Republican Leaders Call For Second Special Counsel To Investigate Russia Probe: Report
In a desperate move to save President Donald Trump, GOP leaders are calling for a second special counsel to investigate Trump’s allegations of bias and abuse at the FBI.
Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) said Monday he backs the appointment of another special counsel to look at how law enforcement has handled the Russia probe, according to The Hill.
Scalise’s statement echoed similar calls from Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) over the weekend.
The moves align the No. 2 and No. 3 House GOP leaders with President Trump, whose legal team wants the second special counsel to investigate whether FBI and Justice Department officials abused the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) by obtaining a surveillance warrant on former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page.
McCarthy and Scalise join a growing chorus of powerful GOP lawmakers who support another special counsel.
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) and House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) have called on Sessions and Rosenstein to appoint a second special counsel to investigate “potential criminality” related to the surveillance warrant application for Page.
They also called for a review of any evidence of “bias” by Justice Department or FBI employees, as well as whether there was any “extraneous influence” on the surveillance process.
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) sent a letter to Sessions and Rosenstein last week asking for a special counsel to “gather all the facts.”
Attorney General Jeff Sessions last week revealed he has tapped a former official outside the Beltway to review the need for a second special counsel, suggesting the idea is receiving a serious look.
The creation of a second special counsel would almost certainly muddy the waters surrounding Mueller’s investigation and could undermine it by raising questions about his evidence.
Democrats argue the creation of a second investigation would be a smokescreen designed to shift criticism toward 2016 Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, whom Trump has repeatedly blamed for the instigation of the probe.
“The Mueller probe should never have been started in that there was no collusion and there was no crime,” Trump tweeted on Saturday in a message notable for calling Mueller out by name.
“It was based on fraudulent activities and a Fake Dossier paid for by Crooked Hillary and the [Democratic National Committee], and improperly used in [Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act] COURT for surveillance of my campaign. WITCH HUNT!”
“That appears to be a political distraction machine,” Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-Texas) said of the growing calls for a second special counsel. “I think that’s the point of it, for them to try to equate everything, basically try to paint a picture as though everybody messed up, or everybody’s bad, therefore nobody’s bad.”
Castro expressed concern that Trump would fire Mueller regardless of whether there is a second special counsel in place.
“My sense is that ultimately, if the special counsel gets close to people around the president, that the president will fire Bob Mueller,” Castro said.