Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton speaks during a rally outside the University of Pittsburgh's Cathedral of Learning on Nov. 7, 2016 in Pittsburgh, Pa.
Photo by Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty

House Republicans want a special counsel for Clinton, not Trump

Sometimes, the line between House Republicans and their caricature becomes blurred.

House Judiciary Committee Republicans on Thursday called for a new special counsel – to investigate Hillary Clinton, James Comey and Loretta Lynch.

In a letter addressed to Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, the Republicans said they were writing to “request assistance in restoring public confidence in our nation’s justice system and its investigators, specifically the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).”

In other words, if Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee have their way, we’d have two parallel investigations: one special-counsel probe examining the Trump-Russia scandal, and another special-counsel probe going after Hillary Clinton.

There’s no reason to believe the Justice Department will take such a request seriously, but we live in deeply strange times and it’s probably best not to make any assumptions.

Also note, even if there is no second special counsel, the House Judiciary Committee is poised to move forward with a Clinton investigation of its own. The Washington Post reported this week that the GOP-led panel has begun requesting documents for a new round of Clinton-related scrutiny.

All of this, coincidentally, follows Donald Trump’s recent insistence that Clinton’s imagined “crimes” face an investigation.

The House Judiciary Committee’s actions are laughable on their face, but they’re all the more jarring when one remembers that this same panel has refused to do any meaningful work on the Russia scandal. A foreign adversary launched an espionage operation to subvert an American election – the most serious attack against the United States since 9/11 – and the Republican majority on the House Judiciary Committee, which has unique responsibilities in this area, has largely ignored the entire affair.

Adding insult to injury, this same House panel has similarly pretended not to notice related developments, including the president’s alleged obstruction of justice. During Watergate, it was the House Judiciary Committee that held hearings that helped shed important light on White House wrongdoing, but in the Trump era, the House Judiciary Committee’s Republican members are reluctant to shake their obsession with Hillary Clinton – who, incidentally, left public office more than five years ago.

I’m reminded of something Slate’s Jamelle Bouie wrote a few months ago: “Americans believe their system runs on checks and balances, but those checks require the will to act. Without that, they’re dead letters. And to that point, it’s unclear if the GOP majority will ever take up its responsibilities…. [Republicans] have embraced an unqualified, unstable authoritarian with contempt for the basic values and norms of American democracy. They have facilitated the potential subversion of our government by foreign forces and empowered a dangerous ideology of racial and religious exclusion. However this ends, whatever happens with Trump and his movement, the GOP will bear the brunt of the blame.”