(See updates below)
I think somebody in the top ranks of the Republican Party missed a memo somewhere along the line. When John Boehner stepped down and Paul Ryan took the gavel we were told that there would be more of a bottom up approach to the organization with committee leaders having an increased level of influence and responsibility. That subject seems to be getting put to the test this week when it comes to the topic of Hillary Clinton’s Top Secret emails on her bathroom closet server. Most of the investigation thus far has been handled by the Benghazi committee, focusing on the specific content of the emails which related to the tragic events at the Libyan compound. But now that the question of general security and the protection of our nation’s secrets has come to light, Congressman Lamar Smith, chair of the Science, Space, and Technology committee, has begun probing the relevant material.
Unfortunately, that seems to have been a decision he made on his own and the leadership is reluctant to endorse the move, and that’s putting it kindly. (Government Executive)
House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy indicated Monday that a longtime House chairman overstepped his jurisdiction when he launched an investigation into former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s private email server last month.
Science, Space, and Technology Chairman Lamar Smith is probing whether private contractors who set up Clinton’s server at her New York home followed federal cybersecurity guidelines. But McCarthy said he believes the matter to be under the purview of Rep. Trey Gowdy’s Select Committee on Benghazi.
“I have the same impression as you, that it would be Gowdy’s jurisdiction,” McCarthy said, declining to answer whether Smith had pre-cleared the investigation with leadership.
Smith, part of the Texas delegation, has a lengthy history of mixing things up from the conservative side of the bench. You probably recall that he’s been at the lead in investigating NOAA and their curious climate change figures this winter. The question before us today, though, is why McCarthy wouldn’t immediately give this email investigation his blessing. Smith is a dogged investigator who doesn’t mince words and seems ideally suited for the job. Further, he’s looking into a question which specifically speaks to technology… in this case, computer security. Wouldn’t his committee be a far more appropriate fit than one which was formed in an ad hoc fashion targeting only the Benghazi questions?
Going back to the scenario I discussed at the top, whether or not you agree with the appropriate nature of the Science, Space, and Technology committee investigating a question of, er… technology, what happened to letting the committee chairs have more of a say in the overall party strategy? Squashing this and sending it back to Trey Gowdy might eventually get the job done, but shouldn’t we be throwing all of the appropriate and available resources at the problem that can be summoned? This is, after all, a matter of national security.
Hopefully McCarthy can sit down with Speaker Ryan and work through this. It would go a long way toward rebuilding some trust among the conservative base if Smith is allowed to pick up this ball and run with it.
McCarthy offered some clarification on this last night:
“The Select Committee’s focus is on emails pertaining to the attack in Benghazi,” he said. “The FBI is investigating all other issues related to her private server and email account.”
And today, Matt Wolking, Press Secretary for the Select Committee on Benghazi offered us the following comment:
“None of the Secretary of State’s emails would have been discovered if not for the work of the Select Committee on Benghazi, but the FBI’s subsequent investigation into the top secret, classified information on her unsecure, private server is an entirely separate issue and wholly unrelated to the committee’s narrow focus on what happened before, during and after the terrorists attacks that killed four Americans. She was wrong to conflate a YouTube video with the terrorist attacks, she is wrong to conflate her testimony before the committee with the FBI’s investigation into her unprecedented email arrangement, and she is wrong to continue to mislead the American people.”