Thirty-one GOP senators call for special counsel to investigate security leaks

Thirty-one Republican senators have signed a letter calling on Attorney General Eric HolderEric Himpton HolderCongress and contempt: What you need to know Congress and contempt: What you need to know The Hill's Morning Report - Democrats wonder: Can Nadler handle the Trump probe? MORE to immediately appoint a special counsel to investigation national-security leaks from the executive branch.

“The numerous national-security leaks reportedly originating out of the executive branch in recent months have been stunning,” they wrote to Holder.

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“If true, they reveal details of some of our nation’s most highly classified and sensitive military and intelligence matters, thereby risking our national security, as well as the lives of American citizens and our allies. If there were ever a case requiring an outside special counsel with bipartisan acceptance and widespread public trust, this is it,” they wrote.

The letter cites instances when President Obama and Vice President Biden demanded similar investigations while serving in the Senate.

The GOP lawmakers also single out National Security Adviser Thomas Donilon as a likely source of leaks in New York Times reporter David Sanger’s book, Confront and Conceal.

The senators argue that the administration should not be expected to investigate itself in the midst of an election year and that such a probe by the Justice Department “does not ensure a full and thorough investigation free of influence.”

They say an outside special counsel would ensure an investigation of leaks is free of political influence.

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Earlier this month McCain introduced a non-binding Senate resolution calling for a special counsel to investigate. Senate Democrats blocked that move, although lawmakers on both sides have criticized the leaks.

The lawmakers say their request is in step with Senate precedent, noting then-Sen. Obama requested a special investigation to dig into the outing of former CIA operative Valerie Plame Wilson.

They also cite then-Sen. Biden’s 2007 request for a special counsel to investigate the destruction of CIA "enhanced interrogation" tapes.

Biden at the time said “the easiest, straightest thing to do is to take it out of the political realm, appoint a special prosecutor and let them decide.”

Biden signed a letter in 2003 calling for an outside special counsel in the Plame investigation, the GOP senators noted.