At least four U.S. senators are joining a number of their colleagues in the U.S. House seeking a new special counsel in Washington.
Special Counsel Robert Mueller already has been working for a year to try to find evidence of Trump campaign collusion with Russia during the 2016 presidential race.
So far, nothing.
Now the senators are joining several members of the U.S. House in calling for a special counsel to investigate how Mueller was appointed, the details of how the Obama administration came to snoop on a Trump campaign figure under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and more.
The Washington Times reports Sens. Charles E. Grassley, R-Iowa, and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., acknowledged that the Department of Justice inspector general already is looking into these issues, but that office is constrained by law, and it will “take someone with special counsel powers to get to the bottom of what happened.”
“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 senators said.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions told Fox News he would “consider” making such an appointment.
The Russia investigations, including special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe, were prompted primarily by an anti-Trump “dossier” of largely unverified political dirt financed by the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee that was used to obtain a warrant to spy on a Trump campaign adviser.
Reps. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., of the House Intelligence Committee and Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, earlier said the additional appointment is needed.
“Well, I have great respect for Mr. Gowdy and Chairman Goodlatte, and we are going to consider seriously their recommendations,” Sessions told Bream at the time.
“I have appointed a person outside of Washington – many years at the Department of Justice – to look at all of the allegations that the House Judiciary Committee members sent to us and we are conducting that investigation.”
Watch Sessions’ statements about a second special counsel to investigate possible FISA abuses by the DOJ and FBI:
One of the issues is the integrity of the secret FISA court and whether or not the Obama administration turned it into a political weapon against then-candidate Donald Trump.
“We are not afraid to look at that,” Sessions said. “The inspector general, something that our inspector general is not very strong, but he has almost 500 employees, most of which are lawyers and prosecutors, and they are looking at the FISA process.”
Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, told the Daily Caller the second special counsel should be “someone from Oklahoma, Iowa, somewhere from the middle of the country.'”
“A well-respected, retired federal judge or some prosecutor who’s well respected to assemble a team and let them do it,” Jordan said. “I don’t see any other remedy.”
The Times report on Thursday said Grassley and Graham were joined by Sens. John Cornyn, R-Texas, and Thom Tillis, R-N.C.
The Hill reported last month that more than a dozen House Republicans urged Sessions to make such an appointment to investigate Hillary Clinton.
They apparently believe there’s still more to find concerning Clinton’s abuse of classified information, as well as the origins of the Russian election-meddling investigation and the allegations of surveillance abuses by the FBI.
“We acknowledge with immense gratitude that nearly every single man and woman in the [Department of Justice] and the FBI conduct themselves daily with integrity, independence, patriotism, objectivity, and commitment to the rule of law,” the letter from members of Congress to Sessions said then.
“That is why this special counsel is of utmost importance to ensure that these historic, legendary, and necessary agencies move forward more respected and effective than before.”
There also were calls for a second special counsel in January after the FBI revealed it failed to save five months worth of text messages between two FBI agents who exhibited an anti-Trump bias.
When the GOP released a memo claiming the DOJ abused its powers to spy on the Trump campaign, Democrats responded with a memo that insisted it wasn’t so.
Fox News reported Gowdy previously was not a supporter of a second special counsel.
“What changed for me was the knowledge that there are two-dozen witnesses that Michael Horowitz, the [DOJ] inspector general, would not have access to,” Gowdy told Fox News. “When I counted up 24 witnesses that he would not be able to access were he to investigate it, yeah only one conclusion, that’s special counsel.”