The first Republican lawmaker has called for an independent investigation into possible contacts between Donald Trump’s associates and the Russians during last year’s election, while the White House says there’s nothing to the various claims.
Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., speaking this weekend on HBO’s Real Time With Bill Maher, praised new Attorney General Jeff Sessions, but noted that he worked on Trump’s campaign and may have an inherent conflict of interest.
“You’re going to need to use the special prosecutor’s statute and office,” Issa said, adding that “you can’t just give it to your deputy. That’s another political appointee.”
Trump and aides have rejected the idea of an outside investigation, and said that there were no contacts between campaign aides and Russian operatives involved in efforts to interfere with the 2016 election.
The FBI is already conducting an investigation of Russian election activity, as are Senate committees.
Issa, who struggled last year to win re-election in a district carried by Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, spoke about the Russia investigation after news reports of a discussion of the case between the FBI and White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus.
The White House said an FBI official approached Priebus to deny news reports about contacts between Trump associates and the Russians; Priebus asked the FBI to make that statement publicly; the FBI said it didn’t want to get into the habit of commenting on ongoing investigations.