(National Sentinel) Ultimate Authority: Attorney General Jeff Sessions has pushed back against calls for him to name a second special counsel to investigate alleged malfeasance by certain FBI and Justice Department officials during the 2016 election cycle.
But in naming U.S. attorney John Huber of Utah to lead the probe, he has essentially done so.
As reported by The Washington Times, Huber has all the authority of a special prosecutor: He can convene a grand jury, issue subpoenas, collect evidence and order witnesses to testify, all the usual authority granted both to special counsels and U.S. prosecutors.
Huber may need all of his authority “as he delves into whether the FBI abused its powers when it sought permission and then carried out wiretapping of a Trump campaign figure, or whether it trod too lightly in pursuing questions about Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton” regarding her mishandling of classified email, the Times reported.
Sessions has said that the facts surrounding the FBI’s actions do not yet rise to the level of needing a special counsel, but appointing Huber is as close as it gets.
“He will have the full authority of a federal prosecutor,” Richard Painter, former chief ethics attorney for President George W. Bush, told the Times.
“If he looks at this and finds someone in the DOJ lied to a government official, he would be able to convene a grand jury, compel testimony and even prosecute them.”
Others believe the appointment of Huber was a good move by Sessions, politically. He was first nominated by President Obama and then kept in place by President Donald J. Trump.
Also, by refusing to appoint a second special counsel, Sessions avoids accusations from Democrats that he is attempting to undermine special counsel Robert Mueller, the Times noted.
Legal experts also noted that appointing Huber was a good idea because he is less liable to engage in excesses.
“When you have a special counsel, you always have to wonder if there is overzealousness in their prosecution because they only have one case,” Paul G. Cassell, a former federal judge who has known Huber since law school, told the Times.
“Huber is going to be less inclined to move forward with prosecution unless it’s warranted because if he moves one case forward, others will be left behind.”
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