Options for truly independent Russia probe are limited - ABC FOX Montana Local News, Weather, Sports KTMF | KWYB

Options for truly independent Russia probe are limited

Posted: Updated:

By EILEEN SULLIVAN
Associated Press
    
WASHINGTON (AP) - Democrats' calls for an independent prosecutor to lead the investigation into Trump campaign contacts with Russia grew louder Wednesday in the aftermath of the FBI director's ouster, but the options for an independent probe remain limited, and the only current avenue for such an appointment is in the hands of the Justice Department.
    
The White House has said President Donald Trump's firing of FBI Director James Comey has nothing to do with the ongoing counterintelligence probe, but lawmakers from both parties are questioning the timing and some Democrats also are asking whether Trump's move constitutes interfering in an ongoing investigation.
    
Questions of political interference have dogged the investigation before. In March, Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from anything related to the Russia investigation. On Tuesday, both he and the official currently overseeing the probe, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, recommended that Trump fire Comey.
    
"If there was ever a time when circumstances warranted a special prosecutor, it is right now," Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said Wednesday.
    
There is little Congress can do immediately other than apply political pressure to try to force the Trump administration's Justice Department to name a special counsel. Other alternatives for an independent investigation require congressional approval and, while Democrats are threatening to introduce legislation, a shot at success appears challenging. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Wednesday a new probe "could only serve to impede the current work being done."
    
Even if a special counsel is appointed, it would be difficult to dispel a perception of impropriety. The person ultimately would answer to the Justice Department and any decisions can be overruled. Plus, in most cases, the special counsel works in secret, with no assurance that the probe's findings will be made public.
    
In the days before he was fired, Comey told lawmakers he had asked the Justice Department for more resources to pursue the bureau's investigation, three U.S. officials told The Associated Press. On Tuesday, the White House released a memo from Rosenstein in which he criticized Comey's handling of last year's investigation into Democrat Hillary Clinton's email practices.
    
Republican Sen. James Lankford said Congress and the nation deserve to know why Comey was dismissed.
    
"I understand the desire to be able to have a special prosecutor," said Lankford, of Oklahoma. "Problem is, as we all know, the special prosecutor is selected by the attorney general's office."
    
Democrats also have called for a 9/11-type independent commission and for a select congressional committee to investigate, due to concerns that Republican-led panels may not be motivated to aggressively probe the leader of their party and his campaign. Republicans contend existing bipartisan investigations underway in Congress are sufficient.
    
But it wasn't always this way.
    
Democrats have been drawing parallels between Comey's firing and President Richard Nixon's "Saturday Night Massacre" firing of the independent special prosecutor overseeing the Watergate investigation in 1973. That firing prompted congressional legislation in the late 1970s that authorized the appointment of independent prosecutors by a panel of three judges from the Washington, D.C. U.S. Court of Appeals. The special prosecutor established in that law had more independence than the Justice Department's current special counsel position. But Congress let the law expire in 1999.
    
The last high-profile special counsel to be named was in 2003 when the Bush Justice Department turned to Patrick Fitzgerald, then the top federal prosecutor in Chicago, to investigate who leaked the identity of Valerie Plame, a covert CIA officer. That appointment was made by Comey, who at the time was deputy attorney general. Comey took the extra step of giving Fitzgerald complete discretion to conduct the investigation, bolstering the special counsel's independence.
    
Schumer said Democrats insist a career civil servant at the Justice Department appoint a special counsel to ensure that the American people can have confidence in the criminal justice system. "It should not be a political appointee who makes such a decision," he said.
    
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi on Wednesday threatened to use a rarely successful parliamentary maneuver to force a vote on a bill that would create an independent panel to investigate possible contacts between the Trump campaign and Russian officials. The "fireworks at the Department of Justice demand that we remove the investigation from the Trump-appointed Justice Department leadership," Pelosi said.
    
Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal said the idea of a special, independent prosecutor is not new. And now is certainly an appropriate time for one.
    
"I feel strongly that the credibility and independence of this investigation require a special prosecutor," said Blumenthal, of Connecticut. He also said he's prepared to introduce legislation to restore the Watergate-era legislation.
    
