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Issa: Russia investigation needs special prosecutor

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LOS ANGELES — Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Vista), who supported Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential election, said a special prosecutor should investigate reported communications between the Trump campaign and Russians known to US intelligence, not Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

“You are right that you cannot have somebody, a friend of mine — Jeff Sessions — who was on the campaign and who was an appointee,” Issa said Friday on HBO’s “Real Time with Bill Maher.” “You’re going to need to use the special prosecutor’s statute and office … not just to recuse. You can’t just give it to your deputy. That’s a political appointee.”

Issa said an investigation might not reveal any fault on the part of Trump’s associates, but a special prosecutor is needed given the growing awareness of the dangers posed by Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“We’re going to have to do it,” he told Maher. “There may or may not be fault, but the American people … are beginning to understand that Putin murders his enemies.”

“We’re going to ask the Intelligence Committees of the House and Senate to investigate within the special areas that they oversee,” added Issa, who sits on the House Oversight and Foreign Affairs committees.

Former national security adviser Michael Flynn resigned earlier this month after acknowledging he did not provide Vice President Mike Pence with a full account of his communications with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak — conversations that reportedly involved US sanctions.

The concerns Issa expressed about Sessions’ close relationship with Trump and how that could affect the investigation are shared by other lawmakers.

While many Democrats have spoken out about the need for an investigation into the Trump campaign’s reported communications with Russians known to US intelligence, responses from Republicans have been mixed. Some GOP lawmakers have said the investigations should focus on the leaks from the intelligence community rather than the reported campaign contact with Russian individuals.

Earlier this week, multiple U.S. officials briefed on the matter told CNN that the FBI rejected a recent White House request to publicly knock down media reports about communications between Trump’s associates and Russians known to US intelligence during the presidential campaign.

But a White House official said late Thursday that the request was made only after the FBI indicated to the White House that it did not believe the reporting to be accurate.

White House officials sought the help of the intelligence community investigating the issue to say reports were incorrect and that there had been no contacts, the officials said. Reports of contacts between the camps were first published by CNN on February 14.

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