Calling for Appointment of a Special Counselby Senator John Cornyn
Posted on 2016-03-07
CORNYN. Madam President, I have come to the floor several times
to talk about the ongoing investigation into the private email server
of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
While serving as the top diplomat for the United States, she plainly believed she could play by her own set of rules. Instead of using a government server with all of the attendant protections from cyber attacks and intelligence gathering by our adversaries, Secretary Clinton paid a staffer thousands of dollars to set up a private, unsecure [[Page S1303]] email server at her home in New York. So it is pretty clear, based on published reports, that Secretary Clinton went out of her way by paying money out of her own pocket to avoid important laws that Congress has passed to guarantee that the American people actually know what their government is doing. I am talking particularly about the Freedom of Information Act.
I haven't heard of any other example of someone in the Federal Government--accountable to the people of the United States--setting up a separate private email server just to conduct official business, not to mention the Secretary of State. It is simply unprecedented.
Her actions also put our country at risk, as her private email server was reportedly unsecure. We have heard time and again from those in the intelligence community that her use of an unsecure, private email server left her emails--some highly classified--vulnerable to hacking and cyber attack from our Nation's enemies.
We may never know the full extent to which her irresponsible actions have affected our military endeavors, our diplomatic efforts, our overall national security or the lives and safety of those who serve in the intelligence community or are in harm's way trying to keep our country safe. We don't know to what extent her recklessness and irresponsibility have jeopardized the lives of people who are engaged in keeping our country safe. We do know that it has jeopardized the security of our country at large.
To this day, Secretary Clinton refuses to accept full responsibility for her actions and denies the serious nature of the FBI's ongoing investigation, calling it only a ``security review.'' Well, it is pretty clear that the Justice Department is doing an investigation. Just this last week, it was reported that the Justice Department granted immunity to the staffer who set up Secretary Clinton's server. So this further confirms that Secretary Clinton is misrepresenting to the public when this inquiry is dismissed as some routine ``security review.'' We don't grant immunity from criminal prosecution to someone in order to gain their cooperation to testify in a case where they otherwise would claim the Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. That is why immunity is granted--so they no longer can claim a belief that they might be prosecuted for being a witness against themselves. That is why immunity is granted.
So this indicates what I have said all along, which is that this is a serious investigation that may determine that classified information has been mishandled--a serious crime. The Justice Department should pursue this case as aggressively as it would any other case involving any other person where there has been concern about the mishandling of classified information because the American people deserve nothing less.
Secretary Clinton is not just some random citizen or former government employee; she was a member of this President's Cabinet and Secretary of State. In light of this extraordinary case and the unavoidable myriad of conflicts of interest, I have called repeatedly on the Attorney General to appoint a special counsel to fully and fairly conduct the investigation. It is not just important that a thorough and independent investigation be conducted; it is important that the American people have confidence and believe that a fair and independent investigation is being conducted. One simply can't reach that conclusion, given the fact that the Attorney General, who is the political appointee of this President and who serves at his pleasure, is loathe to have this investigation proceed, and I will get to that in a moment. The President has inappropriately made comments while this investigation is ongoing. I asked the Attorney General last fall--she is the only one who can make this decision--to appoint a special counsel to give some semblance of independence from the political operation at the Department of Justice and the White House. Unfortunately, almost 6 months later, no independent counsel has been appointed. I think the necessity for such a person to be appointed is even more critical than ever.