If a special counsel is appointed, it would be up to Rosenstein to decide whether to give the prosecutor complete independence. During his Senate confirmation hearing, he was repeatedly pressed by Democrats about whether he would appoint one, and would not commit to doing so.
    
Many Republicans say there is no need for an independent prosecutor or special counsel.
    
North Carolina Sen. Richard Burr was critical of the president's decision to fire Comey, but said a special counsel was not necessary. As chairman of the Senate intelligence committee, Burr is leading one of the congressional investigations.
    
"My committee's got the jurisdictional responsibility to investigate this," Burr said. "We are going to do that."
    
The committee has sent requests for information and documents to several Trump associates and recently asked the Treasury Department for relevant financial documents. It invited Comey to testify as a private citizen next week.
    
___
    
Associated Press writers Mary Clare Jalonick, Julie Pace and Erica Werner contributed to this report.

(Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

  • StatewideMore>>

  • School Staff Are Being Trained for Active Shooter Situations

    School Staff Are Being Trained for Active Shooter Situations

    Friday, April 20 2018 7:12 PM EDT2018-04-20 23:12:45 GMT

    Schools in Missoula are taking the approach of being prepared for a crisis situation with active resistance training at two elementary schools. Friday the staff-only training took place at Rattlesnake Elementary School.

    Schools in Missoula are taking the approach of being prepared for a crisis situation with active resistance training at two elementary schools. Friday the staff-only training took place at Rattlesnake Elementary School.

  • Missoula students join rally against gun violence

    Missoula students join rally against gun violence

    Friday, April 20 2018 6:55 PM EDT2018-04-20 22:55:54 GMT

    MISSOULA - Though high schools were not in session today, many Missoula students still participated in rallying against gun violence. The event took place at the XXXXs downtown on Higgins Avenue. Organizers say they want community members to focus on direct actions they can take to end gun violence. "We have a lack of gun regulation, and I think it's becoming more blatant and apparent over the last couple of months, especially with the Parkland shooter and with students rising...

    MISSOULA - Though high schools were not in session today, many Missoula students still participated in rallying against gun violence. The event took place at the XXXXs downtown on Higgins Avenue. Organizers say they want community members to focus on direct actions they can take to end gun violence. "We have a lack of gun regulation, and I think it's becoming more blatant and apparent over the last couple of months, especially with the Parkland shooter and with students rising...

  • Take Flight: An aerial tour of two of Montana's Wilderness Study Areas

    Take Flight: An aerial tour of two of Montana's Wilderness Study Areas

    Friday, April 20 2018 5:35 PM EDT2018-04-20 21:35:55 GMT

    Wilderness Study Areas: hundreds of thousands of acres of some of Montana's wildest lands. But these public lands may look a lot different in the future. Aboard an EcoFlight, ABC FOX Montana's Angela Marshall flew over two Wilderness Study Areas to find out more about the storm brewing between the summits.

    Wilderness Study Areas: hundreds of thousands of acres of some of Montana's wildest lands. But these public lands may look a lot different in the future. Aboard an EcoFlight, ABC FOX Montana's Angela Marshall flew over two Wilderness Study Areas to find out more about the storm brewing between the summits.

  • Most Popular

  • Most Popular StoriesMost Popular StoriesMore>>

  • Firefighters participate in tactical training for mental and physical health

    Firefighters participate in tactical training for mental and physical health

    Friday, April 20 2018 11:33 AM EDT2018-04-20 15:33:16 GMT

    Firefighters from all parts of Montana are in the Garden City this week for tactical training at the Montana National Guard Armory.

    Firefighters from all parts of Montana are in the Garden City this week for tactical training at the Montana National Guard Armory.

  • Take Flight: An aerial tour of two of Montana's Wilderness Study Areas

    Take Flight: An aerial tour of two of Montana's Wilderness Study Areas

    Friday, April 20 2018 5:35 PM EDT2018-04-20 21:35:55 GMT

    Wilderness Study Areas: hundreds of thousands of acres of some of Montana's wildest lands. But these public lands may look a lot different in the future. Aboard an EcoFlight, ABC FOX Montana's Angela Marshall flew over two Wilderness Study Areas to find out more about the storm brewing between the summits.

