No, Darrell Issa hasn’t backtracked on calling for a Donald Trump Russia special prosecutor
Some news outlets sure seem to be having fun with their headlines today, but there’s no “there” there. On Friday night, Republican Congressman Darrell Issa made the surprise announcement on the Bill Maher show that he believes an independent special prosector will be needed in Donald Trump’s Russia scandal. On Monday, Issa provided more context to his remarks. And now a raft of headlines is incorrectly claiming that Issa has “backtracked.”
But those headlines just aren’t accurate. Congressman Issa made his initial remarks during a three minute interview on a talk show, which provided no real opportunity for context or detail, particularly when it comes to the legalities involved. But when he was back in the House after recess on Monday, he offered a more detailed explanation of his view – pointing out that you can’t have a special prosector until an investigation has a prosecutable target.
What Issa was hinting at is that at the current time, Russia is still the only suspect in the election rigging scandal. Donald Trump, or even someone like Michael Flynn, wouldn’t be named a suspect until the investigation currently being carried out by the FBI and other law enforcement agencies progresses further. To that end, the Department of Justice isn’t yet involved in the matter, so there’s no reason for Attorney General Jeff Sessions to recuse himself yet; there’s literally nothing for him to recuse himself at this time.
In other words, Darrell Issa had merely been stating his view that when the Trump-Russia investigation reaches the prosecution phase, Sessions should recuse himself in favor of a special prosecutor. But that didn’t stop CBS News from running with the headline “GOP Rep. Darrell Issa backtracks on call for Trump special prosecutor.” CBS has now updated its article to include a statement from Issa’s office that he “did not walk back his previous comments” – and yet the erroneous headline still stands.
Meanwhile, Darrell Issa’s stated view that a special prosecutor will be needed was a symbolic one to begin with. He does not sit on the House Intelligence Committee, which would be handling the House investigation. Moreover, the House Intelligence Committee has consistently refused to investigate Trump-Russia. To date, the Trump-Russia investigation has been handled entirely by the Senate Intelligence Committee, and Issa isn’t even in the Senate. So it’s not as if he gets a vote on the matter. Here’s merely an influential Republican who stated his view, and when the time comes, his stated view will carry weight with other Republicans. All of the above seemed evident when he first stated that view on Friday night. Help us investigate Trump-Russia!
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Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report