Axios’s Mike Allen is reporting that Trump’s legal team wants a second special counsel to investigate conflicts of interest at the FBI and the Department of Justice. This new proposal was prompted by a Fox News report that revealed that Brian Ohr, a senior DOJ official, had been demoted for failing to disclose meetings with Fusion GPS, the firm behind the infamous Steele dossier, during the 2016 election. Ohr’s wife was also employed by Fusion GPS in 2016.
Republicans have seized on the report to discredit the Steele dossier—arguing that it was only taken seriously because of partisanship at the DOJ—despite the fact that much of it has already been verified. According to Allen, Trump’s “legal team believes Attorney General Jeff Sessions’s Justice Department and the FBI—more than special counsel Bob Mueller himself—are to blame for what they see as a witch hunt.”
Talk of a second special counsel follows a week of calls from conservative media figures, like Sean Hannity and Jeanine Pirro, for Trump to fire Mueller. By demanding that the Department of Justice appoint someone to effectively investigate the investigators, Trump’s legal team is doing two things. First, it’s trying to cloud the issue: The Trump administration would be able to point to an “independent” investigation that backed up its claims of corruption and bias. And second, the White House is laying the groundwork for Mueller’s potential firing. The Department of Justice and the FBI, the administration argues, have shown that they are out to get the president. If this is also the conclusion of the second special counsel, Trump could argue that he has no choice but to fire Mueller.