Attorney General Jeff Sessions has once again balked at questions over the need for a second special counsel to investigate the Justice Department, telling reporters at a Friday press conference that while he's concerned about recent allegations of bias within the FBI, "sometimes things that might appear to be bad in the press have more innocent explanations, so fairness and justice should also be provided to our personnel."
Last week Sessions responded to mounting pressure to launch a second special counsel, stating "I've put a Senior Attorney, with the resources he may need, to review cases in our office and make a recommendation to me, if things aren't being pursued that need to be pursued, if cases may need more resources to complete in a proper manner, and to recommend to me if the standards for a special counsel are met."
In November. Sessions pushed back on the need for a special counsel to investigate a salacious anti-Trump dossier paid for in part by Hillary Clinton and the DNC, and whether or not the FBI used the largely unverified dossier to launch the Russia investigation. Sessions told Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) that it would take "a factual basis that meets the standard of a special counsel," adding "You can have your idea but sometimes we have to study what the facts are and to evaluate whether it meets the standards it requires. I would say, 'looks like' is not enough basis to appoint a special counsel."
A flood of GOP lawmakers along with President Trump's outside counsel Jay Sekulow have renewed calls for a separate special counsel investigation of the Department of Justice and the FBI amid revelations that top FBI officials conspired to tone down former FBI Director James Comey's statement exonerating Hillary Clinton - altering or removing key language which effectively "decriminalized" Clinton's beahvior. The officials implicated are former FBI Director James Comey, Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, Peter Strzok, Strzok's supervisor E.W. "Bill" Priestap, Jonathan Moffa, and DOJ Deputy General Counsel Trisha Anderson.
Also under recent scrutiny are a trove of text messages between FBI agent Peter Strzok to his mistress, FBI attorney Lisa Page showing extreme bias against then-candidate Trump, while both of them were actively engaged in the Clinton email investigation and the Trump-Russia investigation. GOP lawmakers claim the FBI launched its investigation into Russian collusion based on the 34-page dossier created by opposition research firm Fusion GPS - which hired the CIA wife of a senior DOJ official to assist in digging up damaging information on 5then-candidate Trump.
A particularly disturbing text message between Strzok and Page was leaked to the press last week referencing an "insurance policy" in case Trump were to be elected President. Strzok wrote to Page: "I want to believe the path you threw out to consideration in Andy's office -- that there's no way he gets elected -- but I'm afraid we can't take that risk." It's like an insurance policy in the unlikely event you die before you're 40...."
House and Senate Committees are also trying to get to the bottom of a report last Monday by Fox News which revealed that recently demoted DOJ official Bruce Ohr's wife, Nellie, worked for Fusion GPS - the firm behind the Trump-Russia dossier. It was also later uncovered by internet sleuths that Nellie Ohr represented the CIA's "Open Source Works" group at a 2010 working group on organized crime, which she participated in along with her husband Bruce and Glenn Simpson, co-founder of Fusion GPS.
Bruce and Nellie Ohr
Last Tuesday, FBI Deputy Director McCabe unexpectedly cancelled a scheduled testimony in front of the House Intelligence Committee - thought to be related to the Fox report on Bruce and Nellie Ohr. Text messages between Strzok and Page were released the same day.
So with Attorney General Jeff Sessions saying things may have "more innocent explanations" here are some specific questions for the AG to answer:
- Did Peter Strzok innocently tell his mistress that there was an "insurance policy" against a Trump win, which likely referenced the Russia investigation which GOP lawmakers think was based on an unverified dossier?
- Was Peter Strzok innocently texting Lisa Page "F Trump" while he was the lead investigator on the Clinton email case?
- Was Peter Strzok's edit of the phrase "Gross negligence" to "extremely careless" innocent? It very innocently changed the entire legal standing of the case from criminal conduct to a layman's opinion of carelessness.
18 U.S. Code ' 793 "Gathering, transmitting or losing defense information" specifically uses the phrase "gross negligence." Had Comey used the phrase, he would have essentially declared that Hillary had broken the law.
- Was Peter Strzok innocently calling Trump "a f*cking idiot" and a "loathsome human" before investigating him?
- Did FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe's "damage control team" innocently change their conclusion that Hillary Clinton's server was "possibly" hacked, rather than "reasonably likely" - language which significantly altered the seriousness of Clinton's mishandling of classified information?
- Were all references to the FBI working with other members of the intelligence community on Clinton's private server innocently scrubbed from Comey's exoneration statement - making it look like a much smaller investigation?
- Before he was demoted for doing so - did senior DOJ official Bruce Ohr innocently meet with MI6 spy Christopher Steele who assembled the salacious 'Trump-Russia' dossier, and then also innocently meet with Glenn Simpson, co-founder of opposition research firm Fusion GPS? Fusion commissioned Steele to create the dossier, which relied on senior Russian officials.
- Did Fusion GPS innocently hire Bruce Ohr's CIA wife, Nellie Ohr, to gather damaging information on President Trump? If there weren't such innocent explanations for everything, one might think Nellie Ohr could have possibly passed information from the DOJ to Fusion GPS and vice versa.
- Did Hillary Clinton and the DNC innocently pay Fusion GPS $1,024,408 through law firm Perkins Coie, which then paid Steele $168,000?
- In addition to the 'Trump-Russia' dossier, did Fusion GPS innocently arrange the Trump Tower "setup" meeting between Trump Jr. and a Russian Attorney? Or attempt to link Donald Trump to billionaire pedophile Jeffrey Epstein? Or try to push the debunked claim that a secret email server existed between Trump Tower and Moscow's Alfa bank - which Alfa bank executives are suing Fusion GPS over?
The list goes on and on, but hey: sometimes things that might appear to be bad in the press have more innocent explanations...