Attorney General Jeff Sessions is raising the possibility of naming a new special counsel to investigate potential wrongdoing by the Clinton Foundation, according to a letter the Justice Department sent Monday to House Republicans.
Sessions has asked top Justice Department prosecutors to look into a variety of allegations that have dominated conservative media outlets in recent months, including suggestions that a U.S. government panel approved the sale of a large uranium firm to Russian interests in exchange for donations to the foundation founded by Bill and Hillary Clinton, the letter to House members says.
“The Attorney General has directed senior federal prosecutors to evaluate certain issues raised in your letters,” Assistant Attorney General Stephen Boyd said in the letter, obtained by POLITICO and sent to House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), among others.
“These senior prosecutors will report directly to the Attorney General and the Deputy Attorney General, as appropriate, and will make recommendations as to whether any matters not currently under investigation should be opened, whether any matters currently under investigation, require further resources, or whether any matters merit the appointment of a Special Counsel,” Boyd added.
Boyd’s letter specifically referenced lawmakers’ claims of “unlawful dealings related to the Clinton Foundation,” as well as issues related to the sale of the mining firm, Uranium One, in 2013.
The letter was sent one day before Sessions is scheduled to make his first-ever appearance before the House Judiciary Committee.
Sessions’ move could assuage not only the concerns of Republican lawmakers, but also those of President Donald Trump, who has repeatedly taken to Twitter with urgent calls for the Justice Department to delve into the alleged illegality.
“Never seen such Republican ANGER & UNITY as I have concerning the lack of investigation on Clinton made Fake Dossier (now $12,000,000?), the Uranium to Russia deal, the 33,000 plus deleted Emails, the Comey fix and so much more. Instead they look at phony Trump/Russia, ‘collusion,’ which doesn’t exist,” Trump wrote on Twitter on Oct. 29, as the press was filled with reports of an indictment in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 election.
“There is so much GUILT by Democrats/Clinton, and now the facts are pouring out. DO SOMETHING!” Trump implored.
The Justice Department appeared eager to seek to head off charges that its actions came in response to political pressure. Prominent Democrats have already accused Sessions and Rosenstein of caving in to pressure from the White House on a variety of fronts, including by offering justifications for the firing of FBI Director James Comey.
“You must know the Department will never evaluate any matter except on the facts and the law,” Boyd wrote. “Professionalism, integrity, and public confidence in the Department’s work is critical for us, and no priority is higher.”
Boyd’s letter stops short of confirming any actual investigation or promising one on any topic. It also alludes to the fact that Sessions has recused himself from matters related to the 2016 campaign, although it remains unclear which of the matters Republicans want investigated would fall into that category.
Neal Katyal, who wrote the special counsel regulations while a Clinton Justice Department aide and later served as acting Solicitor General under Obama, said there’s no apparent reason for a special counsel to investigate the Clinton-related matters.
“I drafted the Special Counsel regs. They require a ‘conflict of interest for the Dept or other extraordinary circumstances’ I look fwd to learning what possible conflict of interest there is. AG Sessions boss Trump calling for a Spcl Counsel doesnt cut it,” Katyal wrote on Twitter.