Cornyn calls for special counsel in Clinton email case

Cornyn calls for special counsel in Clinton email case

Sen. John Cornyn demanded the Justice Department appoint a special counsel to oversee the agency’s investigation of Hillary Clinton’s private emails in a letter to Attorney General Loretta Lynch Tuesday.

The Texas Republican noted Justice Department regulations that allow the attorney general to select a special counsel if a conflict of interest or “extraordinary circumstances” are present in a case.

“The present circumstances surrounding [Clinton’s] use of a private email server during her tenure as secretary of state could not be more extraordinary, nor the conflicts greater,” he said.

Cornyn, who is a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, highlighted the impact of Clinton’s server use on the Freedom of Information Act. Requests for Clinton-related records went unanswered before the agency recovered some of her emails in December of last year.

Cornyn also pointed to controversy over the classified intelligence that passed through Clinton’s private email network in his call for the appointment of a special counsel.

The Justice Department has relied on independent counsel to navigate politically-charged investigations in the past.

For example, President Richard Nixon’s attorney general named Archibald Cox as a special prosecutor in 1973 amid public speculation that the entire Nixon administration was too corrupt to investigate itself.

A firestorm ensued Nixon’s decision to fire Cox later that year, prompting the embattled president to appoint a new special counsel who couldn’t be removed without the consent of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

A special counsel was also used during the Reagan era to investigate the Iran-Contra scandal in 1986.

Lawrence Walsh, who served as the independent counsel in the tangled case of international arms sales, presided over one of the most high-profile investigations of administration officials since the Watergate scandal.

Controversies during President Bill Clinton’s administration also prompted the appointment of a special counsel.

Kenneth Starr, who was selected to investigate the Whitewater scandal in 1994, broadened his investigation of the Clintons to include, among other things, the president’s relationship with a White House intern.

Starr’s investigation reportedly led to 24 indictments.

By 1999, five separate independent counsels, including Starr, were looking into the activities of the Clinton administration.

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