Sessions: Mueller probe has taken on 'life of its own'

Sessions: Mueller probe has taken on 'life of its own'
© Greg Nash

Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsOvernight Hillicon Valley — Apple issues security update against spyware vulnerability Stanford professors ask DOJ to stop looking for Chinese spies at universities in US Overnight Energy & Environment — Democrats detail clean electricity program MORE on Thursday defended his decision not to appoint a second special counsel to investigate alleged bias in the Justice Department, saying the current probe into Russia's election meddling has already taken "on a life of its own."

Asked by a House Appropriations panel about GOP accusations of surveillance abuse, Sessions told lawmakers that the Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) MuellerSenate Democrats urge Garland not to fight court order to release Trump obstruction memo Why a special counsel is guaranteed if Biden chooses Yates, Cuomo or Jones as AG Barr taps attorney investigating Russia probe origins as special counsel MORE probe proved that it was a bad idea to appoint special counsels "willy-nilly."

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“I do not think we need to willy-nilly appoint special counsels,” Sessions said. “As we can see, it can really take on a life of its own.”

He added that the Department of Justice (DOJ) needs to “be disciplined and stay within our classical procedure and rules” before opening further investigations.

The remarks came the same day that the Senate Judiciary Committee approved legislation to protect Mueller from a possible firing attempt by President TrumpDonald TrumpKinzinger says Trump 'winning' because so many Republicans 'have remained silent' Our remote warfare counterterrorism strategy is more risk than reward Far-right rally draws small crowd, large police presence at Capitol MORE. Democrats and some Republicans have become increasingly concerned that Trump will seek to fire Mueller, whose probe he has dismissed as a "hoax" and a "witch hunt."

Republicans have been clamoring for weeks for the appointment of a second special counsel to probe the FBI's handling of both the investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia and the investigation into former Secretary of State Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonClinton lawyer's indictment reveals 'bag of tricks' Attorney charged in Durham investigation pleads not guilty Attorney indicted on charge of lying to FBI as part of Durham investigation MORE's private email server.

GOP lawmakers have argued that both investigations were marked by instances in which FBI agents displayed personal bias against Trump and for Clinton.

Sessions announced in March that he would not approve the appointment of a second special counsel, but instead named a federal prosecutor from Utah, John Huber, to lead the investigation into Republicans' allegations that the FBI and DOJ abused a surveillance program against a former Trump campaign aide.

The chairmen of the House Oversight and Government Reform and House Judiciary committees, Reps. Trey GowdyTrey GowdyTrey Gowdy sets goal of avoiding ideological echo chamber with Fox News show Fox News signs Trey Gowdy, Dan Bongino for new shows Pompeo rebukes Biden's new foreign policy MORE (R-S.C.) and Bob GoodlatteRobert (Bob) William GoodlatteThe job of shielding journalists is not finished Bottom line No documents? Hoping for legalization? Be wary of Joe Biden MORE (R-Va.), respectively, applauded the move, but continued their calls for a second special counsel to investigate supposed misconduct.

"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," the two chairmen said in a statement last month.

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