Sen. Chuck Grassley Wednesday called for an independent agency to review former Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton's emails when she was at the State Department in light of reports that FBI investigators have retrieved some of her deleted emails.
The agency would be outside of the FBI and the Justice Department, said Grassley, an Iowa Republican who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee.
"The Justice Department is giving us less information than normal when they should be giving us more, so that we can make an informed decision about whether to seek an immunity order," Grassley said.
"You know it is getting a little absurd when someone at the Justice Department is apparently leaking details to the press about an investigation that the department officially refuses to admit to Congress that it is conducting."
Grassley referenced various news reports that the FBI has recovered some of the thousands of emails the Clinton had on her private server during her four years as secretary of state.
Clinton has said that she turned over to the State Department all of her work-related documents, deleting the rest from the server. She has said that included as many as 30,000 emails that she deemed private. The former first lady has since turned over the server to the FBI.
Republicans have long called for Clinton to turn over the server to an independent investigator.
"In light of the details reported in the media, the committee will be seeking more information about the State Department’s attempts to regain possession of the email records that should have remained at the State Department in the first place," Grassley said. "The FBI should also provide clarity on how it will handle the emails now that they have been recovered from the server."
Grassley's remarks came after the Justice Department on Tuesday declined to "confirm or deny"
whether it was investigating Bryan Pagliano, the former State Department aide whom Clinton paid with personal funds to maintain the private server at her home.
Earlier this month, Pagliano invoked the Fifth Amendment when he appeared before the special House committee investigating the 2012 Benghazi attacks and declined to produce documents.
Clinton is scheduled to testify before the panel on Oct. 20.
The committee, chaired by GOP Rep. Trey Gowdy of South Carolina, is investigating the attacks that killed Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans, including two former Navy SEALS.
Benghazi also is under investigation by Grassley's panel and the Senate Homeland Security Committee, which is chaired by Wisconsin GOP Sen. Ron Johnson. The chairmen are working to determine whether to grant Pagliano immunity.
Grassley and Johnson requested the information from Attorney General Loretta Lynch in a Sept. 14 letter.
"Allowing an independent authority to search for records that were requested by Congress, the inspector general, the press, and the public years ago, and then providing the records to the appropriate requesters, would be a welcome move in transparency," Grassley said Wednesday.
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