House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) and House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy (R-SC) are calling for a second special counsel to investigate potential bias, conflicts of interest, and decisions made by the Justice Department and FBI in 2016 and 2017.
The move, announced last Tuesday, comes after Attorney General Jeff Sessions said that the potential DOJ and FBI abuse of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act was being investigated by the Justice Department Inspector General, but not his prosecutors.
“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,” Goodlatte and Gowdy wrote in a March 6 letter to Sessions and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.
In the letter, they requested the special counsel to review:
— evidence of bias by any employee or agent of the DOJ, FBI, or other agencies;
— the decisions to charge or not charge and whether those decisions were made consistent with the applicable facts, the applicable law, and traditional investigative and prosecutorial policies and procedures;
— and whether the FISA process employed in the fall of 2016 and continuing into 2017 was lawful and pursuant to all relevant policies and procedures.
“We have tremendous respect for the women and men of federal law enforcement and federal prosecution. In the vast majority of fact patterns, the Department of Justice, the career prosecutors and law enforcement professionals who serve there, and the U.S. Attorneys’ Offices throughout the country are fully capable of investigating, evaluating, charging where appropriate, and prosecuting matters for which there is federal jurisdiction,” they wrote.
“Nevertheless, there are instances in which an actual or potential conflict of interest exists or appears to exist, or there are matters in which the public good would be furthered, and an independent Special Counsel is warranted as the relevant Federal regulations provide,” they continued.
“We believe that, in the case of certain decisions made and not made by the Department of Justice and FBI in 2016 and 2017, both an actual conflict of interest exists and separately, but equally significantly, the public interest requires the appointment of a Special Counsel.”
During the course of the House Intelligence and Senate Judiciary Committee’s investigation into allegations of Russian meddling, members uncovered that the Trump dossier was paid for by the Hillary Clinton campaign, used in an application to get a surveillance warrant, and that FBI agents who played key roles in the Clinton email and Trump Russia investigation loathed Trump and supported Clinton.
There is also concern over former Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe’s role. His wife had previously received donations for her state senate campaign from a top Clinton ally, but he had recused himself from the Clinton email investigation only one week before the election. Text messages between FBI agents Peter Strzok and Lisa Page revealed they had discussed the possibility of Trump’s election in his office, and that McCabe did not act immediately after discovering more Clinton emails on a top Clinton aide’s husband’s laptop.
“With respect to potential and actual conflicts of interest, decisions made and not made by both former and current Department of Justice and FBI officials have led to legitimate questions and concerns from the people whom we all serve,” Goodlatte and Gowdy wrote.
“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,” Goodlatte and Gowdy wrote.
“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,” they wrote.
“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,” they said.
There is no word yet from Sessions, but the decision to open a special counsel may not be his — he recused himself from all matters having to do with with election, since he served as a national security adviser to candidate Donald Trump.