Attorney General Jeff Sessions is taking heat from conservatives who are fuming because he declined to appoint a second special counsel to investigate alleged abuses at the FBI and Department of Justice (DOJ).
In a letter released on Thursday to senior GOP lawmakers in the House and Senate, Sessions explained that he appointed John Huber, a U.S. attorney from Utah who was first appointed by former President Obama, to work with DOJ’s inspector general to determine whether a second special counsel is necessary.
Sessions also said that a high bar was set for an independent investigation and the it would require “extraordinary circumstances,” and he will accept Huber’s recommendation on the issue.
Conservatives believe that there is more than enough evidence of wrongdoing at the FBI as well as significant conflicts of interest with the DOJ to justify a special counsel.
“If he’s not going to appoint a second special counsel then he should step down,” said Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), a member of the conservative House Freedom Caucus.
Not all Republican leaders were fuming. Sessions letter seemed to satisfy three GOP leaders: Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) and House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.).
In a statement, Goodlatte and Gowdy praised Huber, saying he has a strong reputation and will “conduct an independent and thorough investigation.” They also said that Session had demonstrated his “commitment to this investigation,” while noting that the attorney general “reserves the right to appoint a special counsel in the future.”
“While we continue to believe the appointment of a second special counsel is necessary, this is a step in the right direction,” Gowdy and Goodlatte said.
Still many on the right believe that Sessions is getting pushed around by career law enforcement officials who are seeking to protect their own.
Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), the chairman of the Freedom Caucus, said Thursday night on Fox New’s “The Ingraham Angle”:
“We need to have the special counsel. I disagree with the attorney general. … The Justice Department is not complying with the subpoena and oversight responsibility we have in Congress, so for the attorney general to say there’s not enough there is extremely disappointing.”
He accused the DOJ of ignoring congressional subpoenas and of omitting material facts in the documents provided to lawmakers probing allegations of FBI misconduct.
Other Republicans have alleged that the Steele dossier, which was paid for by Clinton’s campaign and the Democratic National Committee, was improperly used to obtain a warrant to spy on a Trump campaign official. They say the FBI and DOJ hid from the surveillance court that the information had been paid for by Democrats.
This warrant was signed off on by FBI Director James Comey and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.
Conservative leaders also believe former Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe has lied to investigators under oath about his contacts with the media, which may have contributed to his firing.
McCabe, who is friends with Comey, was previously at the center of controversy for leading the investigation into the Clinton matter. But his wife received a sizable political donation from former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D), a Clinton ally.
A report from DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz is coming soon and expected to be highly critical of McCabe. The Horowitz report is expected to be the definitive take on the FBI and DOJ’s processing of the Clinton investigation.
Add to all of this the lingering suspicion over FBI agents Peter Strzok and Lisa page, their interaction with Michael Flynn, and the controversial actions of Bruce Our, who is married to a woman who worked for Fusion GPS, and you seem to have plenty of cause for an independent investigation.
“If this doesn’t represent extraordinary circumstances, then what the heck does, Mr. Sessions?” Jordan said.
The questions seems to be whether Sessions is playing a long game.
“What [Sessions] did is he essentially combined the powers of the inspector general with the powers of a line prosecutor,” Jonathan Turley, a law professor at George Washington University and contributor for The Hill, said on Fox News Channel.
“This prosecutor does have not just the experience and training to look for a criminal case, he has the ability to move a case of that kind. Moreover, if he finds that crimes were committed and many people of the FBI might be implicated, Sessions reserved the right to go ahead and appoint a special counsel,” Turley said. “That’s a powerful combination.”
Conservatives seem to have lost their patience.
“Sessions is trying to take the pressure off of himself by appointing Huber, but Huber was appointed by Obama and nobody believes he’s going to take strong action against his own agency,” said conservative lawyer Larry Klayman. “This is a charade. As Woody Allen said, ‘it’s a travesty of a mockery of a sham,’ except it’s not funny.”
“I think Trump has had it with Sessions and will fire him soon. He’s just pushing everything down the road to a point Mueller will have a green light to bring indictments or write impeachment reports. It’s time for Trump to take strong action. Sessions is leading him down the primrose path to destruction.”
Do you support this move by Sessions, or is it a “mockery of a sham?”
Credit: The Hill