Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Vista, said on Friday that a special prosecutor needs to lead an investigation into the alleged ties between President Donald Trump’s campaign and Russian leader Vladimir Putin’s regime.
Issa made the comments to talk show host Bill Maher on HBO. Maher asked about allegations of Russian hacking and interference in the 2016 U.S. election.
Issa initially said House and Senate committees would investigate, and then Maher asked about the idea of an independent counsel handling the matter instead of Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
“You cannot have somebody — a friend of mine, Jeff Sessions, who was on the campaign and who is an appointee,” Issa said. “You’re going to need to use the special prosecutor’s statute and office — not just to recuse, you can’t just give it to your deputy, that’s another political appointee — you do have to do that.”
Issa then went on to explain why he believes such an investigation is needed, criticizing Putin.
“There may or may not be fault,” Issa said. “But the American people are beginning to understand that Putin murders his enemies, sometimes right in front of the Kremlin, and then suddenly the cameras don’t work there. He’s murdered people and taken down using cyber warfare in Georgia and Ukraine. This is a bad guy who murders people who runs a gas station with an economy the size of Italy but is screwing up things all over the world that we’ve been doing ‘working with.’ Now we have to work with them. We don’t have to trust them, and we need to investigate their activities, and we need to do it because they are bad people.”
There is a lot wrong with this both in Issa’s thought processes and his conclusions.
Currently there is an FBI investigation underway and the Senate Intelligence Committee is ramping up for an investigation, too. So the call for a “special prosecutor” seems a little premature. Beyond that, the reasons that Issa lays out have nothing to do with needing a special prosecutor. We know Russia is bad. It doesn’t take a special prosecutor to figure that out. We know Iran is bad but we’re giving them nuclear technology and a couple of billion dollars in cash. The involvement of Russia in this is meaningless in terms of whether a special prosecutor is merited.
At some point, though, when investigatory work is complete, Sessions will have to decide what to do with that information and he’s sufficiently attuned to the politics of the matter to know whether he can proceed or whether he needs the cover of a special prosecutor. Regardless, a special prosecutor shouldn’t be appointed until we reach the stage of affairs where one is needed because once you launch one of these guys they are going to collect scalps whether justified or not.
Practically, this is a political move by Issa. He won a nail-biter of a re-election and goes on Bill Maher’s show and gets a very friendly interview. This is local politics. Period.