Despite a letter sent from the Justice Department on Monday, indicating Attorney General Jeff Sessions was looking into the possibility of appointing a special counsel to investigate several unresolved matters regarding Hillary Clinton, he didn’t give any confirmation Tuesday that such a move was necessary.
Sessions testified before the House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, and got into a heated exchange with Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), who demanded, “What’s it going to take to actually get a special counsel?”
“It would take a factual basis that meets the standards of the appointment of a special counsel,” Sessions responded.
“Is that analysis going on right now?” Jordan retorted.
“Well, it’s in the manual in the Department of Justice about what’s required,” Sessions said.
“We will use the proper standards and that’s the only thing I can tell you, Mr. Jordan,” he added. “You can have your idea but sometimes we have to study what the facts are and to evaluate whether it meets the standards that requires a special counsel.”
Jordan laid out his case, pressuring Sessions to appoint a special counsel.
“We know one fact. We know the Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee paid for the dossier,” he said.
“And it sure looks like the FBI was paying the author of that document and it sure looks like a major political party was working with the federal government to then turn an opposition research document — the equivalent of some National Enquirer story — into an intelligence document to take that to the FISA Court so they could then get a warrant to spy on President Trump’s campaign,” Jordan said.
“That’s what it looks like and I’m asking you, in addition to all the things we know about James Comey in 2016, doesn’t that warrant naming a second special counsel?” he said.
Rep. Jim Jordan: What will it take to get a special counsel?
AG Sessions: “It would take a factual basis that meets the standards of the appointment of a special counsel.” https://t.co/obU9oYboRn pic.twitter.com/cCnAJBUwCQ
— CBS News (@CBSNews) November 14, 2017
Below is the video of the full exchange, followed by details on the letters sent from Judiciary Committee Republicans requesting the special counsel to investigate Clinton, and the response from the Justice Department Monday that led them to believe Sessions might be on the verge of granting their request.
Monday, the Justice Department announced in a letter that Attorney General Jeff Sessions has now taken the first steps to evaluate whether a second special council should be appointed to open a probe into matters concerning Hillary Clinton, the Clinton Foundation, and the controversial sale of Uranium One to a Russian company.
The letter came from Assistant Attorney General Stephen Boyd, in response to two requests from House Republicans.
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) and other Judiciary Committee Republicans had sent a letter in July 2017 to Attorney General Sessions and Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein, calling for a second special council to be appointed, to investigate matters which might be “outside the scope of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.”
Specifically, they wanted an investigation into certain incidents connected to the 2016 election, including many actions taken by Obama Administration officials like former Attorney General Loretta Lynch, FBI Director James Comey, and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
The FBI’s handling of the investigation into Hillary’s Clinton’s use of a private email server during her term as secretary of state, matters involving the Clinton Foundation, and Russia’s purchase of the Canadian mining company Uranium One were also all on the list of issues they wanted investigated.
When they did not receive a response from the Justice Department, Goodlatte and the Judiciary Committee Republicans blasted out another letter on September 26, 2017, again asking for a second special counsel to be appointed.
Monday, Assistant Attorney General Stephen Boyd sent a letter confirming that the Republicans concerns were being addressed.
“The Attorney General has directed senior federal prosecutors to evaluate certain issues raised in your letters,” Boyd wrote.
“These senior prosecutors will report directly to the Attorney General and the Deputy Attorney General [Rod Rosenstein], as appropriate, and will make recommendations as to whether any matters not currently under investigation should be opened, whether any matters currently under investigation require further resources, or whether any matters merit the appointment of a Special Counsel,” the letter continued.
“You must know the Department will never evaluate any matter except on the facts and the law. Professionalism, integrity, and public confidence in the Department’s work is critical for us, and no priority is higher.”
“The Department has forwarded a copy of your letters to the IG so he can determine whether he should expand the scope of his investigation based on the information contained in those letters,” Boyd wrote. “Once the IG’s review is complete, the Department will assess what, if any, additional steps are necessary to address any issues identified by that review.”
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