Washington, D.C.— Rep. Trey Gowdy, chairman of the House Oversight Committee, and Rep. Bob Goodlatte, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, sent an official request on March 6 to Attorney General Jeff Sessions calling for the appointment of a special counsel to investigate the FBI’s alleged abuse of FISA surveillance and “decisions made or not made” by the Department of Justice (DOJ) preceding the 2016 presidential election and in its aftermath.
BREAKING: Chairmen @RepGoodlatte and @TGowdySC call for a second Special Counsel to investigate potential bias, conflicts of interest, FISA abuse & other decisions made by the Department of Justice in 2016 and 2017. https://t.co/eKt2PJhnNj
— House Judiciary GOP (@JudiciaryGOP) March 6, 2018
“There is evidence of bias, trending toward animus, among those charged with investigating serious cases,” the Committee chairmen wrote in their letter to Sessions. “There is evidence political opposition research was used in court filings. There is evidence this political opposition research was neither vetted before it was used nor fully revealed to the relevant tribunal.”
Sessions has called for a probe by the Office of the Inspector General (OIG), but Gowdy and Goodlatte, said the appointment of a special prosecutor is more applicable in this case due to the OIG’s lack of authority to investigate or compel former employees to cooperate — due to key figures no longer serving in government— and the DOJ’s inability to investigate itself.
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“While we have confidence in the Inspector General for the Department of Justice, the DOJ IG does not have the authority to investigate other governmental entities or former employees of the Department, the Bureau, or other agencies,” Gowdy and Goodlatte wrote.
The committee chairmen added, “Some have been reluctant to call for the appointment of a Special Counsel because such an appointment should be reserved for those unusual cases where existing investigative and prosecutorial entities cannot adequately discharge those duties. We believe this is just such a case.”
A report by the Washington Times listed a number of U.S. government officials that signed off on the FISA warrant to surveil unpaid Trump campaign volunteer Carter Page: former FBI Director James B. Comey; former Deputy Director Andrew McCabe; former acting Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates; former acting Deputy Attorney General Dana Boente; and current Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein all signed off on applications to surveil Carter Page, who had been a Trump campaign adviser.
In an interview with Fox News, Gowdy explained that the discovery of new information was behind the call for a second independent 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 said. “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.”
When asked why a special counsel was needed, Gowdy explained, “Congress doesn’t have the tools to investigate this… we leak like the Gossip Girls.”
Democrats claimed that the request was simply political theater meant to distract from Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.
“I can understand why House Republicans hope that DOJ will swoop in and save them from this mess — but that is not what the Department of Justice is for,” said Rep. Jerrold Nadler, ranking Democrat on the Judiciary Committee.
Days prior to the letter from Gowdy and Goodlatte, thirteen House Republicans made a similar request, calling for the appointment of an independent counsel to investigate the same issues.
The letter from the thirteen Congressmen stated: “Evidence has come to light that raises serious concerns about decisions and activities by leadership at the highest levels of the Department of Justice and Federal Bureau of Investigation regarding how and why the Clinton probe ended and how and why the Trump-Russia probe began.”
Calls for a second special counsel have grown in the wake of the House Intelligence Committee memo alleging the FBI relied on unvetted campaign opposition research, paid for by the Clinton campaign and the DNC, as evidence used to obtain secret warrants on Trump campaign officials.