President Donald Trump’s legal team backs the idea of appointing a second special counsel to investigate the FBI and Justice Department, a White House spokesman said Monday.
The president’s attorneys have already signed off on the notion of picking a special counsel to probe U.S. intelligence and law enforcement agencies’ actions during the 2016 presidential campaign, Axios reported Monday, citing White House spokesman Raj Shah.
The Justice Department would have to appoint the special prosecutor.
If a second special counsel takes shape, it would mark perhaps the most drastic move by the Trump administration to delve into accusations of wrongdoing at the FBI and Justice Department leveled by the president and conservative lawmakers. Trump has repeatedly tried to draw attention away from special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian efforts to influence the 2016 election and whether the Trump campaign coordinated with the Kremlin.
Shah also said that more documents, like the incendiary House GOP memo released Friday through an expedited disclosure process, will be handled in the same way. They will allow for a “legal review, national security review led by the White House Counsel’s Office, and then within five days, the president will make a decision about declassifying it.”
That process, which circumvents a lengthier review process involving input from intelligence agencies, was followed on the basis of a rule that had never been used before.
The memo, which alleges that political bias in the FBI’s sources and methods led to improper surveillance on a former Trump advisor, has fueled speculation among Democrats that Trump is gearing up to fire Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. Democrats, along with the FBI and Justice Department, have called the memo “reckless” and “misleading,” among many other criticisms.
But Shah also told reporters that Trump is not considering any moves at the Justice Department right now, appearing to swat away fears of the probe’s defenders. Rosenstein appointed Mueller to lead the Russia probe after Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from it.
On Monday, Trump congratulated the memo’s author and leading advocate, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes, R-Calif., for his work on the document.