By Susan Cornwell
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan on Wednesday said lawmakers are examining whether there is any action they can take over Hillary Clinton’s email practices while secretary of state, saying it appeared she had received preferential treatment from the FBI.
Ryan, a Republican, said the House of Representatives would not “foreclose any options” when asked whether a special prosecutor was necessary to get to the bottom of the Democratic presidential candidate’s use of a private email server while she ran the State Department.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation said on Tuesday it would not recommend charges regarding Clinton’s email, although FBI Director James Comey rebuked the Democratic U.S. presidential candidate for “extremely careless” handling of classified information.
The FBI decision, Ryan said, “looks like” preferential treatment for Clinton. Ryan, who was the Republican vice presidential candidate in 2012, said Director of National Intelligence James Clapper should deny Clinton access to classified information during the campaign, although presidential candidates normally get such access once they are formally nominated.
Clinton’s campaign, responding to Ryan’s remarks, said House Republicans appeared to be trying to launch another “sham of an inquiry” against Clinton now that they had ended their two-year probe of the deaths of four Americans at a U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi while Clinton was secretary of state.
“For weeks Republicans have said they trusted FBI Director Comey to lead an independent review into Secretary Clinton’s emails, but now they are second-guessing his judgment because his findings do not align with their conspiracy theories,” campaign spokesman Brian Fallon said in an emailed statement.
The campaign said on Tuesday it was pleased with the FBI’s decision, noting that the candidate has said repeatedly that it was a mistake to use her personal email while secretary of state.
Ryan noted that two House committees are looking into the Clinton email matter — the Judiciary committee and the Oversight Committee, where Comey has been invited to testify on Thursday.
“He (Comey) did say that short of prosecution, some kind of administrative action might be in order,” Ryan said, adding: “I think it’s the least we can do, given how she was so reckless in handling classified material and sending classified information on insecure servers.”
“So look, I think that’s something that the administration should do on its own, but we’ll look into seeing if that’s something we can do as well,” Ryan said.
Senate Republican leaders said they thought Clinton’s testimony to the FBI should be released to the public. But Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid dismissed as political the Republican calls for Clinton to stop getting classified information.
“The Republicans are in such desperate shape because of (Republican presidential candidate Donald) Trump, they would seize upon anything,” Reid told reporters. He said the FBI investigation had been thorough. “It’s over and it’s time to move on.”
(Additional reporting by Alana Wise and Kouichi Shirayanagi; Editing by Bill Trott and Tom Brown)