GOP chairmen: Sessions move to probe alleged FISA abuse 'a step in the right direction'

GOP chairmen: Sessions move to probe alleged FISA abuse 'a step in the right direction'
© Greg Nash

Two top House Republicans said Thursday that Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsOn the Trail: Senate GOP hopefuls tie themselves to Trump Trump looms as flashpoint in Alabama Senate battle Trump tweets test Attorney General Barr MORE's decision to appoint a federal prosecutor in Utah to investigate allegations of surveillance abuse by the FBI is a "step in the right direction."

Reps. Trey GowdyHarold (Trey) Watson GowdySunday shows preview: 2020 Democrats jockey for top spot ahead of Nevada caucuses Sunday shows preview: Lawmakers prepare for week two of impeachment trial Green says House shouldn't hold impeachment articles indefinitely MORE (R-S.C.) and Bob GoodlatteRobert (Bob) William GoodlatteUSCIS chief Cuccinelli blames Paul Ryan for immigration inaction Immigrant advocacy groups shouldn't be opposing Trump's raids Top Republican releases full transcript of Bruce Ohr interview MORE (R-Va.), the chairmen of the House Oversight and Government Reform and Judiciary committees, respectively, said in a statement that they still believed the appointment of a special counsel was necessary to probe the allegations against the FBI.

But they also said they were "encouraged" by Sessions's appointment of U.S. Attorney John Huber to investigate potential abuses.

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"While we continue to believe the appointment of a second Special Counsel is necessary, this is a step in the right direction. We expect that U.S. Attorney Huber, given his reputation, will conduct an independent and thorough investigation," Gowdy and Goodlatte said.

"Such an investigation is critical to restoring the reputation of both the Bureau and DOJ in the eyes of the American people," they added.

The statement came after Sessions revealed in a letter to the Republican chairmen that he had declined to appoint a special counsel to oversee such an investigation, at least for now.

He also revealed in that letter that Huber was investigating whether the FBI and Justice Department had abused their authority in obtaining a clandestine surveillance warrant on Carter Page, a former foreign policy adviser to President TrumpDonald John TrumpSchiff blasts Trump for making 'false claims' about Russia intel: 'You've betrayed America. Again.' Poll: Sanders leads 2020 Democratic field with 28 percent, followed by Warren and Biden More than 6 in 10 expect Trump to be reelected: poll MORE's campaign.

Sessions has faced pressure for months to appoint a special counsel to oversee such an investigation. He said in the letter to Goodlatte and Gowdy that he had directed the department's inspector general, Michael Horowitz, to open a probe into the allegations. That investigation was formally announced on Wednesday.