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>>

  • Trump Jr. rallies Republicans to defeat Montana Sen. Tester

    Trump Jr. rallies Republicans to defeat Montana Sen. Tester

    Saturday, June 23 2018 9:12 AM EDT2018-06-23 13:12:04 GMT
    Saturday, June 23 2018 9:45 AM EDT2018-06-23 13:45:01 GMT

    BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — Donald Trump Jr. urged Montana Republicans to rally against U.S. Sen. Jon Tester in the fall election and said Friday that the two-term Democrat had fallen out of step with the state's voters on issues ranging from immigration to gun control.

    BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — Donald Trump Jr. urged Montana Republicans to rally against U.S. Sen. Jon Tester in the fall election and said Friday that the two-term Democrat had fallen out of step with the state's voters on issues ranging from immigration to gun control.

  • Missoula dog swept away by floodwaters returns to shore safely

    Missoula dog swept away by floodwaters returns to shore safely

    Friday, June 22 2018 6:28 PM EDT2018-06-22 22:28:54 GMT

    One dog in Western Montana was swept away by the flooding in the Missoula area, but managed to get himself to safety.  Missoula resident Genevieve King posted on Facebook that her red and white brindle pit bull got swept away by floodwaters near Tower Street. The dog eventually swam to shore all the way at the Kelly Island fishing access nearly 2 miles away.  King's post said her dog was found soaking wet and shivering, but the pitbull did not seem to be injured....

    One dog in Western Montana was swept away by the flooding in the Missoula area, but managed to get himself to safety.  Missoula resident Genevieve King posted on Facebook that her red and white brindle pit bull got swept away by floodwaters near Tower Street. The dog eventually swam to shore all the way at the Kelly Island fishing access nearly 2 miles away.  King's post said her dog was found soaking wet and shivering, but the pitbull did not seem to be injured....

  • Frenchtown's King Ranch Golf Course opens after record flooding

    Frenchtown's King Ranch Golf Course opens after record flooding

    Friday, June 22 2018 4:33 PM EDT2018-06-22 20:33:08 GMT

    While Montana's golf season is already short in comparison to warmer climates, the recent flooding in Western Montana is making it even shorter.  Frenchtown's King Ranch Golf Course just opened 9 holes of its course after being closed all spring due to record flooding. Tim Bakker, the head golf pro at King Ranch, said employees have been out on the greens mowing, raking, and clipping the grass every day.  "Our men's league has been able to come out...

    While Montana's golf season is already short in comparison to warmer climates, the recent flooding in Western Montana is making it even shorter.  Frenchtown's King Ranch Golf Course just opened 9 holes of its course after being closed all spring due to record flooding. Tim Bakker, the head golf pro at King Ranch, said employees have been out on the greens mowing, raking, and clipping the grass every day.  "Our men's league has been able to come out...

  • Most Popular

  • Most Popular StoriesMost Popular StoriesMore>>

  • Two injured in Montana after swerving to avoid a kangaroo or wallaby

    Two injured in Montana after swerving to avoid a kangaroo or wallaby

    Thursday, June 21 2018 7:02 PM EDT2018-06-21 23:02:48 GMT
    kangaroo (Wikimedia Commons)kangaroo (Wikimedia Commons)

    UPDATE: Sources now indicate that the animal may actually have been an escaped wallaby from a petting zoo on the Fort Belknap Reservation.

    UPDATE: Sources now indicate that the animal may actually have been an escaped wallaby from a petting zoo on the Fort Belknap Reservation.

  • Former Stevensville school resource officer charged with molestation

    Former Stevensville school resource officer charged with molestation

    Thursday, June 21 2018 6:21 PM EDT2018-06-21 22:21:17 GMT

    STEVENSVILLE - A former school resource officer is charged with molesting a young girl on multiple separate incidents. Court documents filed June 18 say Samuel Steven Fawcett molested a young girl when she was 3 and 4 years old. The girl is now 7 years old, and lives and attends school in Missoula. News outlets reported earlier this year that Fawcett was placed on administrative leave in April, although the reason was not disclosed at the time. Fawcett resigned from the Stevensville...

