AG Sessions reveals 'a person outside of Washington' already has been appointed to investigate FISA abuses
Is Attorney General Jeff Sessions really standing in the way of a full investigation of wrongdoing by the FBI and Justice Department officials, abusing their offices to spy on the Trump campaign and presidency? President Trump's now infamous "disgraceful" tweet seems to indicate a loss of confidence:
Why is A.G. Jeff Sessions asking the Inspector General to investigate potentially massive FISA abuse. Will take forever, has no prosecutorial power and already late with reports on Comey etc. Isn’t the I.G. an Obama guy? Why not use Justice Department lawyers? DISGRACEFUL!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 28, 2018
Sessions has antagonized many conservatives, many of whom expect him to be fired by President Trump or else are outright demanding said firing.
Last night, in an exclusive interview with Shannon Bream of Fox News, Sessions revealed that he already has appointed someone to investigate the allegations coming from the chairmen of the House Judiciary and Oversight and Government Reform Committees, Bob Goodlatte and Trey Gowdy, who are requesting appointment of a special counsel.
Jake Gibson tweeted out the key revelation:
Sessions on calls for second Special Counsel: “I have appointed a person outside of Washington, many years in the Department of Justice, to look at all the allegations that the House Judiciary Committee members sent to us and we're conducting that investigation.” @ShannonBream pic.twitter.com/qpNO9MTiA2— Jake Gibson (@JakeBGibson) March 7, 2018
Video of the interview may be seen here.
I have no way of knowing when the appointment was made of a non-D.C. veteran DOJ prosecutor, nor do I know how much progress has been made in that investigation. However, three points are worth considering.
- It is better for the DOJ to be quiet about its investigations. Grand jury proceedings are secret for good reason. If convictions for wrongdoers are the goal, it is best to keep these investigations secret. So it is quite possible that a lot of progress already has been made, and that appointment of a special counsel could actually set back the investigatory progress.
- Sessions is a stickler for proper procedure and ethics. The fact that he revealed an ongoing investigation indicates that he is feeling pressure. It would not be surprising if he has kept quiet for a long period of time. I can't think of a plausible explanation for why he would be delaying or obstructing a legal reckoning. I can't credit any notion that he is a double agent or Deep State operative.
- Hasty or reckless action could lead to failure to convict or an overturned guilty verdict, if any procedural errors take place.
Now, it may be true that the entire Department of Justice, including the FBI, is fatally compromised and unable to investigate itself. That is the rationale for appointing any special counsel and the major reason cited by Chairmen Goodlatte and Gowdy in their letter requesting appointment of a special counsel. And Sessions tells Bream right off the bat in the video segment above that he is "seriously considering" their argument.
But I am not ready to conclude that no honest, diligent, and dedicated prosecutors are left at the DOJ, nor that the FBI in total has been corrupted. In fact, it looks as though under Obama, the upper levels of those organizations were staffed by partisan hacks on the order of Andrew McCabe and Peter Strzok, but wholesale replacement of the career officials below them has not taken place. The very best assets for a good investigation would be officials who are angry about the politicization under Obama and who may, in fact, have been taking names and quietly accumulating evidence.
I urgently want a deep and thorough investigation, and eventual prosecution if evidence is developed of criminality. And I share the president's and many conservatives' frustration that Sessions recused himself from the appointment of Robert Mueller, allowing Rod Rosentstein to pick him and charge him in a way that excluded any collusion by Hillary's campaign and the Democrats but allowed a fishing expedition where Trump is concerned.
However, there is a considerable delay if a new investigatory apparatus has to be set up by a new special counsel. It would take time to vet possible appointments and staff up. And if outsiders are appointed, their unfamiliarity with the DOJ and FBI cold impose further delays and cause mistakes to be made, including overlooking evidence because they don't know where to find it.
The same sort of considerations applies to firing Sessions and appointing a successor. First of all, there is the small matter of Senate confirmation. That could delay or prevent an effective replacement from taking office, leaving the necessary reforms to weed out bad apples and implement new guidelines in limbo. A brand new A.G. would have to start all over again, figuring out who can be trusted and who cannot, and figuring out what sort of changes in policies and procedures needs to be implemented.
Hat tip: Clarice Feldman