WASHINGTON, DC – Professor Jonathan Turley, a top national legal expert on government investigations, commented on Thursday about Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ decision to bring in U.S. Attorney John Huber. Turley called it “brilliant”to combine all the powers of the U.S. Department of Justice’s inspector general with a prosecutor who can bring charges, seek indictments, and get results for President Trump far more quickly than a second special counsel.
Turley is a law professor at George Washington University, who attained national fame during the 1998 impeachment of President Bill Clinton as a top legal authority on special counsels and congressional investigations of government wrongdoing, including criminal wrongdoing. His reputation has only grown during the intervening 20 years, as he has weighed in on scandals and investigations of public officials from both political parties.
Sessions sent a letter to House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), House Oversight Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy (R-SC), and Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA), informing them that Huber is conducting a full-fledged criminal investigation into all the matters Republicans are calling for a special counsel to investigate. Huber has been investigating these possible crimes for five months, since November 13, 2017.
During an interview on Lou Dobbs’s Fox Business Network show, Turley explained to guest host Stuart Varney that the media are wrongly reporting that Sessions will not appoint a second special counsel. “He did not foreclose the possibility of a special counsel,” he insisted.
Instead, Turley explained that Sessions has ordered Huber to “team up with the inspector general (IG) within the Justice Department to investigate these matters.”
Sessions informed Congress in his letter that all the matters recommended for investigation by Goodlatte, Gowdy, and Grassley are “fully within the scope of [Huber’s] existing mandate.” He also informed the chairmen that Inspector General Michael Horowitz, who is working with Huber, has a staff of 470 investigators, giving Huber access to enormous investigative firepower that far exceeds the staff of any special counsel.
Widget not in any sidebars
That point is critical because as Sessions’ March 29 letter explains, the inspector general’s jurisdiction to conduct civil and criminal investigations includes “actions taken by former employees after they have left government service.” Then Huber can act on any of those matters.
As a U.S. attorney, Huber has full authority to empanel a grand jury and to file criminal charges. A grand jury can be empaneled anywhere, which means that it could be a group of citizens from deep-red Utah – in the heart of Trump country – instead of the D.C. Swamp that decides whether to hand down indictments for felony prosecution.
“The Inspector General’s jurisdiction extends not only to allegations of legal violations, but also to allegations that Department employees violated established practices as well,” Sessions added in his letter, which means that the IG’s report can hold people accountable even for actions that do not violate a specific statute.
“I think [Sessions] did the right thing here,” said Turley. “I think the president should listen to General Sessions on this one.”
Sessions “can always appoint a special counsel,” Turley explained, but that should not even be necessary because Huber “has the ability to prosecute cases.”
“Do these prosecutors have the same power to investigate and get to the bottom of things that a special counsel would have?” Varney asked.
“Actually, yes,” Turley answered. “I think people are missing what could be a brilliant move here by Sessions. What he did is he essentially combined the powers of the inspector general with the powers of a line prosecutor.”
“This prosecutor does have not just the experience and training to look for a criminal case; he has the ability to move a case of that kind” in court, Turley emphasized.
Not only that, but if Sessions believes crimes were committed, but Huber for some reason does not bring charges, “Sessions has reserved the right to go ahead and appoint a special counsel,” said Turley.
“That’s a powerful combination,” he observed.
When Varney asked if Huber and Horowitz’s status as “Obama holdovers” creates a possible problem for Sessions and President Trump, Turley said no, observing that each man has a great reputation as a “dogged investigator.”
Breitbart News has separately confirmed that Utah Sens. Orrin Hatch and Mike Lee, both of whom are Republicans who support aggressive investigations of these scandals, enthusiastically supported Huber to be reappointed by President Trump as his U.S. attorney in Utah. The Senate confirmed Huber in 2017 for a second term.
Huber is a Utah lawyer, not a D.C lawyer. “That distance between him and Washington is very important,” Turley explained, because Huber is not part of the Deep State, that is, not cozy buddies with the cocktail party scene that is suspected of perpetrating all of these actions against President Trump and his administration.
Turley said President Trump should be very happy that Sessions chose this route of appointing Huber, who has the power to seek indictments and prosecute cases, and teamed him up with Horowitz, who has 470 investigators at his disposal, if the president wants to see swift and decisive action.
“If a special counsel were appointed, there would be a great deal of delay,” Turley stated, versus the team of Huber and Horowitz, who are already five months into this investigation.