Jeff Sessions Is Probably Not Going to Appoint a Second Special Prosecutor

Tom Williams/Congressional Quarterly/Newscom via ZUMA

Yesterday there was a bit of fuss on social media over the possibility that Attorney General Jeff Sessions would appoint a special prosecutor to investigate Uranium One and Hillary’s emails and the Clinton Foundation and all that. Today, this came up at a congressional hearing:

Sessions said the department would need a “factual basis” to appoint a second special counsel to investigate a host of GOP concerns — and he rejected the suggestion by Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) that such a basis already existed….Jordan said he appreciated Sessions was considering appointing such a person, but asked, “What’s it gonna take to get a special counsel?” Near the end of a testy exchange, Sessions said, “Looks like is not enough basis to appoint a special counsel.”

On Monday Sessions wrote a letter to Congress regarding the Clinton charges, but my take is not that he was laying the groundwork for appointing a special counsel. Just the opposite: he seemed to be laying the groundwork for declining to appoint a special counsel. He punted the whole issue to the career staff, which is almost certain to recommend against a special counsel since there’s no evidence of any wrongdoing. That will give Sessions the backup he needs to stand up to President Trump, who’s been pushing for the Justice Department to “investigate the Democrats.”

Sessions is an odd bird. Ideologically, he’s my polar opposite, so he’s going to do lots of things I don’t like. But he also seems to have a pretty intense streak of personal honor and respect for the law. That’s how he views himself, at any rate, and pushing him to violate that honor is likely to accomplish nothing except to make him even more stiff-necked. So I’ll go out on a limb and predict that he won’t appoint a special counsel to investigate all these empty allegations. We’ll see.

But don’t get too comfortable. I’m sure the House and Senate will spend plenty of time on this stuff. There’s an election coming up, after all.