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Republican 'hopeful' Clinton will be charged

Posted at 5:58 PM, Jan 08, 2016

WASHINGTON (AP) — A Republican member of the House Benghazi committee says he is "hopeful" the Justice Department will bring charges against Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton for having classified information on her private email server.

Rep. Mike Pompeo of Kansas said there is increasing evidence that "an enormous amount of information" on Clinton's private server is classified.

"It was classified when it was on her server, and it was classified when it was sent," Pompeo told conservative radio host Lars Larson on Thursday.

Pompeo said he is "anxious" for the Justice Department and FBI to make a determination on whether to bring charges against Clinton as quickly as possible. If charges are made, a grand jury will determine whether to indict.

"I think that there is only one answer that can be reached, and I am hopeful that will be the outcome that the FBI achieves," said Pompeo, who also serves on the House Intelligence Committee.

"These are just facts," Pompeo added. "We've all seen the reports of the classified information on her server. It could not and should not have been lawfully handled in the way that she did it."

Pompeo's comments came as the panel interviewed former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta behind closed doors Friday for nearly six hours. Panetta endorsed Clinton's presidential bid on Thursday.

Pompeo's remarks are the latest by a congressional Republican suggesting an unfavorable judgment against Clinton before the committee or the FBI concludes their respective investigations.

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., said last fall that the Benghazi panel could take credit for Clinton's recent drop in public opinion polls. He later retracted the comment.

Rep. Richard Hanna, R-N.Y., said "a big part" of the Benghazi investigation "was designed to go after ... Hillary Clinton."

Clinton was secretary of state at the time of the 2012 attacks in Benghazi, Libya.

Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland, the senior Democrat on the Benghazi panel, called Pompeo's comments unfortunate and said they are evidence of GOP bias against Clinton.

"I think it's inappropriate," Cummings said. "It's very unfortunate when we have a committee that is supposed to be about the business of finding out facts, for anyone to come out with those kinds of statements."

Pompeo's comment will make it harder for the American people to accept the committee's report as unbiased and nonpartisan, Cummings said.

Panetta had not testified before the Benghazi panel until now, but he told Congress in 2013 that time, distance and the lack of an adequate warning prevented a more immediate response to the Sept. 11 attacks that killed U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans.

Panetta told MSNBC this week that "there was never any order to stand down. On the contrary, the whole effort was to do everything possible to try to save lives."

The Republican staff on the committee issued a statement Friday defending the panel's work and criticizing Democratic members, underscoring how Benghazi remains a highly politically charged issue more than three years after the attacks.