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GOP Rep. Darrell Issa Says Special Prosecutor Needed in Russia Probe

Issa said that Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who supported Trump and is an appointee, is too close to the president to lead an investigation.
Darrell Issa
This Sept. 30, 2014 file photo shows now-former House Oversight Committee Chairman Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif. during a hearing on Capitol Hill.AP

A prominent Republican Congressman said a special prosecutor should be appointed in an investigation into alleged Russian interference in the election and whether anyone on President Donald Trump's campaign had contacts with Russian officials.

Rep. Darrell Issa, R-California, said on "Real Time with Bill Maher" Friday that the Senate and House intelligence committees should investigate, and said Attorney Jeff Sessions can’t lead the probe without appearing compromised.

"You're right that you cannot have somebody, a friend of mine, Jeff Sessions who was on the campaign and who is an appointee," Issa said. "You’re going to need to use the special prosecutor's statute and office."

Issa, who supported Trump, cautioned that "there may or may not be fault" uncovered. But he said it would not be enough for Sessions to recuse himself and assign the matter to a deputy, because "that's another political appointee."

Issa, former chairman of the House Oversight Committee, said Russian President Vladimir Putin "murders his enemies."

Related: Majority Say Congress Should Probe Contact Between Trump Team and Russia: Poll

U.S. intelligence agencies have alleged that the Russian government was involved in an operation to try and interfere with the U.S. presidential election, which intelligence agencies have said evolved into an effort to help Trump win.

Darrell Issa
This Sept. 30, 2014 file photo shows now-former House Oversight Committee Chairman Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif. during a hearing on Capitol Hill.AP

Trump has denied that anyone on his campaign had any contacts with Russian officials during the campaign. At a news conference last week, the president said: "I have nothing to do with Russia. To the best of my knowledge, no person that I deal with does."

There have been some calls in Congress for investigations into allegations of Russian interference in the election, and about conversations former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn had with Russia’s ambassador, before Trump took office, in which sanctions were reportedly discussed.

Related: Here’s How Congress is Handling Russia Investigations

Flynn resigned on Feb. 13. Trump last week said he didn’t believe Flynn did anything wrong in talking with the ambassador, but that he fired Flynn because he misled Vice President Mike Pence about the content of the conversations.

The Senate Intelligence Committee opened its probe into alleged Russian interference in the election in January, and the House Intelligence Committee is also investigating.

But some Democrats have accused Republicans of focusing on leaks to the media about Flynn rather than the contacts.

The top Republicans of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee and the Judiciary Committee last week sent a letter to the Department of Justice inspector general regarding "potential inadequate protection of classified information."