U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas is among 10 Republican senators pushing the U.S. State Department to suspend any security clearances held by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and several of her aides.
FBI Director James Comey earlier this week announced that although Clinton will not be charged with a crime, her use of a private email server for classified material was “extremely careless.”
“There is simply no excuse for Hillary Clinton’s decision to set up a home-cooked email system which left sensitive and classified national security information vulnerable to theft and exploitation by America’s enemies,” the senators wrote Secretary of State John Kerry. “Her actions were grossly negligent, damaged national security and put lives at risk.”
The senators asked what actions were being taken against Clinton and top aides Huma Abedin, Cheryl Mills, Jake Sullivan and others.
Along with Cotton, the other senators writing the letter were Sens. Marco Rubio, R-Florida; David Perdue, R-Georgia; John Barrasso, R-Wyoming; Cory Gardner, R-Colorado; John Cornyn, R-Texas; Johnny Isakson, R-Georgia; James Risch, R-Idaho; Ron Johnson, R-Wisconsin; and James Lankford, R-Oklahoma.
Cotton’s office announced this afternoon that it had sent the letter.
H.L. Moody, spokesperson for the Democratic Party of Arkansas, said Cotton is playing politics with the issue.
“Senator Cotton and Donald Trump want Americans focused on emails so that Trump’s lack of experience and frequent temper tantrums escape notice,” he wrote in a statement. “Those focused on emails are the same Republicans who stand with a candidate who has insulted nearly every American since launching his campaign. The Republican double standard applies to Secretary Clinton, but not former secretaries of state, White House officials, or even members of Congress. This in one of the reasons the congressional approval rating sits at historic lows.”
The letter from the Senators follows a call by U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan, a Republican from Wisconsin, to prevent Clinton from receiving national security updates after she is officially named the presidential nominee of the Democratic Party. While it is not required by law, it has been common from presidential candidates to receive classified intelligence briefings after becoming a party nominee.
“There is no legal requirement for you to provide Secretary Clinton with classified information, and it would send the wrong signal to all those charged with safeguarding our nation’s secrets if you choose to provide her access to this information despite the FBI’s findings,” Ryan wrote in a letter to Director of National Intelligence James Clapper.
GOV. HUTCHINSON INPUT
Earlier today, Gov. Asa Hutchinson was asked about Comey’s announcement. “Director Comey said it as clearly in a way that communicates to the American people, and that is Mrs. Clinton was extremely reckless in her handling of classified material,” he said. “That speaks volumes of her lack of seriousness in dealing with the most sensitive issues that face our country.”
Hutchinson was the nation’s first undersecretary of the Department of Homeland Security and also was director of the Drug Enforcement Administration as well as a member of Congress. He said he respects Comey, who he said was dealing with the level of evidence needed to prove intent.
“I would say there’s such a thing as circumstantial evidence that can prove intent, and there’s been cases that have been presented with less evidence than what is in this case,” he said. “But this is high-profile. We’re dealing with a nominee for president.”
He said if he were still in a position of federal authority and a staff member acted in a similar way with classified material, “There would be disciplinary action and a referral over to the U.S. attorney to review it.”
Hutchinson, an attorney, added, “I’ve defended people on espionage charges. I’ve been in court handling these cases and I know what’s at stake. I know what the burden of proof is, and I know how juries handle these things.”