SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (CNN) – Attorney General Jeff Sessions named John Huber, United States Attorney for District of Utah as lead of the Justice Department effort to investigate concerns raised by Republican lawmakers.
Sessions decided Huber will investigate a cluster of Republican-driven accusations against the FBI and has decided that no second special counsel is needed — at least for now.
Huber has been looking into allegations that the FBI abused its powers in surveilling a former Trump campaign adviser, and more should have been done to investigate Hillary Clinton’s ties to a Russian nuclear energy agency, but his identity had remained a secret.
But Sessions’ decision to stop short of formally appointing a special counsel like Robert Mueller, detailed in a lengthy written response to three Republican chairmen on Capitol Hill, will likely anger those in the GOP who have recently ramped up calls to investigate claims of political bias at the nation’s top law enforcement agencies.
Sessions said he will rely on Huber’s review to determine if a special counsel is needed.
“We understand that the Department is not above criticism and it can never be that the Department conceals errors when they occur,” he wrote.
“I am confident that Mr. Huber’s review will include a full, complete and objective evaluation of these matters in a manner that is consistent with the law and facts,” Sessions wrote. “I receive regular updates from Mr. Huber and upon the conclusion of his review, will receive his recommendations as to whether any matters not currently under investigation should be opened, whether any matters currently under investigation require further resources, or whether any matters merit the appointment of a special counsel.”
It also comes one day after the Justice Department’s internal watchdog office confirmed it would review how the FBI obtained a warrant to monitor Trump foreign policy aide Carter Page, as well as the bureau’s relationship with Christopher Steele, the author of the Trump dossier.
Huber, who currently serves as the US attorney in Utah, may now find himself thrust into the middle of a fierce partisan struggle — with Republicans arguing anything short of a special counsel is insufficient because the Justice Department cannot investigate its own people, and Democrats maintaining that any allegations of bias are an unfounded ploy to distract from Mueller’s investigation into possible coordination between Trump campaign associates and Russian officials.
Originally appointed by President Barack Obama in 2015, Huber, along with many other US attorneys, resigned after President Donald Trump took office early last year, but was reappointed by Trump shortly thereafter.
Senator Orrin Hatch released a statement Thursday after Huber’s appointment was me public:
Mr. Huber brings decades of experience to his latest, and now very public, assignment. Most importantly, he brings the independent perspective of an accomplished federal prosecutor who has spent his career far removed from the politics of Washington. Attorney General Sessions has picked the right man for the job. I am confident that Mr. Huber will perform these duties with the utmost integrity, and I look forward to learning the results of his work at the appropriate time.”