Republicans renew push for second special counsel

A group of House Republicans who have been among the most vocal critics of Robert Mueller renewed their calls for a second special counsel to investigate the Justice Department and FBI’s handling of the investigation into President Donald Trump’s campaign and Russia.

Republican Rep. Lee Zeldin of New York introduced a 12-page resolution Tuesday that alleges misconduct at the Justice Department and the FBI over both the Hillary Clinton email investigation and the Russia investigation, calling for the appointment of a second special counsel to investigate.

Zeldin and nearly a dozen of his conservative House colleagues — including Reps. Mark Meadows of North Carolina, Jim Jordan of Ohio, and Ron Desantis and Matt Gaetz of Florida — seized on the new reports of a confidential intelligence source used by the FBI who spoke with Trump campaign advisers in 2016 in their latest push for a second special counsel.

“While many in the media and the American public have been trying to bring down the President without evidence that President Trump colluded with Russia to win the election, there is a ton of actual evidence of real misconduct that those same people have been attempting to completely sweep under the rug,” Zeldin said at a news conference on the resolution.

The Republicans backing the new resolution have been calling for a second special counsel for months on a range of topics, from alleged abuses of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act to an Obama administration uranium deal to the allegation that the FBI gave “special treatment” to Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton when it did not charge the former secretary of state over her handling of classified materials on a private email server.

Thus far, Attorney General Jeff Sessions has instructed the Justice Department inspector general as well as US Attorney John Huber to investigate the claims of wrongdoing, but he has resisted appointing a second special counsel.

After Trump said he was demanding an investigation into allegations that the FBI spied on his campaign, the Justice Department said it was expanding its internal probe.

But that has not satisfied some of Trump’s biggest backers in Congress, who have ramped up the calls for a second special counsel amid a pressure campaign from House Republicans for the Justice Department to provide a range of documents to Congress, including those related to the confidential source.

Gaetz on Tuesday called on House Speaker Paul Ryan, a Wisconsin Republican, to put the resolution to appoint another special counsel on the House floor for a vote.

“We need Speaker Ryan to put this resolution on the floor so that the full House of Representatives can answer the question about the legitimacy and the need for a second special counsel to investigate what I perceive to be serious crimes and improprieties of the FBI and the Department of Justice,” Gaetz said.

Meadows, who is head of the conservative House Freedom Caucus and frequently speaks with Trump, said he had not discussed a second special counsel with the President.