Two Republican chairmen in the House of Representatives are calling for a special prosecutor to look into alleged surveillance abuses within the Justice Department after one of their colleagues pushed to declassify a memo on the subject.
CNN reported Tuesday that House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) and House Oversight Chairman Trey Gowdy (R-SC) sent a letter to the attorney general’s office asking them to investigate alleged abuses at the DOJ and FBI.
The argument that the department abused their power when acquiring Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act warrants to spy on former Trump campaign aide Carter Page stems from a memo authored by the GOP-controlled House Intelligence Committee. The memo, pushed by committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-CA), claims the Obama-era Justice Department relied primarily on the salacious Fusion GPS “golden showers” dossier to acquire the warrants for Page in the secretive FISA court. Previous reporting, however, suggests that Page has likely been under FISA surveillance since 2014 for his ties to Russia.
“We think this is a very serious matter regarding conduct by the FBI and by some in the Department of Justice that that calls for the appointment of a special counsel who will have subpoena and prosecutorial powers,” Goodlatte told reporters after sending the letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. “We also believe that this matter extends beyond the Department of Justice and therefore calls for someone who can have greater jurisdictional authority than the inspector general.”
Gowdy’s track record on alleged “abuses” at the DOJ was tarnished in January when he promoted a conspiracy theory about the existence of a so-called “secret society” within the department after reading a single text message sent between GOP scapegoats Peter Strzok and Lisa Page, two employees at the Justice Department. The text, it turned out, was a reference to calendars featuring “beefcake” photos of Russian President Vladimir Putin that Strzok had purchased for his colleagues as a joke.
Soon after the letter was publicized, Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC) signaled his approval of the potential second special counsel, noting he and Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) have been calling for one for months.