WASHINGTON – Atty. Gen. Jeff Sessions told a conservative radio host Thursday morning that he was open to naming a "special counsel" to review actions of the Justice Department under the Obama administration.
Sessions was a vocal critic of his predecessors, Eric Holder and Loretta Lynch, and their decisions in various investigations. Among those that irked him most were the probes into Hillary Clinton's use of a private e-mail server while she was secretary of State and into the IRS' mishandling of tax exemption applications by conservative groups.
The Justice Department declined to bring charges in either investigation. In 2015, Justice Department officials sent a letter to Congress, saying it had closed its IRS investigation without charges after finding no evidence of criminal activity or politically motivated bias. But it added that it had found "substantial evidence of mismanagement, poor judgment and institutional inertia" at the agency.
Sessions told radio host Hugh Hewitt that he was "going to do everything I possibly can to restore the independence and professionalism of the Department of Justice."
"So we would have to consider whether or not some outside special counsel is needed," he said. "Generally, a good review of that internally is the first step before any such decision is made."
When asked specifically about the IRS investigation, Sessions said "that circumstance raised a lot of questions in my mind, and when I was in the Senate. So it is a matter of real concern to me."
Sessions also said he favored keeping open the controversial prison at the U.S. military base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and would support sending terror suspects there. "It's just a very fine place for holding these kinds of dangerous criminals," Sessions said.
When asked whether he would recommend to President Trump sending a newly captured enemy combatant to the prison, Sessions said "There's plenty of space."
"It's the perfect place for it," he said. "Eventually this will be decided by the military rather than the Justice Department. But I see no legal problem whatsoever with doing it."
Sessions was not asked whether he supported sending terror suspects captured in the United States to the prison; such an action would likely spark a major legal battle.