At a House Judiciary hearing Tuesday, Sessions stressed the "factual basis" that must be met to warrant a special counsel, as Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) grilled him on what Jordan said "looks like" the Federal Bureau of Investigation working with Democrats to push the Trump-Russia dossier. Democrats have criticized this as a ploy to deflect attention from the special counsel probing Trump campaign interactions with the Kremlin and potential effects on the 2016 presidential election.
But even though a special counsel hasn't been appointed, questions about the independence of the hypothetical investigation are already swirling. Is it a GOP smokescreen?
We know the Clinton campaign, the Democratic National Committee, paid for, through the law firm, paid for the dossier [that alleges Trump-Russia ties].
President Trump has repeatedly called on the Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigation in recent weeks to investigate "crooked Hillary".
In his testimony, Sessions did say that he believed his recusal would not bar him from appointing a special counsel to investigate possible wrongdoing involving Uranium One, a Canadian mining company with US assets that was purchased by Russia's nuclear energy agency.
As The Times reported, "Donors related to Uranium One and another company it acquired contributed millions of dollars to the Clinton Foundation, and Bill Clinton received $500,000 from a Russian bank for a speech".
Some conservatives say a special counsel appointment could have consequences far beyond Clinton.
"There's no way the American people can trust Robert Mueller to investigate anything Russia-related", Hannity has said. "And if you're now just considering it, what is it going to take to get a special counsel?"
Now, a Justice Department letter dated November 13 says Sessions directed federal prosecutors to "evaluate certain issues" from the list of concerns and figure out if they warrant additional resources or a special counsel.
"You should never float the idea on your side, because when you float the idea, you are at least suggesting there's a possibility you may not be capable of doing the job yourself for ethical reasons", he explained.
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