Four GOP Senators have sent a letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions requesting the appointment of a second Special Counsel to look into the FBI’s use of the Steele Dossier. From Politico:
The Judiciary panel’s chairman, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), was joined by Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), John Cornyn (R-Texas), and Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) in requesting that DOJ name a special prosecutor to zero in on possible mishandling of the FBI’s Russia investigation prior to the appointment of special counsel Robert Mueller. Specifically, the quartet raised concerns about the FBI’s relationship with Christopher Steele, who compiled a dossier of verified and unverified intelligence alleging a Russian effort to compromise now-President Donald Trump.
Grassley and Graham, who previously requested that the DOJ open a criminal probe of Steele’s conduct, on Feb. 28 asked DOJ inspector general Michael Horowitz to probe the department’s handling of investigations into Trump transition or campaign officials, as well as the Trump administration before Mueller’s appointment. Horowitz has been investigating possible DOJ misconduct related to the Hillary Clinton email investigation since early 2017.
The full letter, which was posted on the Judiciary Committee website, mentions the previous referral to the IG and offers an explanation for why a Special Counsel would be more appropriate. It reads in part (pdf link):
We have the utmost confidence in the Inspector General’s integrity, fairness, and impartiality, and trust that he will complete these reviews in a thorough, unbiased, and timely fashion. However, by statute, the Inspector General does not have the tools that a prosecutor would to gather all the facts, such as the ability to obtain testimony from essential witnesses who are not currently DOJ employees. Thus, we believe that a special counsel is needed to work with the Inspector General to independently gather the facts and make prosecutorial decisions, if any are merited. The Justice Department cannot credibly investigate itself without these enhanced measures of independence to ensure that the public can have confidence in the outcome.
Earlier this month Rep. Gowdy and Rep. Goodlatte also called for the appointment of a second Special Counsel to investigate potential FISA abuse connected to the Steele dossier. Their letter to AG Sessions made the same argument using very similar language:
Because the decisions of both former and current Department of Justice and FBI officials are at issue, we do not believe the Department of Justice is capable of investigating and evaluating these fact patterns in a fashion likely to garner public confidence. In addition, while we have confidence in the Inspector General for the Department of Justice, the DOJ IG does not have the authority to investigate other governmental entities or former employees of the Department, the Bureau, or other agencies.
At the time Gowdy and Goodlatte sent that letter, AG Sessions said he was looking at the issue and considering it seriously. As you’ll see in this interview from last week, Sessions was already taking heat from President Trump for suggesting the DOJ IG could handle the investigation into possible FISA abuse. Now you can add GOP members of the Senate to the group of Republicans formally encouraging Sessions to appoint a second special counsel to investigate this.