Sessions says 'I do not think we need to willy-nilly appoint special counsels'

Sessions: DOJ policy not to comment on recusals
Sessions: DOJ policy not to comment on recusals


    Sessions: DOJ policy not to comment on recusals


Sessions: DOJ policy not to comment on recusals 02:25

(CNN)Attorney General Jeff Sessions told a House panel Thursday that "this thing needs to conclude," potentially in reference to the special counsel's Russia probe that he has recused himself from.

The answer, before the House Appropriations Committee, came following a question from Republican Rep. Evan Jenkins of West Virginia about the need to investigate allegations concerning Hillary Clinton, the FBI's handling of the Clinton email server investigation, and abuse of surveillance authorities.
Jenkins said a "double standard" exists between the department's handling of those issues, and its appointment of a special counsel to oversee the Russia investigation -- so it's not immediately clear what Sessions was speaking to.
"Look, I think the American people are concerned and the President is concerned. He's dealing with France and North Korea and Syria and taxes and regulations and border and crime every day, and I wish, this thing needs to conclude," Sessions said.
    Sessions continued to underscore that the Justice Department has provided unprecedented access to the Hill regarding the Clinton and Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act questions and stressed that "we have an entirely new top leadership at the FBI."
    But he added, "I do not think we need to willy-nilly appoint special counsels, and as we can see, it can really take on a life of its own."
    "If there's wrongdoing uncovered, we'll act on that. But we have got to be careful. We don't smear everybody if somebody made some errors, and some of the errors could be disciplinary matters rather than prosecutorial matters," Sessions said.
    Asked about the comment, Justice Department spokeswoman Sarah Isgur Flores said, "I'd imagine he was saying that it's in the public interest to have the special counsel's investigation concluded as soon as possible."
    Sessions also said the Justice Department inspector general's report on the FBI's handling of the Clinton email investigation should be ready soon.
    "The inspector general will have a report before long, a few weeks maybe, and we will do our duty at the Department of Justice to ensure that justice is done," he said.
    Sessions has repeatedly faced pressure from Republicans on Capitol Hill and the President over the Justice Department's handling of the allegations around Clinton and alleged abuse of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.
    In March, Sessions revealed that he had appointed John Huber, the US attorney in Utah, to oversee an investigation into the issues. Huber wields significant power as a federal prosecutor -- with the ability to bring charges and convene a grand jury -- and the move to bring him in was met with encouragement by Republican leaders.
    Sessions faced questioning from the left Thursday over a different decision: Whether or not he would recuse himself from the Justice Department investigation into the President's personal attorney, Michael Cohen.
    Asked by Democratic Rep. Nita Lowey of New York why he had decided to not step back from the Cohen probe given its ties to the special counsel's Russia investigation, which Sessions is recused from, Sessions demurred.
    "Presumably you read that in the media somewhere. Media, it's often inaccurate, and much of what I see in the print is inaccurate," Sessions said. "Let me just say this quite clearly to you: I will honor the commitment I made to recuse myself from matters that I should recuse myself from, and I intend to do that faithfully. I have made that commitment and I have done so. I have not violated any commitment in that regard."