Sessions defers GOP demand for another special counsel

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In a letter to leaders of the House and Senate judiciary and oversight committees on Thursday, Sessions named U.S. attorney John Huber of Utah as the federal prosecutor tasked with probing the FBI's investigations into Hillary Clinton and the bureau's alleged abuse of surveillance to spy on a Trump campaign adviser.

Sessions announced on Thursday that a federal prosecutor was evaluating certain issues involving the FBI, but said he would not appoint a second special counsel at this point. The letter is addressed to Senate Judiciary Committee Chuck Grassley, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, and House Oversight Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy.

Republicans have pushed Sessions and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to name a second special counsel in recent months.

But, in a four-page letter sent to lawmakers Thursday, Sessions said a special counsel is reserved for extraordinary circumstances, and argues that the GOP allegations do not rise to that level.

Democrats say the allegations are an effort to distract from and undermine the work of Special Counsel Robert Mueller as his team's investigation of alleged Russian efforts to influence the 2016 election has intensified this year.

"I am confident that Mr. Huber's review will include a full, complete and objective evaluation of these matters that is consistent with the law and the facts", the attorney general said in his letter.

Thus when an Inspector General, in the course of an IG investigation discovers criminal activity, the IG must report the discovery to someone who can do something about it. U. S. Attorney John Huber of Utah can do something about it.

Nonetheless, his decision not to appoint a special counsel, at least for now, is nearly certain to disappoint Republicans.

Sessions' referral of the allegations to the inspector general enraged President Donald Trump, who said Sessions should have ordered is own investigation.

"For instance, the IG's office does not have authority to compel witness interviews, including from past employees, so its investigation will be limited in scope in comparison to a Special Counsel investigation", Goodlatte said in a statement.

Mueller, too, has been functioning much like a USA attorney's office, although he enjoys some special protections that Huber would not have.

MPR reports that the Federal Bureau of Investigation identified about 27 secret documents published by the Intercept in 2016 and 2017, and the news outlet made two Freedom of Information requests in 2016, which pertained to information that was not available to the public.