Jeff Sessions exploring a special counsel to look at Clinton Foundation
Attorney general Jeff Sessions is leaving open the possibility that a special counsel could be appointed to look into Clinton Foundation dealings and an Obama-era uranium deal, the justice department said Monday.
In a letter to the House judiciary committee, which is holding an oversight hearing Tuesday, the justice department said Sessions had directed senior federal prosecutors to “evaluate certain issues” recently raised by Republican lawmakers.
The prosecutors will report to Sessions and deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein and recommend whether any new investigations should be opened, whether any matters currently under investigation require additional resources and whether it might be necessary to appoint a special counsel to oversee an investigation, according to a letter sent to congressman Robert Goodlatte of Virginia, the judiciary committee’s Republican chairman.
Assistant attorney general Stephen Boyd did not say in the letter what specific steps might be taken by the justice department to address the lawmakers’ concerns, or whether any of the matters Republicans have seized might on already be under investigation.
The letter comes one day before Sessions is to appear before the judiciary panel for a justice department oversight hearing. Democrats on the committee have already signaled that they intend to press Sessions on his knowledge of contacts between Russians and aides to the Trump campaign.
It also comes as he has faces criticism from Trump over the lack of investigation as well. The president tweeted on November 3, “everybody is asking why the Justice Department (and FBI) isn’t looking into all of the dishonesty going on with Crooked Hillary amp; the Dems.”
Any appointment of a new special counsel, particularly in response to calls from members of Congress, is likely to lead to Democratic complaints about an undue political influence on the department’s decision-making.
Trump in recent weeks has repeatedly weighed in on department affairs, publicly lamenting that he does not have more direct involvement with it and calling on law enforcement scrutiny of Democrat Hillary Clinton, his opponent in the 2016 presidential race, and other Democrats. He has been particularly interested in the Clinton Foundation.
In apparent anticipation of those concerns, Boyd said in the letter that the department “will never evaluate any matter except on the facts and the law”.
Sessions said at his January confirmation hearing that he would recuse himself from any investigations involving Hillary Clinton given his role as a vocal campaign surrogate to Donald Trump. He similarly recused himself from a separate investigation into potential coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia, and in May, the justice department appointed former FBI director Robert Mueller as special counsel to lead that investigation.
House Republicans in recent weeks have launched their own investigations into the Obama administration and Hillary Clinton’s emails.
Some have specifically said they want to know more about whether Obama’s justice department was investigating the purchase of American uranium mines by a Russianbacked company in 2010. The agreement was reached while Hillary Clinton led the state department and some investors in the company had relationships with former president Bill Clinton and donated large sums to the Clinton Foundation.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions Delivers Remarks On National Security In NYCNEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 02: Attorney General Jeff Sessions speaks about domestic security in New York on November 2, 2017 in New York City. Sessions, the nation’s top law enforcement official, claimed that the Department of Justice has “hundreds” of ongoing terrorism-related investigations into people who came to the U.S. as refugees. New York City is still recovering from Tuesday’s events in which a man inspired by the Islamic State carried out a deadly attack near the World Trade Center with a rented truck. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images) Photograph: Spencer Platt/Getty Images