Rep. Bob Goodlatte Renews Call for Second Special Counsel
House Judiciary Committee chairman says new outside investigator would have authority Department of Justice inspector general lacks
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) reiterated Thursday his call for the appointment of a second special counsel to investigate apparent abuses in the FBI and Department of Justice during the Trump-Russia collusion probe.
Goodlatte (pictured above) and a number of other House Republicans have called for a special investigator. Goodlatte, who is retiring at the end of the year, said on “The Laura Ingraham Show” Thursday morning that leaving the task to the DOJ’s Office of Inspector General (IG) is insufficient.
Goodlatte said he has great respect for IG Michael Horowitz.
“But the scope of what he can look at is not broad enough because he cannot call witnesses who are outside of the Department of Justice,” he said.
A partial list of those potential witnesses includes former FBI Director James Comey, former FBI chief of staff James Rybicki and former Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, who soon will retire.
“We need to have a special counsel with prosecutorial powers to able to look into this matter,” said Goodlatte. “And it extends beyond the Department of Justice, which is also the purview of Mr. Horowitz. There are allegations about activities that took place at the State Department.”
Republicans have been irked at revelations that 2016 Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s campaign organization and the Democratic National Committee, which she then controlled, paid for opposition research used by the FBI to justify a warrant application to conduct surveillance of a low-level volunteer on President Donald Trump’s campaign.
Lawyers for the Justice Department did not fully disclose the source of the opposition research when they sought the warrant from a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) court.
The IG certainly can conduct a review as well, Goodlatte said.
On worries that special counsels tend to run amok, delving into matters far outside their original mandate, Goodlatte noted it is the job of Attorney General Jeff Sessions to maintain a tight leash.
“The attorney general has control over that,” he said. “He sets the terms in the appointment. If the special counsel comes back and says, ‘Well, I want to also look at this,’ you have to get approval from within the Justice Department.”
Goodlatte added that a special counsel would avoid obvious conflicts of interest associated with an internal investigation.
“A special counsel can dig deeper and has more authority to call witnesses.”
“You also have the advantage of a situation where you’re not having people in the department that has this cloud over it conducting the investigation,” he said. “You have the advantage that you don’t have a leaky sieve like you have when you have the kind of partisan back-and-forth we’ve had over this issue in the Congress.”
Goodlatte sidestepped the question of whether he has confidence in Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who has come under fire from conservatives for appointing Robert Mueller as special counsel to oversee the Russia probe.
Goodlatte said it would not be appropriate for him to comment because Rosenstein’s conduct is part of what a second independent counsel would investigate.
Rosenstein gave authorization to seek renewal of the FISA warrants. Goodlatte said the Judiciary Committee would continue to exercise its oversight responsibilities, but he added there is no adequate substitute for a special counsel.
“We think that a special counsel can dig deeper and has more authority to call witnesses, grant immunity where necessary, and do other things looking at this,” he said.