Attorney General Loretta Lynch was grilled over the Justice Department’s Hillary Clinton email probe Tuesday during testimony before Congress.
Lynch’s appearance before the House Judiciary Committee came after Clinton was cleared by the department in a probe into her use of a private email system as secretary of state. An FBI investigation concluded that while Clinton was “extremely reckless” with classified information, her actions did not violate the law.
Rep. Jason Chaffetz pressed Lynch on the requisites needed to handle classified information.
“Does an individual need a security clearance to review or have access to classified material?” the Utah Republican asked.
“Congressman, that issue would be dependent on the agency for whom they worked and the nature of work they did,” Lynch replied.
“Can you give me an example where you don’t need a security clearance to review classified material?” Chaffetz interjected.
“As I was going to say, they would, but the type of clearance varies with every agency, and the agency would make that decision and determination,” Lynch said.
Chaffetz continued to press on.
“Is it legal or illegal to share classified information with somebody who doesn’t have a security clearance?” he asked.
“Congressman, it depends on the facts of every situation,” Lynch quipped. “You have to determine how that sharing occurred, you’d have to determine the means. You’d have to determine the reason, the intent. Certainly depending on how you view the statute, it could go any number of ways.”
“So you think there is a scenario where you could share classified information with somebody who doesn’t have the requisite security clearance?” a confused Chaffetz asked.
“No, I would not draw that conclusion,” Lynch said. “I would say that I’m unable to answer as a hypothetical. But there are a number of factors that would go into the decision and one could have a number of results.”
The two continued to spar for the next few minutes. Ultimately, Chaffetz stopped trying to get an answer from the attorney general.
He said: “I think you are sending a terrible message to the world … the lack of clarity you give to this body, the lack of clarity on this issue is pretty stunning.”
Lynch was not the only Obama administration official to testify about the Clinton email investigation before Congress. Last week, FBI Director James Comey was questioned for hours on Capitol Hill over his recommendation not to prosecute the former secretary of state.