For several weeks now, prominent Republicans in Congress, as well as many in right-wing leaning media, have been clamoring for a second special counsel to investigate alleged politically motivated abuses by the FBI, both in obtaining FISA warrants for surveillance on Donald Trump campaign aide Carter Page as well as James Comey’s decision to end the investigation into Hillary Clinton and her email server. In a letter addressed to the lawmakers on Thursday, however, Attorney General Jeff Sessions dashed those hopes, at least for the time being.
According to an article in the Los Angeles Times, Sessions used the letter to announce that he was naming Utah prosecutor John W. Huber to investigate the conduct of the FBI but that appointing a second special counsel required “extraordinary circumstances” and that those regarding the allegations against the FBI do not amount to that.
Apparently Huber has been working on the case since this past November and Sessions plans to rely on his recommendation whether a special counsel will need to be appointed or charges filed against either Clinton or any members of the FBI or Justice Department.
“I am confident that Mr. Huber’s review will include a full, complete and objective evaluation of these matters that is consistent with the law and the facts.”
According to an NPR report, Huber will be conducting his investigation in coordination with Justice Department Inspector General Michael E. Horowitz, who had previously announced his own review of the FBI’s handling of the Carter Page and Hillary Clinton cases.
Sessions’ letter has not been popular on either side of the political spectrum. Quite a few powerful Republicans, such as Senators Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and John Cornyn (R-Texas) and Representatives Robert Goodlatte (R-Va.) and Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.), have long been critical of the FBI and have been pushing for the appointment of a new special counsel to investigate what they believe are politically motivated abuses. They have been critical of the FBI since text messages emerged between agents Peter Strzok and Lisa Page that were less than flattering towards Donald Trump in the waning days of the 2016 presidential campaign.
On the other hand, Sessions’ letter was also sharply criticized by Democrats in Congress, who accuse Sessions of pulling a political stunt with the express purpose of making President Trump happy. According to a report from CNN, Representative Eric Swalwell (D-CA) went so far as to say that Sessions was just “throwing meat out there to appease the president.”