By Sarah N. Lynch
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions revealed that Utah's top federal prosecutor is investigating a variety of Republican allegations of misconduct at the Justice Department and Federal Bureau of Investigation, according to a letter to lawmakers released on Thursday.
However, Sessions stopped short of appointing a second special counsel, despite repeated requests by Republican lawmakers to do so, saying he wanted to wait for the results of the review from John Huber, the U.S. Attorney for the District of Utah.
Democrats in Congress have repeatedly criticized Republican requests for a special counsel, saying they are merely a tactic to distract from and undermine Special Counsel Robert Mueller's ongoing probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election.
Huber's review covers a wide range of issues that Republicans have complained about since last 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.
Sessions' announcement on Huber comes just one day after the Justice Department's inspector general revealed that he too would be reviewing whether the FBI and Justice Department followed the law when they applied for the surveillance warrant on Carter Page, who briefly served as a national security adviser to Trump's campaign.
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A Justice Department spokesman said Huber first began investigating various claims in the fall of 2017.
"Mr. Huber is conducting his work from outside the Washington, D.C. area and in cooperation with the inspector general," Sessions wrote to Senator Charles Grassley, Congressman Bob Goodlatte and Congressman Trey Gowdy, who all chair committees that are conducting probes into alleged FBI abuses.
He added: "I receive regular updates from Mr. Huber and upon the conclusion of his review, will receive recommendations as to whether ... any matters merit the appointment of a Special Counsel."
(Reporting by Sarah N. Lynch; editing by Grant McCool and Tom Brown)