Boehner, Pelosi Downplay Schock, Weigh In on Clinton
The House’s top Republican and Democrat addressed Hillary Rodham Clinton’s email scandal and Aaron Schock’s surprise resignation during their weekly news conferences Thursday.
Both seemed more concerned about the former Cabinet secretary’s struggle to justify her home-brew approach to handling official email during and after her tenure at the State Department than with the ethical lapses that led to Schock’s decision earlier this week to announce his resignation. Speaker John A. Boehner of Ohio reiterated his calls for Clinton to turn over her email server in the wake of revelations she’d been using a non-governmental email account while she ran the State Department.
The revelation has raised red flags for Republicans who think Clinton isn’t being forthcoming about what she knew about the 2012 fatal attacks on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya — especially because the House Select Committee on Benghazi discovered the Clinton email discrepancy during the course of its investigation.
“Secretary Clinton must hand over her email server to an independent, third-party arbiter,” Boehner said. “[Benghazi] Chairman [Trey] Gowdy has already discussed a few examples: A federal inspector general, a retired judge and a professional archivist. All of these choices would be eminently fair and reasonable. We need the secretary to do the right thing here so we can get to the facts about what happened before, during and after an attack on our people.”
Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California, meanwhile, was worried that Clinton was being made a political target by Republicans who fear her clout in the 2016 election cycle.
“I have a concern that this isn’t really about emails,” Pelosi said at her separate news conference Thursday. “It’s about a partisan investigation by a select committee that has spent millions of dollars, produced nothing.
“I think we’re going to just see an ongoing investigation of Hillary Clinton,” she continued, “whether it’s her emails, or it’s her hair or whatever it happens to be.”
While Boehner and Pelosi had strong words about the Clinton controversy, they were less emphatic about whether Schock’s departure should necessitate any changes to how members and aides receive ethics training and if enforcement mechanisms should be strengthened.
A discovery that the 33-year-old lawmaker had hired an interior decorator to renovate his Capitol Hill office to look like one of the grand rooms on the period TV drama “Downton Abbey” led to even more damning media reports that he had been misusing thousands of taxpayer dollars on private travel and personal photography services, plus misreporting gas mileage on his vehicle.
Pelosi said it would be beneficial for “members and their families and their staffs” to undergo formal ethics trainings, but said this particular episode was “so outrageous and so unusual that I don’t think it should trigger” a new requirement.
Boehner, who admitted he hadn’t yet spoken with Schock and was “a bit stunned” by the announcement, said he supported the Illinois Republican’s decision, opining, “I expect the American people expect members of Congress to be held to the highest ethical standard.”
He said there “are ample controls in place to deal with the allegations that are involved here,” and cautioned reporters not to be naive.
“Understand something,” he said. “If anyone’s gonna violate the rules, they’re gonna violate the rules, and in almost every case, sooner or later, it catches up to them.”
The lack of enthusiasm for redoubling efforts to prevent members from committing House rules violations is sure to disappoint members like David Cicilline, D-R.I., and Scott Rigell, R-Va., who have been advocating for mandatory ethics training for new members of Congress.
Schock Resignation Will Trigger Special Election in Illinois
The 114th: CQ Roll Call’s Guide to the New Congress
Get breaking news alerts and more from Roll Call in your inbox or on your iPhone.