The headlines called it a non-event when Attorney General Jeff Sessions decided not to appoint a special counsel to look into the special counsel after all. For the people who believe that fired FBI agent Andrew McCabe is at the center (with Hillary Clinton, natch) of a vast Deep-State conspiracy to bring down Donald Trump, this was a bitter disappointment.
Or maybe not. As the stories noted farther down, Sessions did announce that sometime last fall, without saying anything publicly at the time, he had appointed the U.S. Attorney for Utah, John Huber, to team up with Justice Department inspector general Michael Horowitz to conduct an internal investigation into all the questions that Republicans in Congress have raised about the FBI and its allegedly raging anti-Trumpery.
What does this mean? Don’t worry, say most people I’ve talked to. Norm Eisen of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington told me that “it is not unusual to task U.S. attorneys outside Washington with things like this because they’re outside the bubble” and that “Huber has a good and non-partisan reputation.” Brian Fallon, erstwhile spokesman for Hillary Clinton’s campaign, tells me he’s “not overly concerned (yet)” with this development, adding that a U.S. attorney like Huber has to work with FBI agents every day, so he’s unlikely to go out of his way to antagonize the bureau.
Huber does have a solid rep. He was originally appointed by President Obama, as all the stories mentioned. However, what most stories didn’t mention is that Obama did not insist on appointing Democrats to fill U.S. attorney slots in red states, often naming Republicans just to avoid a Senate fight, especially if the state had two GOP senators (as Utah did when Obama named Huber). Most of them also didn’t mention that last year, Huber raised eyebrows by appearing at a press conference at the White House—a quite unusual move for an independent prosecutor—to tout (of all things!) aspects of Donald Trump’s immigration agenda.
But fine. Let’s say he’s the straightest arrow in the history of arrows. I still say it’s worth taking a moment to recognize the enormous power the man has been handed; the grave extent to which he may one day hold the Constitution in his hands; and the unprecedented nature of the situation into which he’s been thrust.
Let’s deal in detail with the last point, because if you’re news junkie enough to have followed all this for the last few days, you may be thinking: Unprecedented? No it’s not, Tomasky.
Well, I beg to differ.