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Republican on House Benghazi committee says he's 'hopeful' Hillary Clinton will be charged

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WASHINGTON — A Republican member of the House Benghazi committee says he is "hopeful" the Justice Department will bring charges against Democratic presidential candidate for having classified information on her private email server.

Rep. of Kansas said there is increasing evidence that "an enormous amount of information" on Clinton's private server is classified.

"It was classified when it was on her server, and it was classified when it was sent," Pompeo told conservative radio host Lars Larson on Thursday.

Pompeo said he is "anxious" for the Justice Department and FBI to make a determination on whether to bring charges against Clinton as quickly as possible. If charges are made, a grand jury will determine whether to indict.

"I think that there is only one answer that can be reached, and I am hopeful that will be the outcome that the FBI achieves," said Pompeo, who also serves on the House Intelligence Committee.

"These are just facts," Pompeo added. "We've all seen the reports of the classified information on her server. It could not and should not have been lawfully handled in the way that she did it."

Pompeo's comments came as the panel interviewed former Defense Secretary behind closed doors Friday for nearly six hours. Panetta endorsed Clinton's presidential bid on Thursday.

Pompeo's remarks are the latest by a congressional Republican suggesting an unfavorable judgment against Clinton before the committee or the FBI concludes their respective investigations.

House Majority Leader , R-Calif., said last fall that the Benghazi panel could take credit for Clinton's recent drop in public opinion polls. He later retracted the comment.

Rep. , R-N.Y., said "a big part" of the Benghazi investigation "was designed to go after ... ."

Clinton was secretary of state at the time of the 2012 attacks in Benghazi, Libya.

Rep. of Maryland, the senior Democrat on the Benghazi panel, called Pompeo's comments unfortunate and said they are evidence of GOP bias against Clinton.

"I think it's inappropriate," Cummings said. "It's very unfortunate when we have a committee that is supposed to be about the business of finding out facts, for anyone to come out with those kinds of statements."

Pompeo's comment will make it harder for the American people to accept the committee's report as unbiased and nonpartisan, Cummings said.

Panetta had not testified before the Benghazi panel until now, but he told Congress in 2013 that time, distance and the lack of an adequate warning prevented a more immediate response to the Sept. 11 attacks that killed U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans.

Panetta told MSNBC this week that "there was never any order to stand down. On the contrary, the whole effort was to do everything possible to try to save lives."

The Republican staff on the committee issued a statement Friday defending the panel's work and criticizing Democratic members, underscoring how Benghazi remains a highly politically charged issue more than three years after the attacks.

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Follow Matthew Daly: http://twitter.com/MatthewDalyWDC

PHOTO: House Benghazi Committee Chairman Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., walks to an closed-door meeting where former Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta will be interviewed before the committee, Friday, Jan. 8, 2016, on Capitol Hill in Washington. The committee is looking into the deadly 2012 attacks in Benghazi, Libya and is interviewing Panetta as the investigation enters its third calendar year , and a presidential election year.(AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
House Benghazi Committee Chairman Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., walks to an closed-door meeting where former Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta will be interviewed before the committee, Friday, Jan. 8, 2016, on Capitol Hill in Washington. The committee is looking into the deadly 2012 attacks in Benghazi, Libya and is interviewing Panetta as the investigation enters its third calendar year , and a presidential election year.(AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

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Video:
PHOTO: The House committee investigating the deadly 2012 attacks in Benghazi, Libya, has spent more than $5 million as the inquiry enters its third calendar year - and a presidential election year. (Jan. 6)
The House committee investigating the deadly 2012 attacks in Benghazi, Libya, has spent more than $5 million as the inquiry enters its third calendar year - and a presidential election year. (Jan. 6)
Photo Gallery:
PHOTO: Former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, center, is escorted to a secure floor on Capitol Hill in Washington, Friday, Jan. 8, 2016, to be questioned in a closed-door hearing of the House Benghazi Committee. The panel, chaired by Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., is investigating the 2012 attacks on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, where a violent mob killed four Americans, including Ambassador Christopher Stevens.  (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
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