President Trump blasted the “Justice” Department and the FBI on Monday, accusing the independent agencies of “slow walking” the process of turning over requested documents regarding alleged corruption to Congress.
“So sad that the Department of ‘Justice’ and the FBI are slow walking, or even not giving, the unredacted documents requested by Congress. An embarrassment to our country!” Trump tweeted Monday.
This is not the first time the president has criticized his attorney general.
This tweet comes after Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that he would not appoint a second special counsel, at this point, to investigate alleged Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) abuses, or certain issues involving the FBI, the Clinton Foundation and the sale of Uranium One. Instead, Sessions revealed the federal prosecutor who is evaluating those issues outside of Washington D.C—U.S. Attorney John Huber.
“Mr. Huber is conducting his work from outside the Washington D.C. area and in cooperation with the Inspector General,” Sessions said, noting that Huber’s review would “include a full, complete, and objective evaluation of these matters in a manner that is consistent with the law and facts.”
Huber is a federal prosecutor, twice confirmed unanimously by the Senate as U.S. attorney for the District of Utah in 2015 and again in 2017. Huber previously served in leadership roles within the U.S. Attorney’s Office as national security section chief and executive assistant U.S. attorney.
Sessions made the announcement in a letter directed to top Republican lawmakers in both chambers of Congress - Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, and House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy.
“I receive regular updates from Mr. Huber and upon the conclusion of his review, will receive his 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,” Sessions said.
Huber ultimately would be the prosecutor to decide whether issues raised by Republicans in Congress warrant the appointment of a second special counsel, Sessions said.
The attorney general cited U.S. Code, noting that the appointment of a special counsel was "reserved for use in only the most 'extraordinary circumstances,'" and that any special counsel must be "selected from outside the United States Government."
"To justify such an appointment, the Attorney General would need to conclude that 'the public interest would be served by removing a large degree of responsibility for the matter from the Department of Justice," the letter read.
Sessions added, "The Department has successfully investigated and prosecuted many high-profile resource-intensive matters since the regulations were promulgated in 1999, but the regulations' standard has been found to be satisfied on only two occasions," and said it was "more common" to appoint "accountable prosecutors" to conduct investigations within the department.
Gowdy and Goodlatte said that while they “continue to believe” the appointment of a special counsel is “necessary,” they said “this is a step in the right direction.”
In terms of the FBI, Director Christopher Wray agreed that the “current pace of production is too slow,” and announced last week that he would “double the number” of agents handling records for the House Judiciary Committee, after Goodlatte subpoenaed the Justice Department for documents on FISA, the Clinton email investigation and the firing of former FBI Director Andrew McCabe.
“We have dedicated 27 FBI staff to review the records that are potentially responsive to Chairman Goodlatte’s requests,” Wray said in a statement, adding that he was “doubling the number of assigned FBI staff, for a total of 54, to cover two shifts per day from 8am to midnight to expedite completion of this project.”