In 2017, after the appointment of Special Counsel Robert Muller to oversee the FBI’s Trump-Russia investigation, Congressional Republicans asked the Department of Justice to appoint a second Special Counsel to investigate other matters they wanted investigated, like the Clinton Foundation and Uranium One. Then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions refused, but he tasked John Huber, U.S. Attorney for the District of Utah, with looking into whether any new investigations needed to be opened or any new Special Counsels needed to be appointed in regard to the matters that Congressional Republicans had raised.

Attorney General Sessions’ letter tasking Huber with this was just released through a Freedom of Information Act request, but it’s rather vague. So my question is, what are the exact subjects that Huber was tasked with looking into?

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On November 22, 2017, Attorney General Sessions sent Huber a letter saying this:

In consultation with the Deputy Attorney General, I have requested that you review the matters referenced in the enclosed November 13, 2017 letter from Assistant Attorney General Stephen Boyd to House Judiciary Commitee Chairman Robert Goodlatte and make recommendations to me or the Deputy Attorney General, as appropriate. Your review need not include matters that you determine are within the scope of the investigation being conducted by Special Counsel Robert Mueller. Your recommendations should include whether any matters not currently under investigation warrants the opening of an investigation, whether any matters currently under investigation require further resources or further investigation, and whether any matters would merit the appointment of a Special Counsel.

The part in bold is a reference to this November 13, 2017 letter, where Assistant Attorney General Boyd tells Chairman Goodlatte this:

This responds to your letters dated July 27, 2017, and September 26, 2017, in which you and other Members request the appointment of a Special Counsel to investigate various matters, including the sale of Uranium One, alleged unlawful dealings related to the Clinton Foundation and other matters.... [T]he Attorney General has directed senior federal prosecutors to evaluate certain issues raised in your letters. These senior prosecutors will report directly to the Attorney General and the Deputy Attorney General, as appropriate, and will make recommendations as to whether any of the matters not currently under investigation should be opened, whether any matters currently under investigation require further resources, or whether any matters merit the appointment of a Special Counsel.

The parts in bold are a reference to this July 27, 2017 letter and this September 26, 2017 letter sent by Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee asking Sessions to appoint a second Special Counsel to investigate a variety of topics. Here are the topics listed in the July 27 letter:

  1. Then-Attorney General Loretta Lynch directing Mr. Comey to mislead the American people on the nature of the Clinton investigation;
  2. The shadow cast over our system of justice concerning Secretary Clinton and her involvement in mishandling classified information;
  3. FBI and DOJ’s investigative decisions related to former Secretary Clinton’s email investigation, including the propriety and consequence of immunity deals given to potential Clinton co-conspirators Cheryl Mills, Heather Samuelson, John Bentel and possibly others;
  4. The apparent failure of DOJ to empanel a grand jury to investigate allegations of mishandling of classified information by Hillary Clinton and her associates;
  5. The Department of State and its employees’ involvement in determining which communications of Secretary Clinton’s and her associates to turn over for public scrutiny;
  6. WikiLeaks disclosures concerning the Clinton Foundation and its potentially unlawful international dealings;
  7. Connections between the Clinton campaign, or the Clinton Foundation, and foreign entities, including those from Russia and Ukraine;
  8. Mr. Comey’s knowledge of the purchase of Uranium One by the company Rosatom, whether the approval of the sale was connected to any donations made to the Clinton Foundation, and what role Secretary Clinton played in the approval of that sale that had national security ramifications;
  9. Disclosures arising from unlawful access to the Democratic National Committee’s (DNC) computer systems, including inappropriate collusion between the DNC and the Clinton campaign to undermine Senator Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign;
  10. Post-election accusations by the President that he was wiretapped by the previous Administration, and whether Mr. Comey and Ms. Lynch had any knowledge of efforts made by any federal agency to unlawfully monitor communications of then-candidate Trump or his associates;
  11. Selected leaks of classified information related to the unmasking of U.S. person identities incidentally collected upon by the intelligence community, including an assessment of whether anyone in the Obama Administration, including Mr. Comey, Ms. Lynch, Ms. Susan Rice, Ms. Samantha Power, or others, had any knowledge about the “unmasking” of individuals on then candidate-Trump’s campaign team, transition team, or both;
  12. Admitted leaks by Mr. Comey to Columbia University law professor, Daniel Richman, regarding conversations between Mr. Comey and President Trump, how the leaked information was purposefully released to lead to the appointment of a special counsel, and whether any classified information was included in the now infamous “Comey memos”;
  13. Mr. Comey’s and the FBI’s apparent reliance on “Fusion GPS” in its investigation of the Trump campaign, including the company’s creation of a “dossier” of information about Mr. Trump, that dossier’s commission and dissemination in the months before and after the 2016 election, whether the FBI paid anyone connected to the dossier, and the intelligence sources of Fusion GPS or any person or company working for Fusion GPS and its affiliates; and
  14. Any and all potential leaks originated by Mr. Comey and provide to author Michael Schmidt dating back to 1993.

