Congressional Republicans have been calling for the appointment of a second special counsel to investigate alleged misconduct at the FBI and Justice Department for months now, and finally, a group of them will be introducing a resolution on Tuesday asking for just that.
According to Fox News, the 12-page resolution is backed by Rep. Mark Meadows(R-NC), the chairman of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, as well as two of the group’s co-founders — Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), and Rep. Ron DeSantis ( R-FL). It will ask for a second special counsel to investigate matters related to three topics:
The ending of the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s personal email server, the progress of the Trump-Russia investigation from its origins through the appointment of Robert Mueller as special counsel, and abuses of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) during the warrant application process.
The resolution is expected to say that a second special counsel would have greater autonomy to investigate those issues than the Justice Department’s Office of the Inspector General. Last week, Inspector General Michael Horowitz told lawmakers that he had completed his draft report on the Clinton investigation and submitted it to the DOJ and the FBI.
In March, Horowitz agreed to look into allegations that FBI and Justice Department officials used the Clinton bought and paid for dirty dossier to obtain a FISA warrant to justify spying on Carter Page, a hapless former campaign adviser to Trump. Horowitz is also reportedly looking at communications between dirty dossier author Christopher Steele and DOJ and FBI officials. Senate Judiciary Chairman Charles Grassley (R-IA) and committee member Lindsey Graham (R-SC) referred Steele to the Department of Justice for criminal charges back in January, but nothing seems to have been done on that front.
Over the weekend, the Justice Department announced it had asked Horowitz to “expand” his investigation of surveillance abuse “by examining whether any improper politically motivated surveillance of the Trump campaign in 2016 took place.”
Following a meeting between the president, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, and FBI Director Christopher Wray at the White House on Monday, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement:
Based on the meeting with the President, the Department of Justice has asked the Inspector General to expand its current investigation to include any irregularities with the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s or the Department of Justice’s tactics concerning the Trump Campaign. It was also agreed that White House Chief of Staff Kelly will immediately set up a meeting with the FBI, DOJ, and DNI together with Congressional Leaders to review highly classified and other information they have requested.
— Fox News (@FoxNews) May 22, 2018
But some House Republicans say an expansion of the current investigation is not good enough because there are around two dozen witnesses that the IG does not have access to.
Washington D.C. attorney Victoria Toensing on Monday called Rosenstein’s offer to expand the investigation “embarrassing and “a scam.”
“He’s going to have the IG look into it? The IG? Now how is the IG going to talk to Sally Yates, who has left the Department?” she asked.
House Oversight Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy and House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte wrote a letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions two months ago, joining other congressmen in calling for the appointment of a second special counsel for that very reason.
“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,” Gowdy told Fox News anchor Bill Hemmer on Special Report back in March. Horowitz has no access to “anyone who no longer works for the Department of Justice, FBI, State Department,” Gowdy explained.
Included on the list of witnesses would be 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. Another name that could be added to the list is alleged FBI informant Stefan Halper.
“You have an attorney general in Jeff Sessions who’s there in name only — he’s worthless,” said former congressman Jason Chaffetz (R-UT). “And you have Rod Rosenstein, who’s there with an oxygen mask. He’s totally conflicted!”
Chaffetz added that he is “excited” about what some members of the House are getting ready to do.
“I think there’s a group of five members who are actually going to put forward a resolution to say we need a second special counsel,” he said.