Attorney General Sessions Contemplates Appointing a Second Special Counsel
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By John Ubaldi
Contributor, In Homeland Security
Attorney General Jeff Sessions is considering appointing a second special counsel. That special counsel would investigate the possible abuse of power by the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the FBI in their investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
Earlier this month, Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) and Chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC) sent a letter to Sessions requesting a new special counsel to investigate “evidence of bias” by the DOJ and the FBI.
Their letter also calls for the new special counsel to look into Republican allegations that the FBI misled a federal judge in order to obtain a warrant to conduct surveillance of U.S. citizen Carter Page, a former campaign aide to President Trump. The special counsel would also investigate the controversial Russian dossier used in court filings by “former and current” officials at the DOJ and FBI over the past two years.
Goodlatte and Gowdy believe the DOJ Inspector General, who is currently conducting an investigation, doesn’t have the subpoena power to investigate other government entities or former employees of the DOJ and the FBI. The two lawmakers count 24 witnesses that the IG cannot speak to, including former FBI director James Comey and former FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe.
Four Republican senators have also called for a second special counsel. This special counsel would also look into how the DOJ and the FBI handled the Russia probe before Special Counsel Robert Mueller began his investigation.
Did DOJ and FBI Become Politicized by the Obama Administration?
Questions still exist concerning the 2016 presidential election. Did the DOJ and the FBI become politicized by the Obama administration to exonerate Hillary Clinton of federal crimes? Once Clinton lost the election, did these government agencies frame Donald Trump and his campaign for colluding with the Russians?
Much of this controversy has been alleged to be mere bias. But allegations have emerged that there was deep-seated hatred within the two agencies toward Trump and his agenda.
One of the biggest critiques of the DOJ and the FBI is that a special counsel wasn’t appointed to look into the Clinton email scandal. Some observers claim there was probable cause that a crime had been committed.
In addition, although a special counsel was appointed by the DOJ to look into Russian collusion by Trump and his campaign, no one seems to be able to articulate exactly what crime was committed.
A number of legal scholars have said that the investigations conducted under then-FBI Director James Comey failed to follow the basic elements of a criminal probe. That is why DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz is checking the FBI’s handling of the Clinton email investigation and other related investigations.
DOJ and FBI Mishandle Clinton Email investigation
Clinton and her team have never explained about how classified material, especially classified Top Secret material, ended up on a private unclassified server. It is also unclear how these documents were moved from a classified server to her unclassified server.
The DOJ and the FBI failed to secure the Clinton emails and other materials subpoenaed by the House. The DOJ and FBI did not empanel a grand jury. That action would have given investigators the legal authority to collect evidence by subpoenas for documents and witnesses.
Comey and Lynch Refused to Convene Grand Jury
Comey and former Attorney General Loretta Lynch refused to convene a grand jury while investigating Clinton. Without the authority to subpoena evidence or witnesses, why did Comey grant immunity to five Clinton aides to gain evidence that could easily have been obtained by a subpoena?
No grand jury was sought; the FBI never obtained a search warrant when there was a strong possibility that evidence would be destroyed. By her own admission, Clinton deleted half her emails and then claimed under the penalty of perjury that all work-related emails had been turned over to the government.
Later, it was discovered that a number of emails classified “secret” or “confidential” were never turned over. However, authorities still did not issue a search warrant.
Serious questions have arisen about how Comey utilized or allegedly failed to follow prosecutorial procedures:
- Why was one lawyer allowed to represent all four material witnesses, thus allowing them to coordinate their testimony?
- Why did Comey authorize the destruction of laptops belonging to Clinton aides that were subpoenaed by Congress?
- Why did Comey ignore the standard methods of how documents were classified in Clinton’s emails? Every person who has held a security clearance knows the basic rules of classification, so why was she held to a different standard?
- Why was Clinton never held to account for changing her public statements that always proved false?
Comey announced that the case against Clinton was closed on July 5, 2016. Why did Comey break DOJ protocols and violate the chain of command by assuming the authority of the attorney general when he made that announcement?
Comey Fails to Prosecute Clinton
One of the more controversial aspects of Comey’s handling of the Clinton email investigation was his use of the term “extremely careless,” instead of “gross negligence.” FBI official Peter Strzok was responsible for editing the language even before Comey was to interview Clinton.
Comey said “no reasonable prosecutor” would bring a case against Clinton. But many federal prosecutors would have utilized a grand jury, issued subpoenas and search warrants. They would have gone by DOJ procedures for conducting investigations. Those actions were not taken in this case.
Last Saturday, Sessions fired Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe. DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz had determined that McCabe made unauthorized leaks to the media and made disingenuous statements under oath.
Part of the reason given for McCabe’s dismissal was related to his handling of the Clinton Foundation investigation. McCabe authorized shutting down the investigation weeks before Comey cleared Clinton. While McCabe was overseeing the Clinton Foundation investigation, he never disclosed that his wife had run as a Democrat for the Virginia State Senate.
The Case of Trump-Russia Collusion
The most polarizing aspect at the center of the Russian collusion investigation is the FBI’s use of the dossier created by former British intelligence agent Christopher Steele. Steele put together a document of unsubstantiated information to be used against Trump and his presidency. This dossier was partially paid for by the Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee.
The only part of the dossier that has been verified was that former Trump campaign aide Carter Page had traveled to Moscow. But this fact was already known and the trip was perfectly legal.
This dossier then was allegedly used by the FBI and the DOJ to submit an application to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) Court. These federal agencies wanted warrants to conduct surveillance on Trump campaign officials.
A Cloud Hangs over the Special Counsel and the FBI
The Special Counsel’s conduct of the Russian collusion investigation has Democrats and Republicans locked in a partisan battle.
On Friday, it became public that former lead counsel Lisa Page and Strzok plotted to meet with the FISA judge who presided over the federal case against former White House national security adviser Michael Flynn. Both Page and Strzok had been removed from Mueller’s investigation staff.
Days after accepting Flynn’s guilty plea, FISA court Judge Rudolph Contreras unexpectedly recused himself from the case. Judge Emmet G. Sullivan took over.
Text messages showed that Page and Strzok conspired to meet with Contreras at the same time he was presiding over Flynn’s guilty plea. Was this the reason why Contreras recused himself from the Flynn case or was there some other reason?
Partisanship has gripped the very institutions that this nation needs to be above the partisan divide. The time may have come to investigate the investigators and restore public confidence in the DOJ and the FBI.
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