WASHINGTON (AP) — The State Department watchdog has found that former Secretary of State Colin Powell and the immediate staff of former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice also received classified national security information on their personal email accounts, a top House Democrat said Thursday.
Revelations about former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's use of a personal email server have dogged her presidential campaign. Now, the State Department inspector general has told Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland, senior Democrat on a House oversight committee, that it has determined that two emails sent to Powell and 10 others sent to Rice's staff also contained classified national security information.
"My concern has been that Republicans are spending millions of taxpayer dollars singling out Secretary Clinton because she is running for president — often leaking inaccurate information — while at the same time disregarding the actions of Republican secretaries of state," Cummings said in a statement in which he accuses Republicans for using taxpayer money to mar Clinton's candidacy.
Clinton is facing new scrutiny from congressional Republicans as a fourth committee is pressing for general information about the handling of government documents, use of personal emails and the response to Freedom of Information requests during her tenure at the State Department.
Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, sent a Jan. 19 letter to Secretary of State John Kerry asking for information and documents, citing the panel's jurisdiction over implementation of FOIA requests. His request included material from the tenures of current and former secretaries of State.
In an interview with the Politico news organization, Chaffetz said Clinton's use of a private email server for government business could ensnare her in his inquiry. Three other committees are already focused on the former secretary of state and her tenure — the special House panel on the attacks in Benghazi, Libya, the Senate Judiciary Committee and the Senate Homeland and Governmental Affairs Committee.
House Speaker Paul Ryan said Thursday he respects the FBI investigation, but gave no indication that he would stop Chaffetz from also conducting an inquiry.
"The FBI director, James Comey, is in the middle of an investigation. They have the tools to do it. So we will be respecting that investigation," Ryan told reporters.
House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi told reporters that the congressional probes were a "waste of time."
"Let's have a discussion of ideas and not politics of personal destruction, which is what some of them seem to be about," she said.
Cummings has written Kerry seeking more information about the latest revelations about emails from Powell and Rice's tenure at the State Department.
According to Cummings' letter to Kerry, the IG is reviewing the records preservation practices of five former secretaries of state and their immediate staffs. The IG said the 12 emails were sent between February 2003 and June 2008. None of them were marked classified, but the State Department has advised the inspector general that the 12 contained classified national security information.
Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., criticized Chaffetz for launching a new investigation even in light of the report that the former Republican secretaries of state and their immediate staffs had classified information on their personal accounts.
"One taxpayer funded congressional committee dedicated to attacking Secretary Clinton was one too many, and the opening of a new investigation worsens the already damaging precedent of using the Congress's investigative powers to damage a presidential candidate," Schiff said. "With a Department of Justice review still ongoing, this new partisan effort to smear Secretary Clinton is better left to the Republican National Committee, not a taxpayer-funded congressional committee."