In recent weeks, prominent Democrats have made noises about wanting to appoint a special prosecutor to look at the Trump administration’s ties to Russia. After thorough questioning at his confirmation hearing, Trump’s Attorney General Jeff Sessions has said he would recuse himself from any inquiries directed toward the president in this regard.
However, Democrats should be careful what they wish for because they just might get it. Lately, there’s been talk that Sessions may be mulling over appointing his own prosecutor to look at abuses the Department of Justice (DOJ) may have committed under ex-President Obama and Obama’s two attorneys general, Eric Holder and Loretta Lynch.
To many observers’ eyes, the DOJ under Obama became more politicized than at any other time in modern history. There were numerous scandals involving the DOJ either taking or withholding action on matters such as the “Fast and Furious” gun-running scandal, the targeting of conservative nonprofit groups by the IRS and the decision not to bring criminal charges against former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for her unsanctioned private email server.
On the nationally syndicated radio show hosted by conservative academic Hugh Hewitt, Hewitt asked Sessions if he would consider appointing a special prosecutor to “just generally look at how the Department of Justice operated.”
Sessions was noncommittal, but said he wanted to do what he could to “restore the independence and professionalism of the Department of Justice… So we would have to consider whether or not some outside special counsel is needed. Generally, a good review of that internally is the first step before any such decision is made.”
Sessions stated that the IRS case especially remained “of real concern.” In 2015, the DOJ found there was mismanagement at the revenue service, but concluded that there was no evidence it targeted political groups based on their party or representation.
It should be said that the majority of Republicans feel exactly the opposite way, and this conclusion at the DOJ can be easily traced to the fact that the leadership of the agency was tied directly to the White House via the appointment of the two above-cited AGs.
As far as Hillary Clinton goes, President Trump had previously indicated he wanted a special prosecutor to look into her case while he was running for office. But after his election, he became ambivalent about the matter, saying about the Clintons at one point (prior to Hillary’s calling for state election recounts) that “they’re good people.”
As for the Fast and Furious scandal, Republican Representative Jason Chaffetz of Utah, among others, would like to revisit the case of the murder of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Agent Jaime Zapata in Mexico in 2011. Recently, Chaffetz issued a subpoena for two ATF employees who didn’t show up to testify to the Chaffetz’s House Oversight Committee (which he chairs) regarding the matter.
An upset Chaffetz told Fox News, “I’m tired of hearing from just [Justice Department] management; I want to hear from the people that actually are on the front lines doing this.” The two men Chaffetz subpoenaed, ATF Associate Director Ronald Turk and Special Agent in Charge of the Dallas Field Division William Temple, have intimate knowledge of the murder, which was committed using a gun belonging to the Fast and Furious program.
Not only was Zapata killed that day in Mexico, but his partner Victor Avila was wounded in the attack by 14 heavily armed men who had followed their car after it left the American consulate in Monterrey. The men fired 90 rounds into Zapata’s and Avila’s vehicle and fled the scene.
Zapata died in a rescue helicopter that arrived while Avila lived through the ordeal and spoke out about the attack last year. Avila said that the two men Chaffetz subpoenaed, Turk and Temple, had a supervisory role in the operation and that despite the State Department warning against travel on the stretch of highway where the incident occurred, Turk and Temple “ignored the warning” and ordered Avila and Zapata to make use of it anyway.
“I was vocally upset. We had heard very bad things about that stretch of road. Everybody knew I didn’t want to go, but I was ordered, and you follow orders,” said Avila.
The murder weapon used in the attack was ultimately traced to a Dallas gun shop, where a local citizen named Otilio Osorio had purchased and then sold the AK-47 used in the crime. Osorio was later arrested for illegal weapons dealing and given a seven-year sentence.
But prior to the crime occurring, the ATF had been tracking Osorio and his brother for many months and took no action when the murder weapon passed through their hands initially. The ATF apparently even has undercover footage of both brothers selling guns.
One ATF whistleblower has said “What [the ATF] files clearly demonstrate is that the Osorio brothers blipped the radar long before they made the purchase of the firearm that was ultimately used to kill Jaime Zapata and injure Victor Avila. And I think those files document sufficiently that they blipped the radar of such a magnitude and frequency that something should have been done before they ever had the opportunity to purchase those guns that were used to kill Zapata.”
Republican Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee Chuck Grassley said, “It’s an outrage that this information wasn’t given to Congress when we asked for it. It’s an outrage that this information wasn’t given to the family, but the biggest outrage is that that information wasn’t given to the rest of the people that were involved, and if those people were arrested for violating the law, then Agent Zapata might still be alive.”
It’s just these types of incidents that Attorney General Sessions would do well to examine, especially in light of new information coming out (the IRS is reportedly still holding up documents demanded by Congress via FOIA requests).
If the Democrats succeed in getting their way in regards to Trump and a special prosecutor for Russian ties, there’s no reason why there should be a “hands-off” policy on ex-President Obama’s DOJ (particularly if it ordered the wiretapping that tracked Russian contacts in the first place). Let’s hope that Sessions doesn’t back off on these federal abusers of our nation’s laws.
~ Conservative Zone