Ranking Republican senators are calling on the Department of Justice to appoint a second special counsel to investigate potential abuses by FBI and Justice Department employees connected to their role in the investigation into President Trump.
Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, Sen. Lindsay Graham, R-SC, Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas and Sen. Thom Tillis, R- N.C. officially joined other Congressional members in their call for a special counsel to work alongside DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz. Horowitz has been conducting an investigation into the matter for more than a year. Graham and Grassley joined Fox News Bret Baier on Thursday’s Special Report and stressed the urgency of getting a special counsel to investigate alongside the Inspector General.
Graham told this reporter on Thursday that he believes a special counsel will be appointed to work alongside Horowitz.
“(Horowitz) is a good guy but institutionally he’s limited,” said Graham. “And with all the intrigue inside the DOJ, appointing an independent special counsel benefits both Democrats and Republicans – nobody can suggest its cooked.”
A letter sent to DOJ Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein from the senators says they “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 gather all the facts, such as the ability to obtain testimony from essential witnesses who are not current DOJ employees,” the letter states. “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.”
Grassley and Graham, who released a redacted version of their own criminal referral of former British spy Christopher Steele last month, noted in the letter to the DOJ that Horowitz does not have access to a grand jury that can compel witnesses to talk. Steele, who put together the unverified dossier accusing Trump of collusion with the Russians, is being investigated for lying to the FBI about his contacts with the media and other matters, as reported.
“The Justice Department cannot credibly investigate itself…”
The two senators had written to the Inspector General’s office in February, “requesting a broad review of more than 30 classified and unclassified questions related to the Trump-Russia probe” but were not able to obtain the information.
“…because the Inspector General lacks access to grand jury process and other prosecutorial tools, a special counsel with such authority may be necessary to compel the production of testimony and information that would otherwise be unobtainable,” a press release from Grassley and Graham issued Thursday stated.
The letter to Sessions and Rosenstein outlines the importance of appointing a special counsel to support Horowitz’s independent investigation.
The senators state that the appointment “should occur under the specific Justice Department regulations that govern special counsels and limit the scope of their authority. The senators further request that if the Attorney General or Deputy Attorney General determines a special counsel is not appropriate or necessary, then the Department designate a U.S. Attorney’s office or another prosecutor with no real or apparent conflict to work” with Horowitz on the case.
Earlier this month House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-VA, and House Oversight Chairman Trey Gowdy, R-SC, sent a letter to Rosenstein and Sessions also urging them to appoint a special counsel to investigate the accumulation of evidence uncovered by the congressional committees and Inspector General.
Goodlatte and Gowdy sent a letter addressing evidence uncovered by the House Intelligence Committee that accused the FBI and Justice Department of failing to disclose to the secret FISA court that the Hillary Clinton Campaign and Democratic National Committee financed the dossier put together by former British spy Christopher Steele at the behest of embattled security firm Fusion GPS.