WASHINGTON, D.C. — White House Chief of Staff John Kelly said on Monday a special counsel should be appointed to investigate Democrats over a uranium deal during the Obama administration and a dossier compiled on Donald Trump during the 2016 presidential campaign.
“I think probably as a layman looking at this kind of thing we need to find someone who is very, very objective who can get to the bottom of these accusations,” Kelly said in an interview on Fox News.
A special counsel would be appointed by the Justice Department.
Republicans in Congress last week launched parallel investigations, one into an Obama-era deal in which a Russian company bought a Canadian firm that owned some 20 percent of U.S. uranium supplies. Critics of the deal say the State Department approved it after Clinton’s husband’s charitable foundation received a $145 million donation. Clinton says she did not actively participate in the decision.
The other inquiry is into whether Democrats funded a dossier put together during last year’s presidential campaign that detailed accusations about Trump’s ties to Russia.
The Democratic National Committee allegedly commissioned opposition research by Fusion GPS, a firm hired by a lawyer for Clinton named Marc Elias. Elias is also the lawyer for N.C. Gov. Roy Cooper and led Cooper’s recount arguments following the tight outcome of the race that unseated Republican Gov. Pat McCrory.
The investigation centers around whether the dossier was the foundation of the FBI’s investigation into allegations that the Trump campaign colluded with Russia. So far, there no evidence to support the allegations.
“This is a really simple request. Did you rely on the dossier, and if so, did you vet it before you relied upon it?” Gowdy said on Fox News Sunday over the weekend. “You can answer that in 30 seconds, but it’s taken three months for the Department of Justice, and only recently have they agreed to give us the information. The battle is not just with House Democrats, unfortunately it’s also with the Department of Justice.
“If they relied on that dossier and they didn’t corroborate it or vet it, then we have a serious issue and that’s the next thing that House intel is trying to find out, whether or not the U.S. government relied on it,” he added.
Kelly’s call for a special counsel to investigate Democrats comes as a probe by special counsel Robert Mueller into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russians produced its first charges and a guilty plea.
A grand jury impaneled by Mueller indicted former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort and aide Rick Gates on Monday. A third former Trump adviser, George Papadopoulos, pleaded guilty in early October to lying to the FBI, it was announced on Monday.
Following the indictment, prominent Washington lobbyist Tony Podesta stepped down from his lobbying firm, Podesta Group. Podesta is the brother of John Podesta, who served as chairman of Clinton’s presidential campaign and was a senior White House adviser to Democratic former President Barack Obama.
The indictment against Manafort and Gates listed two unnamed firms as “Company A” and “Company B” that lobbied several lawmakers on behalf of Ukraine at Manafort’s request.
The indictment did not name Podesta Group.
A spokesperson for the Podesta Group said after Podesta stepped down on Monday that it had been in contact with investigators on Mueller’s team and was fully cooperating with the probe.
The spokesperson also said the Podesta Group fully complied with the law in disclosing its lobbying on behalf of the European Centre for a Modern Ukraine, a group linked to Manafort and named in the indictment.
Podesta Group filed lobbying disclosures with the Department of Justice in April and August saying it did work in 2012 for the same pro-Russian Ukrainian group for which Manafort had worked. Podesta Group worked alongside another Washington lobbying firm, Mercury LLC, which also said on Monday that it also was cooperating with Mueller’s team.
Podesta is listed as a lobbyist on several of the firm’s largest accounts including Wells Fargo, Lockheed Martin, Oracle, Walmart, Textron and General Dynamics.