    STEVENSVILLE - A former school resource officer is charged with molesting a young girl on multiple separate incidents. Court documents filed June 18 say Samuel Steven Fawcett molested a young girl when she was 3 and 4 years old. The girl is now 7 years old, and lives and attends school in Missoula. News outlets reported earlier this year that Fawcett was placed on administrative leave in April, although the reason was not disclosed at the time. Fawcett resigned from the Stevensville...

  • 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

  • PHOTOS: Top 10 'Haunted Houses' for sale

    PHOTOS: Top 10 'Haunted Houses' for sale

    Tuesday, October 20 2015 5:02 PM EDT2015-10-20 21:02:19 GMT
    Tuesday, October 20 2015 7:12 PM EDT2015-10-20 23:12:42 GMT
    KHQ.COM - In my experience, most old houses come with their own distinctive creaks and moans. The house I grew up in was built in the 1920's and although looking back I don't think it was haunted, when you're a little kid, those unexplained noises can certain keep you up at night.
    KHQ.COM - In my experience, most old houses come with their own distinctive creaks and moans. The house I grew up in was built in the 1920's and although looking back I don't think it was haunted, when you're a little kid, those unexplained noises can definitely keep you up at night. With Halloween approaching, now is a perfect time to talk about haunted houses.
  • Fourth suspect in WSP trooper involved shooting arrested

    Fourth suspect in WSP trooper involved shooting arrested

    Tuesday, October 24 2017 7:48 AM EDT2017-10-24 11:48:45 GMT
    Tuesday, October 31 2017 9:12 PM EDT2017-11-01 01:12:25 GMT
    Courtesy: Washington State PatrolCourtesy: Washington State Patrol

    We have new information about the Washington State Patrol shooting from last week.

    We have new information about the Washington State Patrol shooting from last week.

  • Officials say surprised grizzly attacked scientist in Cabinet Mountains

    Officials say surprised grizzly attacked scientist in Cabinet Mountains

    Thursday, June 21 2018 4:02 PM EDT2018-06-21 20:02:16 GMT
    HELENA, Mont. - Montana wildlife officials are releasing new details about last month's bear attack against a government researcher.    Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks officials said Amber Kornak surprised a grizzly after walking within 12 feet (4 meters) of the bear in the Cabinet Mountains on May 17.    The FWP statement says neither likely saw or heard the other prior to the encounter. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service seasonal field assistant received serious...
    HELENA, Mont. - Montana wildlife officials are releasing new details about last month's bear attack against a government researcher.    Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks officials said Amber Kornak surprised a grizzly after walking within 12 feet (4 meters) of the bear in the Cabinet Mountains on May 17.    The FWP statement says neither likely saw or heard the other prior to the encounter. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service seasonal field assistant received serious...
  • Bus contractor charged with child endangerment over meth

    Bus contractor charged with child endangerment over meth

    Saturday, June 23 2018 1:27 PM EDT2018-06-23 17:27:57 GMT

    The owner of a company that has the bus contract for a northwestern Montana school district faces charges for allegedly possessing and selling methamphetamine and smoking it on the school buses and in the bus barn.

    The owner of a company that has the bus contract for a northwestern Montana school district faces charges for allegedly possessing and selling methamphetamine and smoking it on the school buses and in the bus barn.

  • WATCH: Mom Discovers Breastfeeding Video Was Turned Into Porn

    WATCH: Mom Discovers Breastfeeding Video Was Turned Into Porn

    KHQ.COM - Maryann Sahoury's goal was to teach others about breastfeeding. Instead, she learned a few lessons herself: To read things before you sign them. And that people can be creeps.
    KHQ.COM - Maryann Sahoury's goal was to teach others about breastfeeding. Instead, she learned a few lessons herself: To read things before you sign them. And that people can be creeps.
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.