Two top Republicans have added their voices to the growing chorus in Congress demanding the appointment of a special counsel to investigate “conflicts of interest” and decisions “made and not made” by current and former Justice Department officials in 2016 and 2017.
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte and House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy on Tuesday wrote in a letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein arguing that “the public interest requires” the action.
“Matters have arisen—both recently and otherwise—which necessitate the appointment of a Special Counsel. We do not make this observation and attendant request lightly,” Gowdy and Goodlatte wrote.
“There is evidence of bias, trending towards animus among those charged with investigating serious cases,” their letter read. “There is evidence political opposition research was used in court filings.”
“There is evidence this political research was neither vetted before it was used nor fully revealed to the relevant tribunal,” they continued.
The congressmen added: “Some have been reluctant to call for the appointment of a Special Counsel because such an appointment should be reserved for those unusual cases where existing investigative and prosecutorial entities cannot adequately discharge those duties. We believe this is just such a case.”
Gowdy, who is not seeking reelection in 2018, told Fox News host Maria Bartiromo on Sunday that the House was “trending” toward calling for another special counsel to investigate the government abuses that allegedly occurred in 2016.
Gowdy appeared with Goodlatte on Tuesday for an exclusive interview on Fox News’s Special Report with substitute host Bill Hemmer to discuss what matters had arisen that prompted him to call for a second independent counsel.
“What changed for me was the knowledge that there are two dozen witnesses that Michael Horowitz, the [DOJ] Inspector General, would not have access to,” Gowdy said. “When I counted up 24 witnesses that he would not be able to access were he to investigate it, yeah only one conclusion, that’s special counsel.”
Included on that list are former FBI director James Comey, former FBI Deputy director Andrew McCabe, James Rybicki (Comey’s former chief-of-staff), and Clinton fixers Sidney Blumenthal and Cody Shearer.
Horowitz has no access to “anyone who no longer works for the Department of Justice, FBI, State Department,” Gowdy explained.
— Fox News (@FoxNews) March 6, 2018
Goodlatte argued that the process the FBI used to obtain a FISA warrant was abused, and it needs to be looked into.
“The FBI is America’s premiere law enforcement organization,” he said. “Every day, thousands and thousands of great men and women keep us safe, investigate crime, prevent terrorist attacks –but several people at the top of this organization have engaged in activities that are questionable and I think that in order to set the record straight, clear what going on at the FBI and make sure this does not happen again, we need to have an outside special counsel.”
.@RepGoodlatte: "In order to set the record straight, clear what is going on at the @FBI, and make sure this does not happen again, we need to have an outside special counsel investigation." #SpecialReport https://t.co/JqQ7xuahWk pic.twitter.com/3OLGaufyiW
— Fox News (@FoxNews) March 6, 2018
House Intel ranking member Adam Schiff (D-CA) said the call for a second counsel was just a way for Republicans to investigate “everything but what is most important: Russia’s interference in our election.”
House Oversight ranking member Elijah Cummings, D-Md. also questioned the motives of the Republicans, calling the letter an attempt by Republicans to “protect Trump.”
Said Cummings: “The Department’s Inspector General is fully capable of conducting an independent review. Here in Congress, our attention should be on investigating how Russia attacked our electoral process—not trying to protect President Trump.”
Last week, thirteen other House Republicans penned a similar letter to Sessions, requesting the appointment of an independent counsel. Additionally, House Intel Chair Devin Nunes wrote in a letter to the attorney general on Thursday that the FBI may have violated five criminal statutes in the FISA application to obtain a surveillance warrant on former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page.
Like Rep. Gowdy said on Sunday: “we’re trending perhaps toward another special counsel.” The ball is now in the attorney general’s court.