The House Judiciary Committee issued a press release on July 27, 2017, stating that a formal request for the appointment of a second Special Counsel has been made to Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. The actual letter may be viewed here.
The Judiciary Committee members were specific in their request. They are asking for investigation into the following:
The members call for the appointment of a second special counsel to investigate grave concerns such as former Attorney General Lynch’s directive to former FBI Director Comey to mislead the American people on the nature of the investigation into former Secretary Clinton; the FBI and Justice Department’s investigative decisions related to the Clinton email investigation, including the immunity deals given to potential co-conspirators; selected leaks of classified information that unmasked U.S. persons incidentally collected upon by the intelligence community; and the FBI’s reliance on “Fusion GPS” in its investigation of the Trump campaign, among many others issues.
Fourteen specific topics of investigation are noted – many of which were asked previously but remain unanswered:
- Then-Attorney General Loretta Lynch directing Mr. Comey to mislead the American people on the nature of the Clinton investigation;
- The shadow cast over our system of justice concerning Secretary Clinton and her involvement in mishandling classified information;
- FBI and DOJ’s investigative decisions related to former Secretary Clinton’s email investigation, including the propriety and consequence of immunity deals given to potential Clinton co-conspirators Cheryl Mills, Heather Samuelson, John Bentel and possibly others;
- The apparent failure of DOJ to empanel a grand jury to investigate allegations of mishandling of classified information by Hillary Clinton and her associates;
- The Department of State and its employees’ involvement in determining which communications of Secretary Clinton’s and her associates to turn over for public scrutiny;
- WikiLeaks disclosures concerning the Clinton Foundation and its potentially unlawful international dealings;
- Connections between the Clinton campaign, or the Clinton Foundation, and foreign entities, including those from Russia and Ukraine;
- Mr. Comey’s knowledge of the purchase of Uranium One by the company Rosatom, whether the approval of the sale was connected to any donations made to the Clinton Foundation, and what role Secretary Clinton played in the approval of that sale that had national security ramifications;
- Disclosures arising from unlawful access to the Democratic National Committee’s (DNC) computer systems, including inappropriate collusion between the DNC and the Clinton campaign to undermine Senator Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign;
- Post-election accusations by the President that he was wiretapped by the previous Administration, and whether Mr. Comey and Ms. Lynch had any knowledge of efforts made by any federal agency to unlawfully monitor communications of then-candidate Trump or his associates;
- Selected leaks of classified information related to the unmasking of U.S. person identities incidentally collected upon by the intelligence community, including an assessment of whether anyone in the Obama Administration, including Mr. Comey, Ms. Lynch, Ms. Susan Rice, Ms. Samantha Power, or others, had any knowledge about the “unmasking” of individuals on then candidate-Trump’s campaign team, transition team, or both;
- Admitted leaks by Mr. Comey to Columbia University law professor, Daniel Richman, regarding conversations between Mr. Comey and President Trump, how the leaked information was purposefully released to lead to the appointment of a special counsel, and whether any classified information was included in the now infamous “Comey memos”;
- Mr. Comey’s and the FBI’s apparent reliance on “Fusion GPS” in its investigation of the Trump campaign, including the company’s creation of a “dossier” of information about Mr. Trump, that dossier’s commission and dissemination in the months before and after the 2016 election, whether the FBI paid anyone connected to the dossier, and the intelligence sources of Fusion GPS or any person or company working for Fusion GPS and its affiliates; and
- Any and all potential leaks originated by Mr. Comey and provide to author Michael Schmidt dating back to 1993.
I have written previously about almost every one of these issues – including Comey’s Testimony, Comey’s handling of the Clinton Investigation, the Clinton Foundation, Uranium One, Unmasking, Obama’s Surveillance and the Russian Investigation.
They are all questions and topics that merit actual investigation.
The Committee’s questions fall into broader subgroups:
Hillary Clinton Investigation
Unmasking of U.S. Citizens
The final question pertains to Michael Schmidt, a New York Times reporter who has broken a number of stories on Trump-Russia as well as apparent leaks from Comey. You may find a complete listing of Schmidt’s articles here. Someone was whispering directly into his ear.
I’m not sure what will come from this letter – perhaps nothing – but the House Judiciary Committee’s timing is excellent. Attorney General Sessions has been under pressure for his recusal on the Russian Investigation along with his lack of prosecutorial zeal. If this request had come out a month ago, I would have noted it but not thought much else. At this particular juncture of events, I find myself marginally more hopeful that something – anything – might result from the Committee’s formal request.
I’m not a fan of Special Counsels – or Special Prosecutors – in general. Theirs is a power too broad, an incentive structure designed to create a need to find something, anything, once unleashed. But we have one already in Mueller. Having a second Special Counsel to investigate real and substantive issues might produce some meaningful answers – and perhaps even limit the scope of Mueller’s investigation to a more reasonable realm.
Don’t forget. It was Comey’s (likely criminal) leaking that led to the appointment of a Special Counsel in the first place. The irony of Comey’s testimony leading to the appointment of a second Special Counsel would prove fitting – and just.
Democrats asked for a Special Counsel Investigation. Let’s hope they get all they deserve.
newer post A Letter from Devin – Unmasking the Leakers