Four top Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee, including Chairman Chuck Grassley, on Thursday asked Attorney General Jeff Sessions to appoint a special counsel to investigate alleged FISA abuses by the FBI and Justice Department in the Russia.
Besides Grassley, who represents Iowa, the letter to Sessions and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein was also signed by Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn of Texas, and Sens. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Thom Tillis of North Carolina.
The Republicans argue that the Justice Department's inspector general, Michael Horowitz, lacked the authority to compel testimony or seek other information needed for a complete investigation.
Thirteen House Republicans made the same arguments in their demand last month for a special counsel regarding the alleged abuses of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act by the agencies.
Sessions announced Feb. 27 that Horowitz would investigate the FBI and Justice Department, prompting President Donald Trump to slam him for assigning it to the IG's office.
"We have the utmost confidence in the inspector general's integrity, fairness, and impartiality, and trust that he will complete these reviews in a thorough, unbiased, and timely fashion," the senators said in their letter.
"However, by statute, the inspector general does not have the tools that a prosecutor would to gather all the facts, such as the ability to obtain testimony from essential witnesses who are not current DOJ employees.
"Thus, we believe that a special counsel is needed to work with the Inspector General to independently gather the facts and make prosecutorial decisions, if any are merited," the senators said.
Republicans have alleged that the FBI and Justice abused the FISA law by obtaining a warrant to monitor former Trump campaign aide Carter Page was based on an unsubstantiated dossier containing negative information on the president.
The dossier was prepared by former British intelligence agent Christopher Steele — and GOP lawmakers contend that the judge signing off on the warrant was not told that Democrats had later paid for it.
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