And here is what the September 26 letter says:

In this case, it appears that Director Comey and other senior Justice Department and government officials may have pre-judged the “matter” before all the facts were known, thereby ensuring former Secretary Clinton would not be charged for her criminal activity.  We implore you to name a second special counsel, to investigate this and other matters related to the 2016 election, including the conduct of the Justice Department regarding the investigation into Secretary Clinton’s private email server.

Note that Boyd said that Sessions only asked Huber to look into some of these topics to see whether any new investigations need to be opened or new special counsels need to be appointed. And note that Boyd says later on in the letter that some of the topics Congressional Republicans want investigated overlap with what the Inspector General for the Department of Justice was investigating at the time, namely the topics related to the Clinton email investigation. And Boyd indicates that the DOJ would wait for the IG report before taking any action on those matters. (The IG report was later released in June 2018.) So presumably what Huber was tasked with investigating was some of the topics unrelated to the Clinton email investigation.

We do have a bit more information, however, because Attorney General Sessions says this in a March 29, 2018 letter to Congressional Republicans:

Mr. Huber is conducting his work from outside the Washington, DC. area and in cooperation with the Inspector General. The additional matters raised in your March 6, 2018 letter fall within the scope of his existing mandate, and I am confident that Mr. Huber’s review will include a full, complete, and objective evaluation of these matters in a manner that is consistent with the law and the facts. I receive regular updates from Mr. Huber and upon the conclusion of his review, will receive his recommendations as to whether any matters not currently under investigation should be opened, whether any matters currently under investigation require further resources, or whether any matters merit the appointment of a Special Counsel.

The part in bold is a reference to this March 6, 2018 letter sent by House Republican Committee Chairs Bob Goodlatte and Trey Gowdy, asking Sessions yet again to appoint a second Special Counsel, on the following topics:

Accordingly, we request that you appoint a Special Counsel to review decisions made and not made by the Department of Justice and the FBI in 2016 and 2017, including but not limited to evidence of bias by any employee or agent of the DOJ, FBI, or other agencies involved in the investigation; the decisions to charge or not charge and whether those decisions were made consistent with the applicable facts, the applicable law, and traditional investigative and prosecutorial policies and procedures; and whether the FISA process employed in the fall of 2016 was appropriate and devoid of extraneous influence.

Attorney General Sessions says that these topics are within the existing scope of Huber’s existing mandate, so we know that his scope covers at least that much.

In any case, based on all this information, if I were to guess, I think Huber is probably looking into at least the following topics:

  1. The Clinton Foundation
  2. Uranium One
  3. FISA Abuse

I should reiterate, by the way, that Huber is not actually undertaking any criminal investigations. He is conducting a review the conclusion of which will be him making recommendations to the Attorney General or Deputy Attorney General concerning “whether any matters not currently under investigation warrants the opening of an investigation, whether any matters currently under investigation require further resources or further investigation, and whether any matters would merit the appointment of a Special Counsel”. And if they accept his recommendation to open some investigation, Huber may not even be the one to actually conduct the investigation.

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