The Senate’s No. 2 Republican is doubling down on his call for a special counsel to head the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private, unsecured email server during her time serving as secretary of state under the Obama administration.
Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R., Tex.) repeated his demand Monday that Attorney General Loretta Lynch appoint a special counsel because of the "conflict of interest" it would present for Lynch to investigate and possibly prosecute a former member of the administration.
"The Obama administration has demonstrated time and time again precisely why we need the decision-making in this case as far removed from White House politics as it can possibly be," Cornyn, who first called for a special counsel last September, said during remarks on the Senate floor.
The FBI has been investigating Clinton’s private email set up since the intelligence community inspector general concluded that at least two of her emails contain top secret information. The State Department on Friday admitted that 22 emails have been classified as top secret, blocking their release because of the sensitive nature of the messages.
While the FBI could ultimately recommend an indictment, the Department of Justice would need to decide whether to prosecute.
White House press secretary Josh Earnest told reporters following Friday’s revelation that "based on what we know" the Justice Department was not likely to indict Clinton.
"Either the White House has information that they should not have about the status of this ongoing criminal investigation by the FBI, or they’re sending a signal to the FBI and the Department of Justice that they want this to go away," Cornyn said Monday. "That, Mr. President, is completely inappropriate. It is outrageous. And it’s got to stop."
Cornyn called the appointment of a special counsel the only "appropriate course of action" for Lynch to take in regards to the Clinton email controversy. The leading Republican also said that the administration’s failure to appoint a special counsel would provoke distrust among the American public.
"If the U.S. government, including Congress and the administration, are going to regain the trust and confidence of the American people, they need to know that … there isn’t a separate set of rules for high government officials like a secretary of state and then you and me," Cornyn stated.
Cornyn’s remarks came just before Clinton, a Democratic presidential candidate, faced off with Sen. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.) in a tight battle in the Iowa caucus. The two candidates were locked in a virtual tie Monday night, leading news outlets to deem the race too close to call. Clinton has since declared a slim victory over Sanders, though he has yet to concede.
The email issue has presented problems for Clinton’s presidential campaign, her favorability and honesty ratings falling as new revelations emerge about her use of personal email to conduct government business.