Rep. Jason Chaffetz, the Utah Republican who chairs the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, sent a letter to U.S. Attorney Channing Phillips citing the investigative files the FBI turned over last week. Federal agents investigated whether Clinton’s handling of classified material on a private email server violated the law, and FBI Director James Comey ultimately declined to recommend criminal charges.
In asking for the obstruction probe, Chaffetz cited evidence that a contractor working for Clinton deleted email archives in March 2015, despite knowing they were the subject of a congressional subpoena. Chaffetz also cited a conference call with Clinton’s attorneys days before, a work ticket created the day the emails were wiped, and the use of a software program called BleachBit, designed to destroy electronic data so that it cannot be recovered.
“In light of this information, the department should investigate and determine whether Secretary Clinton or her employees and contractors violated statutes that prohibit destruction of records, obstruction of congressional inquiries, and concealment or cover up of evidence material to a congressional investigation,” he wrote.
The allegations against Clinton mirror those made a generation ago against President Richard Nixon during the Watergate scandal. Members of Congress drew up impeachment papers — although the president resigned before impeachment proceedings could be carried out. Here were the charges:
- Obstruction of justice. Nixon stood accused of using his powers to “delay, impede, and obstruct the investigation … to cover up, conceal and protect those responsible; and to conceal the existence and scope of other unlawful covert activities.”
- Abuse of power. Nixon faced accusations of “impairing the due and proper administration of justice in the conduct of lawful inquiries.”
- Defiance of subpoenas. Nixon faced allegations that he “failed without lawful cause or excuse to produce papers and things as directed by duly authorized subpoenas issued by the Committee on the Judiciary of the House of Representatives.”