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WATCH: House Republicans at odds over appointing a second special counsel
House Judiciary Committee Republicans are at odds over the need for a second special counsel to investigate the FBI inquiry into Hillary Clinton's email server after revelations that two officials involved in the probe exchanged anti-Trump, pro-Clinton messages.
Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.), who sits on the Judiciary panel, says that the current Justice Department inspector general, Michael Horowitz, should be allowed to continue the work that uncovered the messages. But other Republicans on the panel are pushing for more action in light of the uncovered texts.
In the hundreds of messages between FBI agent Peter Strzok and his then-girlfriend Lisa Page, an FBI lawyer, that were released, the officials call then-candidate Trump an "idiot," among other things. The messages were sent between August 2015 and December 2016, while the agents were working on working on the Clinton case and the Russia probe.
Strzok worked extensively on the investigation into Clinton's use of a private email server while she was secretary of State. Both agents worked for special counsel Robert Mueller in his ongoing investigation into Russia's election interference and possible collusion between President Trump's campaign and Moscow. Mueller removed Strzok from the inquiry over the summer. Page had already moved on to a different assignment.
Gowdy - head of the House Oversight panel - said Horowitz is "exactly what you want, which is a neutral referee." He noted that a special counsel does not guarantee impartial investigative teams.
"Mueller was supposed to hire this A-list team of objective, neutral, dispassionate fact-finders and look at what we have; so I don't know how a special counsel is a panacea," the longtime prosecutor said.
Upon discovery of the anti-Trump messages this week, a handful of GOP members doubled down on their call for a second special counsel. They pressed for the action during a Judiciary hearing with the second-ranking Justice Department official, Rod Rosenstein.
Shortly after that hearing, Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) told The Hill, "With each passing day and with each new thing we learn, it reinforces the need to have" a second special counsel.
A fellow Judiciary member, Texas Rep. John Ratcliffe (R), cautioned his colleagues to wait for the inspector general report results, which are likely due "in January or February."
The Department of Justice has "a lot of qualified people ... capable of handling any investigation" and appointing a special counsel is an "extraordinary remedy that shouldn't be used any time there's a problem or an issue," Ratcliffe, a former U.S. attorney, told The Hill.
The group of GOP lawmakers demanding a second special counsel includes Rep. Doug Collins (R-Ga.), who says, "There's still a lot of unanswered questions, I think, now coming out on the the effectiveness of the the Clinton investigation, the email investigation from last year," especially as they learn of "improprieties that seem to have come out" involving Strzok.
Jordan added that questions around several of those text messages and whether the FBI based its decision to secure "the warrants at the [Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court] court to spy on Americans" on the "disproven, discredited garbage dossier" need answers. If the answer is yes, "then this confirms that the FBI worked with one campaign to go after the other," he said.
"That's why it's time for the Mueller thing to be stopped and a second counsel to start," Jordan added.
Watch the video above to hear lawmakers in their own words.