GOP senator 'pleased' with Sessions appointment of prosecutor rather than special counsel

Sen. Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonGrassley says he'll decide this fall whether to run in 2022 Top cops deflect blame over Capitol attack NRSC chair Scott calls for party unity: 'The Republican Civil War is now cancelled' MORE (R-Wis.) said Sunday he is "pleased" with the appointment of a federal prosecutor to investigate Republicans' allegations that the FBI and Justice Department abused a surveillance program against a former Trump campaign aide. 

"He is a disinterested U.S. attorney to work with the Office of the Inspector General," the conservative senator told NBC's “Meet The Press” host Chuck Todd. "I think that's actually the best case for the time being, because the Office of the Inspector General is somewhat independent of the [Department of Justice]."

Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsManchin flexes muscle in 50-50 Senate Udalls: Haaland criticism motivated 'by something other than her record' Ocasio-Cortez targets Manchin over Haaland confirmation MORE last month appointed John Huber, a U.S. attorney from Utah, to lead the investigation.

A number of other conservatives are frustrated that Sessions refused to appoint a second special counsel to lead the investigation, as they had asked. Johnson joins a group that has warmed to Sessions's decision. 

Republicans say FBI and Justice Department officials misused their authority to obtain a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act order on Carter Page, a former Trump campaign adviser.


Johnson also said special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) MuellerWhy a special counsel is guaranteed if Biden chooses Yates, Cuomo or Jones as AG Barr taps attorney investigating Russia probe origins as special counsel CNN's Toobin warns McCabe is in 'perilous condition' with emboldened Trump MORE — who is currently investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election — should finish his investigation, even though he worries he was appointed "too soon."

“I would have rather had the process play out because public disclosure, the public’s right to know, trumps everything else," Johnson said.

Johnson in October called for Mueller to resign, arguing his investigation interfered with congressional investigations.

He said Sunday that he still worries Mueller, a former FBI director, is too closely tied to the FBI and Justice Department, agencies that Republicans have accused of bias.

“The special counsel was named far too soon, I would’ve much rather had the Senate and House Intelligence committees complete their report,” Johnson said.

Johnson said the goals of a special counsel and congressional oversight are completely different and the congressional investigations have been hampered by the special counsel investigation.

“When you have a criminal investigation, it is that much more difficult for Congress to allow the American public to understand what is happening,” Johnson added. 

The House Intelligence Committee recently ended interviewing witnesses and will release a report that says there was no collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.

Democrats on the committee said the investigation did not go far enough and have stressed that more needs to be looked into. The Senate Intelligence Committee is carrying out its own investigation into Russian meddling.

Johnson said the Mueller investigation has impeded public disclosure because it, unlike a congressional investigation, does not disclose the information it has gathered.