A fight between Issa and Clinton would have implications not only in the 2012 election, but possibly 2016 as well, given speculation — rejected by Clinton — that she might run again for the White House.

The real target for all of Issa’s investigations is Obama, whom Clinton is under pressure to protect even as she looks to cement her own reputation as a successful secretary of State.

And Issa, in going after State, is setting himself up for a battle with one of the country’s most popular and influential political figures.

Clinton is also a Washington player with a cadre of loyal lieutenants dedicated to protecting her image — not to mention her husband, President Bill Clinton.

Clinton and Issa have tangled in the past…

For the time being, Issa’s office holds that Clinton’s response has been noticeably different from the DOJ’s and says it is optimistic about the course of the probe.