Monday, 25 September, 2017

Democrats get a special counsel - but still want more

Kenny Thornton | 19 May, 2017, 16:18

There could be a side benefit for Rod Rosenstein in appointing a special counsel to head an investigation into possible Russian coordination with the Trump campaign: reviving his own reputation, heavily battered for his role in the firing of James Comey, who had been leading the probe.

Yet they still weren't satisfied.

When asked about whether he pushed Comey, the man he fired earlier in the month, to end the Russian Federation investigation, Trump was firm and quick to reply: "No, no".

And they wanted the investigations already underway by the Intelligence committees in the House of Representatives and the Senate to keep going, a sentiment Republicans shared.

"He will need an outside team for this", a Republican close to the White House said. Nonsense, said Roger Pilon, founding director of the Center for Constitutional Studies at the Libertarian-leaning Cato Institute.

"There needs to be a relationship with that investigation where they can say with confidence, 'This really is a problem for us, ' or 'Hey, we'd rather you didn't do it, but it's not a problem, ' " Blunt said.

No, said Democrats, suggesting that special counsel Robert Mueller may not be a truly independent investigator because he will answer to the Justice Department and Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

During the 2016 presidential campaign, Trump repeatedly vowed to instruct a special prosecutor to investigate Clinton if he won.

"I am concerned that Director Mueller will still be subject to the supervision of the Trump administration leadership at the Justice Department", House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., told reporters Thursday.

"The special counsel has no legal or other obligation to interface or interact at all with Congress about the substance of the investigation", Frenkel said.

Rep. Adam Schiff of California, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, concurred.

"Bob has led the bureau during incredibly challenging times", Obama said.

In appointing Mueller, the Justice Department selected a seasoned law enforcement veteran who guided the Federal Bureau of Investigation through the aftermath of the September 11 attacks and led its terror-fighting efforts over the next decade.

See photos of the scene — Times Square crash
The crash happened at midday on a hot, clear day that brought large crowds of people into the streets to enjoy the good weather. Police do not suspect a link to terrorism and the driver was taken into custody to be tested for alcohol.

Rosenstein, who at his confirmation hearing would not commit to a special counsel appointment and who inherited the probe following Sessions' recusal, seemed to acknowledge the public outcry by calling Mueller's selection "necessary in order for the American people to have full confidence in the outcome".

"Some people don't want the story to die, right?"

"We'll get rid of the smoke and see where the actual issues lie", said Sen.

Rep. Elijah E. Cummings (D-Md.), the ranking Democrat on the House Oversight Committee, is "on board" with those efforts to push ahead - but he acknowledged that congressional committees that rely on "part-time staff" can not compete with the Federal Bureau of Investigation probe.

House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., hailed Mueller's appointment, but added that "we have a process in place here in Congress, and the administration now has a process in place at the Justice Department".

At the February 27 press briefing, Spicer said, "I think that Russia's involvement in activity has been investigated up and down".

Mr Rosenstein, the No 2 Justice Department official, named Mr Mueller amid mounting pressure in Congress for an independent investigation beyond existing FBI and congressional probes into the Russian Federation issue.

"I've always believed that a counterintelligence investigation did not need a special prosecutor or counsel, a criminal investigation might", Graham said. Lindsay Graham, R-S.C., a senior Senate Judiciary Committee member.

"You're pretty well knocked out of the game", he said about the ongoing high-profile congressional probes, "and that's probably the way it should be".

If the decision were based on Comey's refusal to "let go" of some criminal investigation of Mr. Flynn in the intervening three months, that could potentially constitute obstruction of justice.

Rosenstein acknowledged as much, saying in a statement Wednesday that the "public interest requires me to place this investigation under the authority of a person who exercises a degree of independence from the normal chain of command".

Some anxious that the multiple probes could create a problem much the way they did during the Ronald Reagan-era Iran-Contra investigation in the late 1980s.

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