Benghazi panel OKs report, Clinton probe may continue

In this photo taken Thursday, Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., chairman of the House Select Committee on Benghazi, confers with Rep. Gary Palmer, R-Ala., right, as they and members of the House Oversight Committee question FBI Director James Comey about his decision to not prosecute Hillary Clinton over her private email setup during her time as secretary of state, on Capitol Hill in Washington.

WASHINGTON — House Republicans on Friday approved a report into the deadly 2012 attacks in Benghazi, Libya — and signaled an investigation of Hillary Clinton may continue.

The 800-page report by the GOP-led House Benghazi Committee found no wrongdoing by the former secretary of state, but the two-year inquiry had revealed that she used a private email server for government business, setting off intense scrutiny that continues to dog Clinton’s presidential campaign.

The 7-4 vote Friday was split along party lines, reflecting partisanship that emerged after the panel’s creation in May 2014 and escalated in this election year. Democrats have submitted their own report on the Sept. 11, 2012, attacks, which killed four Americans, including U.S. ambassador Chris Stevens.

The vote is unlikely to be the final word. The panel’s chairman, Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., said lawmakers may seek a federal investigation into whether Clinton, the presumptive Democratic nominee for president, lied to the committee in testimony last year.

“Our committee has an obligation” to report any untruthful testimony to the FBI, Gowdy said.

Asked if he was referring to Clinton, Gowdy said, “She’s one of 100 witnesses.”

Under oath, Clinton testified last October that she never sent or received emails marked as classified when she served as secretary of state. She also said she only used one mobile device for emails and turned over all of her work-related emails to the State Department.

Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, said he would refer Clinton’s Oct. 22 testimony to the FBI to investigate whether she lied to Congress.

Separately, the State Department is reopening its internal investigation of possible mishandling of classified information by Clinton and top aides. The internal review was suspended in April to avoid interfering with the FBI inquiry.

Pressed by Chaffetz Thursday on whether Clinton lied, FBI Director James Comey said during a hearing that he had not reviewed Clinton’s testimony because it had not been referred to him by Congress. Chaffetz assured Comey he would soon get a referral.

House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi dismissed the latest GOP move as purely political.

“So let’s get this straight: This is going to be an investigation of the decision that is an investigation of the emails that was part of the investigation of Benghazi,” she told reporters. “So we had an investigation of the investigation of the investigation. How long can this go on?”

Comey said Thursday that his team found no evidence that Clinton lied under oath to FBI or broke the law by discussing classified information in an unclassified setting.

Under an onslaught of Republican criticism, Comey vigorously defended the government’s decision and rejected GOP accusations that the presidential candidate was given special treatment.

To criminally charge Clinton based on the facts his agency’s yearlong probe had found would have been unwarranted and mere “celebrity-hunting,” Comey said.

In nearly five hours of testimony, Comey sought to explain the Justice Department’s decision ending an investigation that has dogged Clinton’s presidential campaign and raised fresh questions among voters about her trustworthiness.

House Speaker Paul Ryan and other Republicans have asked Comey to release all unclassified findings of the FBI’s yearlong investigation. Ryan also has asked Director of National Intelligence James Clapper to bar Clinton from receiving classified briefings for the rest of the campaign.

A group of Republicans senators has introduced legislation to strip Clinton of her security clearance.

During an exchange with Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., Comey confirmed that the FBI’s investigation found at least three emails with classified markings on Clinton’s server, despite Clinton’s assertion during the Benghazi hearing that she had neither sent nor received any items marked classified.

The State Department says human error was responsible for a pair of Hillary Clinton emails the FBI identified as marked classified when they were sent.

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Associated Press writer Eric Tucker contributed to this report.

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