WORLD: US Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ public suggestion that he may appoint a special counsel to investigate Hillary Clinton has alarmed justice officials.
UNITED STATES: US Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ public suggestion that he may appoint a special counsel to investigate Hillary Clinton has alarmed current and former Justice Department officials, who fear he will further politicise the embattled agency.
Sessions said at a congressional hearing yesterday that he will weigh recommendations from senior prosecutors on whether to appoint a special counsel over a 2010 uranium company deal and other issues, including donations to the Clinton Foundation.
Such an appointment could give US President Donald Trump and Republicans a political counterweight to the ongoing work of Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who is probing whether any Trump associates coordinated with the Russian government to interfere in last year’s presidential election.
‘‘To have the winning side exploring the possibility of prosecuting the losing side in an election - it’s un-american, and it’s grotesque,’’ said John Danforth, a former special counsel who investigated the FBI’S role in a violent standoff with a cult in Waco, Texas in 1993.
The first year of the Trump administration has been a turbulent one for the Justice Department. FBI Director James Comey was fired, and Trump has repeatedly and publicly attacked the department, the FBI and senior officials at those agencies, complaining that he wishes he could have more control over how they pursue criminal cases.
It is unclear how Sessions might appoint a special counsel, given that he has recused himself from investigative matters involving the 2016 campaign due to his vocal support of Trump and fierce public criticism of Clinton.
Sessions also told the House Judiciary Committee yesterday that he had ‘‘always told the truth’’ in describing his knowledge of Trump campaign contacts with Russians.
However, he acknowledged that he now recalled an interaction with a lower-level adviser to Trump, George Papadopoulos, who said he told Sessions about contacts who could help to arrange a meeting between Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin.
US Attorney General Jeff Sessions testifies before a House Judiciary Committee hearing on oversight of the Justice Department yesterday.