Over the years I’ve never thought much, one way or another, regarding the use of a Special Counsel, Independent Counsel or Special Prosecutor.
Now I’m thinking it’s all a sham.
Depending on your age, the only recollection may be that of Independent Counsel Ken Starr who finally nailed former President Bill Clinton, not for messing around with an intern, but for lying about it under oath.
The only other instance people may recall is the sham appointment of Special Counsel Patrick J. Fitzgerald, to investigate the outing of CIA operative, who wasn’t an operative, Valerie Plame. If you recall, Fitzgerald just continued to root around until he found a fall guy, Scooter Libby. Libby went to the Big House for something he did not do, while the real culprit, Former Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage, was never even questioned. He later admitted that he was in fact the guy.
As an aside and just to show how sickeningly incestuous Washington D.C. is – guess who appointed Special Counsel Patrick J. Fitzgerald in 2003? It was none other than then acting Attorney General James Comey. Small world isn’t it. It sure is in the Swamp.
After that we went for years without the mention of a Special Counsel. But these days, it’s all we hear. Appoint a Special Counsel for this and another for that.
In order to do so, the Justice Department’s want must meet the criteria laid out in 28 CFR 600.1 – Grounds for appointing a Special Counsel.
§ 600.1 Grounds for appointing a Special Counsel.
The Attorney General, or in cases in which the Attorney General is recused, the Acting Attorney General, will appoint a Special Counsel when he or she determines that criminal investigation of a person or matter is warranted and –
(a) That investigation or prosecution of that person or matter by a United States Attorney’s Office or litigating Division of the Department of Justice would present a conflict of interest for the Department or other extraordinary circumstances; and
(b) That under the circumstances, it would be in the public interest to appoint an outside Special Counsel to assume responsibility for the matter.
To me, this sounds like a dodge.
It sounds just like years ago when our brave federal legislators set up a Blue Ribbon Panel of former political hacks to determine military base closures. The Base Realignment & Closure Commission (BRAC) took the heat off of seated political hacks by enlisting retired hacks to do the dirty and unpopular work of recommending base closures. This way the current politicians could deflect blame. Neat trick – getting paid for not doing your job.
Speaking of this – another reason not to appoint Special Counsels is their “permanent indefinite appropriation.” Special Counsels are appointed to find wrong-doing – and by God, they won’t stop until they’ve found something – anything. And the reason they can do this is their “permanent indefinite appropriation.” In other words, they have a limitless budget for as long as they feint viability. Must be nice – but hey – it’s not their money.
I always liked Jeff Sessions. I thought he was a strong conservative and a decent man. However, listening to him over these last several months I’m not sure he’s cut out for the job. It’s just my opinion.
As far as Special Counsels, Independent Counsels or Special Prosecutors go – the whole program should be scrapped. This is the job of the Justice Department and only them. We give the Justice Department almost $30 billion a year to run their department, yet somehow they can’t manage to do the job – instead farming it out and wasting tens of millions more of our money.
If the first thing an Attorney General does after assuming office is feel the need to recuse himself as Sessions did, and as did John Ashcroft, which gave rise to Comey, he should resign or be fired and replaced with someone who can and will do the job.