    Wilderness Study Areas: hundreds of thousands of acres of some of Montana's wildest lands. But these public lands may look a lot different in the future. Aboard an EcoFlight, ABC FOX Montana's Angela Marshall flew over two Wilderness Study Areas to find out more about the storm brewing between the summits.

  • Family tries euthanizing cat after he walked 12 miles to return home

    Family tries euthanizing cat after he walked 12 miles to return home

    Thursday, April 19 2018 6:34 PM EDT2018-04-19 22:34:46 GMT
    SPCA of Wake CountySPCA of Wake County
    SPCA of Wake CountySPCA of Wake County

    RALEIGH, North Carolina - A North Carolina family gave their cat away and then tried to euthanize him after he walked 12 miles back to his home. According to the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals of Wake County, North Carolina, Toby the cat made the long trek back to his family after they tried to give him away. When he returned, they took him to a shelter to put him down. The shelter called the SPCA to ask if they would help 

    RALEIGH, North Carolina - A North Carolina family gave their cat away and then tried to euthanize him after he walked 12 miles back to his home. According to the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals of Wake County, North Carolina, Toby the cat made the long trek back to his family after they tried to give him away. When he returned, they took him to a shelter to put him down. The shelter called the SPCA to ask if they would help 

  • 4,000 and more of Montana's children need your help

    4,000 and more of Montana's children need your help

    Thursday, April 19 2018 7:28 PM EDT2018-04-19 23:28:04 GMT
    Friday, April 20 2018 4:31 PM EDT2018-04-20 20:31:16 GMT

    There is a desperate call for your help by some of youngest voices in Montana. A staggering numbers of children without permanent homes. 4,000, that is the number of children in Montana who need foster care according to Victoria Roberts with Youth Dynamics. 

    There is a desperate call for your help by some of youngest voices in Montana. A staggering numbers of children without permanent homes. 4,000, that is the number of children in Montana who need foster care according to Victoria Roberts with Youth Dynamics. 

  • WANTED: Suspects in armed home invasion

    WANTED: Suspects in armed home invasion

    Friday, April 20 2018 11:30 AM EDT2018-04-20 15:30:08 GMT
    Friday, April 20 2018 11:30 AM EDT2018-04-20 15:30:08 GMT

    The Federal Bureau of Investigation is asking for the public's help in their search for 27-year-old Melissa Shurtliff and 34-year-old Jamie Milsten. 

    The Federal Bureau of Investigation is asking for the public's help in their search for 27-year-old Melissa Shurtliff and 34-year-old Jamie Milsten. 

  • Herberger's liquidation sales to begin Friday

    Herberger's liquidation sales to begin Friday

    Thursday, April 19 2018 11:40 PM EDT2018-04-20 03:40:48 GMT
    Thursday, April 19 2018 11:40 PM EDT2018-04-20 03:40:48 GMT

    Herberger's announced liquidation sales will start Friday, April 20.

    Herberger's announced liquidation sales will start Friday, April 20.

  • Man charged with rape of 8-year-old wants case dismissed

    Man charged with rape of 8-year-old wants case dismissed

    Friday, April 20 2018 1:10 PM EDT2018-04-20 17:10:39 GMT

    A man charged with raping an 8-year-old girl after DNA evidence linked him to the 1987 case wants the charge dismissed, arguing the statute of limitations had run out.

    A man charged with raping an 8-year-old girl after DNA evidence linked him to the 1987 case wants the charge dismissed, arguing the statute of limitations had run out.

  • Our Apologies

    The page you requested is currently unavailable. Pages on this site are constantly being revised, updated, and occasionally removed. You may have followed an outdated link or have outdated pages in your

    You have reached a page which is currently unavailable. We apologize for any inconvenience. Please use your browser's BACK button to return to the previous page

Powered by Frankly

Features

  • More Features
  • Powered by WorldNow
    All content © Copyright 2000 - 2018 Cowles Montana Media. All Rights Reserved. For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy, and Terms of Service, and Ad Choices.