Repeatedly, we have seen members of the House Intelligence Committee and the House Oversight Committee call for an additional, second special counsel to be appointed to investigate crimes involving bias and FISA abuse from within the Obama administration’s Department of Justice.
The second request came from House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte and House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy calling for the for the appointment of a Special Counsel to investigate potential bias and potential conflicts of interest and decisions made or not made by the Department of Justice in 2016 and 2017.
In a letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, Goodlatte and Gowdy request the appointment of a Special Counsel to review evidence of bias by any employee or agent of the DOJ, FBI, or other agencies; the decisions to charge or not charge and whether those decisions were made consistent with the applicable facts, the applicable law, and traditional investigative and prosecutorial policies and procedures; and whether the FISA process employed in the fall of 2016 and continuing into 2017 was lawful and pursuant to all relevant policies and procedures.
🚨Breaking: Chairmen @TGowdySC and @RepGoodlatte call for special counsel to investigate crimes involving bias and FISA abuse at DOJ.https://t.co/MYNFscE557
Read the Letter 📰⬇️ pic.twitter.com/BF7BCvOi0R
— Oversight Committee (@GOPoversight) March 6, 2018
A previous request for a second special counsel had come forth in a July 27, 2017 letter, where GOP leaders had called on Sessions to “appoint a second special counsel to investigate a plethora of matters connected to the 2016 election and its aftermath.” These included actions by Hillary Clinton, James Comey, Loretta Lynch and others, email controversies, mishandling of classified information, Fusion GPS and the Steele Dossier, FISA warrants, wire taps, leaks, grand juries, the Clinton Foundation and the Uranium One deal.
Amid much muttering, censor, and even anger Attorney General Jeff Sessions says he is not appointing — for now — a second special counsel to investigate allegations of wrongdoing by the FBI and Justice Department, telling Republican lawmakers that he has already asked a veteran prosecutor to look into the matter. 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.
However, widespread head-scratching has followed Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ recent disclosure that U.S. Attorney John W. Huber is leading an investigation into 2016 election controversies.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions had previously noted the appointment of an Outside Prosecutorial Team.
He said so himself on March 7, 2018:
“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.”
The significance of this is one of timing, as according to a letter written from Assistant Attorney General Stephen Boyd letter to Rep. Robert W. Goodlatte dated November 13, 2017, it provides evidence that this Prosecutorial Team has been in place since at least mid-November 2017.
“The Attorney General has directed senior federal prosecutors to evaluate certain issues raised in your letters. These senior prosecutors will report directly to the Attorney General and the Deputy Attorney General.”
The importance of this cannot be over-emphasized. Although it meant little at the time – a new appointment was made on November 14, 2017, by the Attorney General’s Advisory Committee –
Utah U.S. Attorney John W. Huber appointed vice chair of Attorney General’s Advisory Committee. The AGAC provides counsel to the Attorney General on issues impacting U.S. Attorneys Offices nationwide. https://t.co/WVdbGoZv2F
— US Attorney Utah (@DUTnews) November 14, 2017
Sessions also followed up with a March 29 letter to Republican committee chairmen, reaffirming that Huber, the U. S. Attorney for Utah, had been appointed to “evaluate certain issues” raised by the GOP. He did not say which issues, but there are plenty. Sessions made note that Huber is “an experienced federal prosecutor,” 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.”
Translation: Mr. Huber is investigating the investigations, not the underlying allegations.
Just who is John W. Huber? Huber was appointed Assistant U.S. Attorney in Utah in 2002. He was named U.S. Attorney in 2015 by Barack Obama and has an important backer in Utah’s senior senator, Orrin Hatch.
It is important to note after President Trump requested the resignations of all sitting U.S. Attorneys, Sessions kept Mr. Huber alive with an interim appointment under the Federal Vacancies Act, until the president could be persuaded to re-nominate him. He was confirmed a second time for the post in August.
Zero Hedge reports this on Huber’s background, stating –
“It’s a truism of law enforcement that if you want to pursue high-level political corruption, get yourself a junkyard dog – a strong prosecutor, good in a fight. Hickman Ewing Jr. – the former U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Tennessee and later the Whitewater Deputy Independent Counsel – comes to mind. Mr. Ewing had a long track record of pursuing political corruption before Kenneth Starr tapped him for the Whitewater probe. The Office of U.S. Attorney in Utah, by contrast, has been toothless. Mr. Huber has not been implicated in any wrongdoing, but for the last three years, it has been his shop and his responsibility. Before that, it was his training ground.
In November, for example, a federal judge dismissed the last charges against Terry Diehl, a powerful Utah developer and former Utah Transit Authority board member. The government was widely seen as bungling the case. The Salt Lake Tribune noted that Diehl, “a well-known developer with friends in high places — including [Utah] House Speaker Greg Hughes, R-Draper — once stood charged with 14 felony counts that stemmed from allegations that he lied about or hid assets as part of a 2012 bankruptcy. Prosecutors had whittled the case down three times since early October, dropping counts of concealment and tax evasion.” Prosecutors acknowledged “missteps” to the newspaper, including getting wrong the amount of taxes Diehl allegedly did not pay.
Mr. Huber’s office also lost a 2017 case against real-estate mogul Rick Koerber, charged with running a multi-million-dollar Ponzi scheme. The case – the government’s second try – ended in a mistrial. A judge threw out an earlier case. The government will try again in September.
But the Rosetta Stone for understanding Utah’s corruption problems may be the sprawling saga of John Swallow and Mark Shurtleff, two former Utah attorneys general charged with a multitude of corruption charges. The case gripped the state for years. Mr. Huber’s office recused itself in 2013 from the investigations, transferring the case to Colorado. Later, the Justice Department declined to charge either man and Utah state prosecutors took over. Swallow was acquitted on all counts last year and the charges against Shurtleff were dropped in 2016 by Davis County Attorney Troy Rawlings, who bitterly complained about FBI and Justice Department conduct in the case.
That’s how the game is played in Utah, locals say. Power brokers have the state wired. Mr. Huber seems like a decent man, but his tenure at the top of Utah law enforcement has been short and undistinguished. Why appoint him to such a sensitive position in Washington?
One explanation is that Mr. Sessions knows precisely who Mr. Huber is and what he wants from him. Mr. Sessions went to bat for Mr. Huber in his re-appointment as U.S. Attorney and named him vice-chair of the prestigious Attorney General’s Advisory Committee. Mr. Huber, a political survivor, knows precisely who Mr. Sessions is and what the attorney general wants from him.
Another more intriguing explanation is that Mr. Sessions needs someone who knows Utah. One part of Mr. Huber’s mandate, as outlined in the GOP letter, is the “purchase of Uranium One by the company Rosatom, whether the approval of the sale was connected to any donations to the Clinton Foundation, and what role Secretary Clinton played in the approval of the sale.”
Uranium One’s assets included significant holdings in Utah and nearby states.
Prosecutors – and the media, so transfixed by the Mueller probe that they decline to look elsewhere – should follow the Uranium One money in Utah and the rest of the West. And if Mr. Huber does recommend additional investigations or a second special counsel, Mr. Sessions should get himself a junkyard dog.”