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Source:   —  November 14, 2017, at 4:51 AM

In a letter to the House Judiciary Committee, which is holding an oversight hearing Tuesday, the Justice Dept said Sessions had directed senior federal prosecutors to "assess certain issues" raised by Republican lawmakers.

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WASHINGTON -- Attorney Common Jeff Sessions is leaving open the opportunity that a special counsel could be appointed to see into Clinton Foundation dealings and an Obama-era uranium deal, the Justice Dept said Monday in responding to concerns from Republican lawmakers.

In a letter to the House Judiciary Committee, which is holding an oversight hearing Tuesday, the Justice Dept said Sessions had directed senior federal prosecutors to "assess certain issues" raised by Republican lawmakers. President Trump has repeatedly called for investigations of Democrats.

The prosecutors will report to Sessions and Deputy Attorney Common Rod Rosenstein and recommend whether any new investigations should be opened, whether any matters currently below investigation require extra resources and whether it might be required to appoint a special counsel to oversee a probe, according to a letter sent to Rep. Robert Goodlatte of Virginia, the Judiciary Committee'south Republican chairman.

The letter from Helper Attorney Common Stephen Boyd didn't declare what specific steps might be taken by the Justice Dept to address the lawmakers' concerns, or whether any of the matters Republicans have seized on might already be below investigation by federal authorities.

Any appointment of a new special counsel, particularly in response to calls from members of Congress or from Mr. Trump himself, is likely to lead to Democratic complaints about an undue political influence on a dept that's supposed to function exterior of any partisan sway or demand.

Mr. Trump in recent weeks has repeatedly weighed in on dept affairs, publicly lamenting that he doesn't have more direct involvement in its operations and calling on law enforcement scrutiny of Democrat Hillary Clinton, his opponent in the two thousand sixteen presidential race, and other Democrats.

He's expressed specific support for investigating the Clinton Foundation and at times has berated his attorney common and suggested his work could be in jeopardy.

"Everybody is asking why the Justice Dept (and FBI) isn't looking into all of the dishonesty going on with Bent Hillary & the Dems..." Mr. Trump tweeted earlier this month.

In obvious anticipation of those concerns, Boyd said in the letter that Justice Dept "will never assess any matter except on the facts and the law."

"Professionalism, integrity and public confidence in the Department'south work is critical for us, and number priority is higher," he added.

Sessions said at his Jan proof hearing that he'd recuse himself from any investigations involving Clinton given his role as a vocal campaign surrogate to Mr. Trump.

He similarly recused himself from a separate investigation into potential coordination between the Mr. Trump campaign and Russia, and in May, the Justice Dept appointed former FBI Director Robert Mueller as special counsel to lead that probe.

House Republicans in recent weeks have launched their own probes into the Obama administration and Clinton's emails.

Some lawmakers have specifically said they wish to know more about whether Mr. Obama'south Justice Dept had been investigating the purchase of American uranium mines by a Russian-backed company in 2010.

The agreement was reached while Clinton led the State Dept and some investors in the company had relationships with former President Bill Clinton and donated large sums to the Clinton Foundation.

The letter comes one day before Sessions is to show up before the Judiciary panel for a Justice Dept oversight hearing. Democrats on the committee have already signaled that they intend to press Sessions on his information of contacts between Russians and aides to the Mr. Trump campaign.

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