If Republicans retain control of the House, something that GOP-friendly maps make possible even in the event of a Trump loss, Clinton will become the first president since George H.W. Bush to immediately face a House Oversight Committee controlled by the opposition party.
And other Republican leaders say they support Chaffetz’s efforts — raising the specter of more partisan acrimony between them and the White House for the next four years.
“The rigorous oversight conducted by House Republicans has already brought to light troubling developments in the [Hillary] Clinton email scandal,” the office of House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) said in a statement to The Washington Post. “The speaker supports investigative efforts following where the evidence leads, especially where it shows the need for changes in the law.”
On the campaign trail, Republicans running for every office confidently talk about Clinton facing criminal charges one day.
“Lady Justice doesn’t see black or white,” Rep. Ken Buck (R-Colo.) said Wednesday at a rally in Loveland. “She doesn’t see male or female. She does’t see rich or poor. But soon, lady Justice will see Hillary Clinton.”
That analysis stems from the investigations Republicans have led — or asked for — into Clinton’s tenure at the State Department. Clinton has been dogged by investigations into the terrorist attacks in Benghazi, and for the better part of two years, she’s reeled from questions about the private email server she used while secretary of state. Chaffetz, too, views Clinton as a lucky candidate whose past will catch up with her after the polls close.
“She’s not getting a clean slate,” he said. “It’s not like the State Department was bending over backwards to help us understand what was going on. We’ve got document destruction. We’ve got their own rogue system. We’ve got classified information out the door. We’ve got their foundation doing who knows what. I mean, it took them four years just to release her schedule.”
Chaffetz emphasized that the questions raised since he took over the committee in 2015 have not all been answered.
“We still have tens of thousands of missing documents,” he said. “That ranges from everything from the missing boxes [of subpoenaed emails] to the David Petraeus emails, to [State Department Undersecretary] Patrick Kennedy’s communications.”
The one thing Chaffetz will not consider is an election that goes badly against the GOP. He sees the Oversight Committee as “the tip of the spear,” with a valuable role to play in challenging the executive. If Republicans lose the majority, Chaffetz has no Plan B.
“Heaven help us!” said Chaffetz, laughing. “Please, no! I’m not even going to think about that one. I can’t even utter the sentence out loud.”