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CNN "CNN Newsroom" - Transcript - Investigations into the State Department

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COSTELLO: Hillary Clinton's spokesperson says, quote, "We learned of it from the media and don't know anything beyond what's been reported," end quote.

Congressman Ed Royce joins me now from Capitol Hill. He's a Republican and chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and he's launching an investigation.

Good morning.

REP. ED ROYCE (R-CA), FOREIGN AFFAIRS COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: Good morning.

COSTELLO: Do you think it's possible Hillary Clinton didn't know of any of these allegations?

ROYCE: Well, the one thing we do know, Carol, is that the intervention of senior political appointees in this process to quash these investigations and that would include Hillary Clinton's chief of staff. It would also include a rather senior position, the undersecretary of management, Mr. Kennedy.

And, so, again, we have an example of a situation where investigators surface an issue here or actually eight different occasions, different issues. Try to bring them under investigation and then the political appointees lean in in order to try to stop the investigation or try to manage the outcome.

COSTELLO: Is it possible, though, that people under Clinton investigated these allegations? They said they did, right? But nothing came of them. Do you have access to what they found?

ROYCE: Well, yes. We have the fact that when approached about these investigations, which we did in March in my office, we got a copy of a draft and we particularly, you know, we approached the agency and asked them about these allegations. They said there's nothing here.

Now, we find out that there were investigations into the particular details in these eight cases where political appointees came in, intervened, called off the investigations and this is what is concerning to us.

Normally, you'd have the inspector general and that would be the tough cop on the beat. The top cop, as well, who would then come in and be able to play the role to make certain that the investigations continued or that the evidence came out. In this particular case, you have a situation where for four and a half years, this administration has never put forward someone for this position as inspector general. And that is after repeated requests from us.

I brought this up in April with Secretary Kerry. And prior to that, we brought this up on numerous occasions, the fact that you've got to allow the inspector general and their office to do their job. Otherwise, if political appointees are allowed to lean in and suppress evidence, then you have the type of outcome where there isn't a deterrent effect and now, here's eight cases at this moment coming forward that were all bottled up that have not been fully investigated.

COSTELLO: You know --

ROYCE: At this point, we're moving forward.

COSTELLO: Some Democrats would say the timing of this whistleblower leak is interesting. I mean, Hillary Clinton is clearly thinking of running for president and now, Republicans are calling for a congressional investigation.

Well, what would you say to that?

ROYCE: Well, the point is that these are eight examples of malfeasance and, in some cases, the conduct here is criminal. And the -- we have the facts that yes, indeed, investigations were open. And, yes, indeed, in the judgment of the inspector general's office, there was undue political interference.

There was undue interference from political appointees. That isn't our judgment in Congress. This is the judgment of the inspector general's office.

So, the real question, also, is why can't we get an inspector general, someone to head up that agency after four and a half years in order to back up the investigators so that we don't end up with a situation where this evidence is suppressed?

And, yes, now, you have investigators that are -- that are, you know, sending out information about the investigations. That's surfacing. But the real solution to the problem is to put somebody in the position of top cop on the beat.

And the other solution to the problem is for Patrick Kennedy, the undersecretary of management and for Cheryl Mills, former chief of staff for Hillary Clinton, not to get directly engaged in trying to suppress investigations.

COSTELLO: Well, your investigation is now, your investigation is now under way. We'll check back with you.

Congressman Ed Royce, thank you for being with us this morning.

ROYCE: Thank you, Carol.

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