SOUTH JORDAN, Utah — Jason Chaffetz, the Utah congressman wrapping up his first term atop the powerful House Oversight Committee, un-endorsed Donald Trump weeks ago. That freed him up to prepare for something else: spending years, come January, investigating the record of a President Hillary Clinton.
"It's a target-rich environment," said Chaffetz in an interview in Salt Lake City's suburbs. "Even before we get to Day One, we've got two years worth of material already lined up. She has four years of history at the State Department, and it ain't good."
If Republicans retain control of the House, something that GOP-friendly maps make possible even in the event of a Trump loss, Clinton will become the first president since George H.W. Bush to immediately face a House Oversight Committee controlled by the opposition party. (Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama lost Congress later in their presidencies.)
And other Republican leaders say they support Chaffetz's efforts — raising the specter of more partisan acrimony between them and the White House for the next four years.
"The rigorous oversight conducted by House Republicans has already brought to light troubling developments in the Clinton email scandal," House Speaker Paul Ryan said in a statement to the Washington Post. "The speaker supports 'Oversight's' investigative efforts following where the evidence leads, especially where it shows the need for changes in the law."
And the Oversight Committee may not be the only House panel ready for partisan battle. While the Select Committee on Benghazi appears to have finished its work, Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, a committee member who argues that Clinton might have perjured herself on the email question, said recently that he wants the committee to continue.
If she wins, Clinton would enter office with low favorable ratings and perhaps only one-third of voters considering her "honest and trustworthy." As a result, Republicans are not inclined to give her a political honeymoon. To many of them, a Clinton victory would mean that Trump threw away an election that anyone else could have won.
"This should have been a slam dunk for the GOP," party consultant Frank Luntz said Sunday on CBS News' This Week.
Chaffetz views Clinton as a lucky candidate whose past will catch up with her after the polls close.
"She's not getting a clean slate," he said. "It's not like the State Department was bending over backwards to help us understand what was going on. We've got document destruction. We've got their own rogue system. We've got classified information out the door. We've got their foundation doing who knows what. I mean, it took them four years just to release her schedule."
Several Clinton allies recoiled when asked about Chaffetz's plans for 2017. Clinton spokesman Brian Fallon said that Chaffetz threatened to "ignore the public's clear desire for the two parties to work together," and he and others accused Chaffetz of wasting taxpayer money chasing old stories.