South Carolina Republican Rep. Trey Gowdy, the chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, has reluctantly joined over a dozen other conservative Republicans in calling for a second special counsel to investigate alleged government abuses during the 2016 election.
Led by New York Rep. Lee Zeldin, thirteen congressmen stated in a letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions that another special counsel is needed to investigate “decisions and activities by leadership at the highest levels of the Department of Justice and Federal Bureau of Investigation regarding how and the Clinton probe ended, and the Trump-Russia probe began.”
Just sent letter asking @jeffsessions to appoint Special Counsel to investigate decisions/activities re FISA abuse, & how/why Clinton probe ended, & Trump-Russia probe began. TY to @Jim_Jordan, @RepRooney @RepTedBudd @RepMattGaetz @RepMarkMeadows @replouiegohmert & other signers! pic.twitter.com/L8IYuVlKMI
— Lee Zeldin (@RepLeeZeldin) February 28, 2018
House Intelligence Committee (HPSCI) Chairman Devin Nunes, meanwhile, stated in a letter to the attorney general on Thursday that the FBI may have violated criminal statutes in the FISA application to obtain a surveillance warrant on former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page.
Nunes listed five criminal statutes that were possibly violated, including conspiracy, obstruction of justice, contempt of court. It also cites statutes that make it a crime to willfully deprive a person of a right protected by the Constitution and another preventing unauthorized electronic surveillance.
In the letter, Nunes asks Sessions whether these protocols requiring verified information have changed, and if not, what steps the DOJ or FBI taken to hold officials behind the Page application accountable.
Nunes carbon copied his letter to FBI Director Christopher Wray and DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz.
Gowdy, who is not seeking reelection in 2018, told Fox News host Maria Bartiromo on Sunday that “we’re trending” toward another special counsel to investigate the government abuses that allegedly occurred in 2016.
According to recent media reports, DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowiz’s highly anticipated report will criticize former FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe for authorizing leaks to the media and giving misleading statements to investigators.
Gowdy expressed confidence in Horowiz to issue “a fact-centric, fair report,” but argued that it will be incomplete because the IG doesn’t have access to all of the witnesses.
“Some of these witnesses have already left the department,” Gowdy pointed out. “Which means the inspector general does not have jurisdiction. And there are other agencies like the State Department, where Michael Horowitz … has no jurisdiction whatsoever.”
He told Bartiromo that there are almost two dozen witnesses that the IG would not be able to interview.
“I think we’re trending perhaps toward another special counsel because of this unique fact-pattern and the fact that there are witnesses outside the reach of the inspector general,” the former prosecutor explained.
Gowdy added that while he is personally “reluctant” to call for another special counsel, it might be unavoidable with the current fact-pattern.
“You need an independent arbiter and the Department of Justice cannot investigate itself,” Gowdy said.
Asked if he thinks there will be a Justice Department investigation into the Obama FBI’s alleged misrepresentations before the FISA court, Gowdy answered, “I hope so.”
The attorney general stated twice in the past month that the FISA abuse will be investigated.
“This is a unique court, Maria,” Gowdy explained. “[In] most courtrooms across the country, there are two lawyers and we rely on the adversarial system to arrive at the truth. In a FISA court it’s just the government going in front of a judge. So there’s a unique responsibility to tell the truth, the whole truth, nothing but the truth.”
Gowdy said the footnote in the FISA application — where the FBI conceded that there was a political element to the dossier but went “to great lengths to avoid mentioning the Democratic National Committee” — was “dumbfounding.”