Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) dropped the hammer on Republican lawmakers — who he accused of misusing their power by repeatedly investigating Hillary Clinton for alleged misdeeds.
“Today is the third ’emergency’ hearing in four business days, third emergency hearing about Secretary Clinton’s e-mails in four business days,” Cummings said. “Third in four days, emergency. I believe this committee is abusing taxpayer dollars and authority of Congress in an astonishing onslaught of political attacks to damage Secretary Clinton’s campaign for president of the United States of America.”
Cummings, the ranking member of the House Oversight Committee, accused chairman Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) of improperly trying to interfere with the election.
“This is the first time in my 30 years in Congress that I have personally witnessed the Oversight power of this committee abused in such a transparently political manner to directly influence a presidential campaign,” Cummings said.
“The point of today’s hearing is to investigate baseless Republican accusations that Secretary Clinton, or her aides, ordered destruction of emails to conceal them from investigators,” Cummings said. “The most important fact for the day’s hearing is that the FBI already investigated these accusations and thoroughly debunked them. They interviewed witnesses, examined forensic evidence and concluded that these accusations have no merit. FBI Director (James) Comey stated, and I quote, ‘We found no evidence that any of the additional work-related emails were intentionally deleted in an effort to conceal them,’ end of quote. He went on to say, and I quote, ‘We did not find any evidence of evil intent, intent to obstruct justice.'”
Cummings said Comey reiterated his comments last week in a memo to his staff, saying the case was “not a cliffhanger.”
“Of course, Republicans did not like the answers that the FBI director gave, so they simply manufactured today’s hearing out of thin air,” he said. “This entire hearing is a contrived campaign photo-op.”
He said the Republicans had created a three-step playbook to damage Clinton through insinuation.
“Step one: Publicly accuse the witnesses of criminal activity, no matter how ludicrous, then refer them to attorney’s office for investigation,” Cummings said.
“Step two: The next day invite the same witnesses to an emergency hearing on those criminal accusations and rush to issue a flurry of unilateral subpoenas demanding they testify,” he continued. “No debate, no vote.”
“Step three: Express false outrage when these witnesses — this is a playbook — express false outrage when these witnesses, who you just accused of criminal activity take advice from their counsel to assert their Fifth Amendment right to not testify,” Cummings added. “There you have it — presto, instant photo op,” he said.