The Office of the Inspector General (OIG) for the U.S. Department of Justice announced on Wednesday that the OIG will conduct a review of Justice Department and Federal Bureau of Investigation practices related to complying with legal requirements related to applications they filed with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) "relating to a certain U.S. person".
He announced Thursday the U.S. Attorney for Utah John Huber has been investigating the claims.
But Wednesday's move from the inspector general is also not likely to tamp down the criticism coming from Republicans on Capitol Hill, where there have been numerous calls for Sessions - or Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein - to appoint a second special counsel to investigate possible FISA abuse. More recently they've sought a special counsel to study perceived bias in the FBI and Justice Department during its probe of Hillary Clinton's emails and the Russian Federation investigation.
Sessions also in August said that he was reviewing the Justice Department's policy on issuing subpoenas to reporters.
The Republican chairmen of House and Senate committees - Virginia Rep.
Sessions added that he might consider a special counsel if Huber finds that "any matters merit the appointment".
Huber, an Obama administration holdover re-nominated to serve as Utah's top federal prosecutor, will conduct a "full, complete and objective evaluation" of Republican concerns and submit recommendations, Sessions said.
For months, Sessions has tried to straddle the line between adhering to the high bar set forth in Justice Department regulations for appointing a special counsel in "extraordinary cases" on the one hand - and the persistent demands for one raised by some vocal Republicans, including members of the President's legal team, on the other. Trump, who has criticized his attorney general over Twitter several times, will presumably also take issue with Sessions' decision.
Chuck Grassley - recently pressed Sessions to go beyond an inspector general's investigation, arguing the DOJ watchdog does not have the ability to investigate outside the walls of DOJ and FBI.
Huber's review covers a wide range of issues that Republicans have complained about since past year, from how the FBI handled investigations related to Hillary Clinton, to claims that the FBI made missteps when it sought a warrant to conduct surveillance on a former adviser to Donald Trump's 2016 election campaign.
"If the AG orders you to open an investigation, and you are the DOJ IG, you may have no choice", he said. Federal prosecutors said victor gave a top-secret National Security Agency document to a news organization. Attorney General Jeff Sessions said he referred the matter to the inspector general's office.
"It is a shame that the Inspector General has to devote resources to investigate a conspiracy theory as fact-free, openly political, and thoroughly debunked as the President's so-called 'FISA abuse, ' " Nadler said in a statement.