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President, FBI Chief on the Hot Seat: Inside Capitol Hill Showdowns

09-29-2016
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This election year brought two Capitol Hill showdowns to Washington Wednesday: an emotional FBI director defending his investigation of presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and Congress delivering its first veto override to President Barack Obama.

FBI Director James Comey took the hot seat Wednesday at a House Judiciary Committee hearing as Republicans grilled him on the FBI's year-long investigation of how Clinton handled email during her tenure as secretary of state.

They asked Comey about his decision not to prosecute Clinton for her use of a private email server and for deleting tens of thousands of emails.

"Doesn't it concern you as investigator that your chiefs in the Justice Department decided to become an immunity-producing machine for many people who would have been very key witnesses should there have been a prosecution?" Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., asked.

"I don't see it that way," Comey replied. "Doesn't strike me there was a lot of immunity issued in this case."

"It's a complicated subject, but there's a lot of different kinds of immunity," he continued. "There's probably three different kinds that were featured in this case -- fairly typical in a complex, white collar case, especially as you try to work your way up towards your subject."

During hours of testimony Comey repeatedly denied that his decision on Clinton reflected a double standard for major public figures.

Becoming emotional as he defended the honesty of his investigation, he insisted the decision not to recommend prosecution for Clinton was not a close call.

"You can call us wrong; you can call me a fool," he told lawmakers. "You cannot call us weasels, okay? That is just not fair. I hope we haven't gotten to a place in America where everything has to be torn down on an integrity basis just to disagree."

Meanwhile, the dwindling influence of the president was also on clear display on Capitol Hill Wednesday. Both the House and the Senate voted overwhelmingly to override Obama's veto of the so-called 9/11 bill, which allows families of victims to sue Saudi Arabia for allegedly sponsoring terrorism.

Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., defended the bill on the Senate floor, asking "Do we really want it established inflexibly in precedent that foreign countries directly responsible for financing terrorists on U.S. soil are beyond the reach of justice? I don't think so."

The president shot back on CNN, warning that the bill sets "a dangerous precedent and it's an example of why sometimes you have to do what's hard."

He also called it a "political vote," saying no one wants to be seen as voting against the 9/11 families right before an election.

Although both parties supported the override, even many conservatives agree with the president's argument that the measure could endanger U.S. military and diplomats overseas, setting them up for lawsuits.

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