Trump lawyers greenlight second special counsel
The appointment of a second special counsel to investigate the FBI and Justice Department took a giant step forward yesterday when the president's deputy press secretary, Raj Shah, told reporters on Air Force One that the president's legal team had given their approval.
President Donald Trump's legal team backs the idea of appointing a second special counsel to investigate the FBI and Justice Department, a White House spokesman said Monday.
The president's attorneys have already signed off on the notion of picking a special counsel to probe U.S. intelligence and law enforcement agencies' actions during the 2016 presidential campaign, Axios reported Monday, citing White House spokesman Raj Shah.
The Justice Department would have to appoint the special prosecutor.
If a second special counsel takes shape, it would mark perhaps the most drastic move by the Trump administration to delve into accusations of wrongdoing at the FBI and Justice Department leveled by the president and conservative lawmakers. Trump has repeatedly tried to draw attention away from special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian efforts to influence the 2016 election and whether the Trump campaign coordinated with the Kremlin.
The special counsel can be appointed by the attorney general, or the president can ask DoJ to appoint one. With Trump's lawyers signing off on the appointment, the president has a couple of options on how to proceed.
He can go ahead and ask AG Sessions to make the appointment almost immediately, requesting that the special counsel investigate bias and corruption in the Russia probe. Or - and this is probably more likely - the president can wait for the Justice Department inspector general report on the FBI handling of the Clinton email case, which could then include an investigation of all DoJ activities. The IG report is expected in March or April.
The IG report has been in the works for more than a year already and promises to be controversial no matter what it says. A special counsel could look into the FBI handling of the email case and expand his investigation to include the Russia probe, given that both cases may reveal bias on the part of the DoJ.
Washington would explode if Trump appointed a second special counsel to investigate the FBI, and, almost certainly Hillary Clinton. Democrats will say that Trump is trying to undermine Mueller's investigation and call for his indictment or impeachment. With the help of a pliant media, there is a chance that the public will see it that way.
Investigating the investigators would be politically hazardous going into the mid terms. Better that than an attempt by Mueller to railroad Trump out of office.