Latest News 16-05-2024 00:02 4 Views

Johnson floats defunding special counsel’s office amid Jack Smith’s Trump probe

Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., floated the possibility of defunding the U.S. Office of Special Counsel on Wednesday, the day after he pledged to 'rein in' Special Counsel Jack Smith's investigation into former President Trump.

'There's a lot of different ideas. People are alarmed that the special counsel, in that capacity, has been abused in recent years,' Johnson said in answer to a Fox News Digital question at his weekly press conference. 'How does Congress correct that error and ensure that a special counsel is not abusing their authority? You know, we have oversight, of course, we also have the power of the purse.'

Johnson became the highest ranking congressional lawmaker to support Trump in person Tuesday at the Manhattan courthouse, where the former president is facing a criminal trial related to accusations that he falsified business documents to cover up hush money payments to adult film star Stormy Daniels ahead of the 2016 election. 

That trial is unrelated to Smith's probes into Trump in connection with the 2020 election and his handling of classified documents, but Johnson lambasted those investigations as well in comments to reporters after his court attendance.

He pledged on Tuesday, 'I'm working with Chairman [Jim] Jordan of the House Judiciary Committee and Chairman [James] Comer of our Oversight Committee on measures to rein in the abuses of Special Counsel Jack Smith.'

Asked by Fox News Digital on Wednesday what that looked like, Johnson said, 'There's a lot of different ideas being discussed now on what that would look like. Do you defund the entire Special Counsel's Office?'

'What most people don't realize is that is not funded in the regular appropriations process. It's a separate, distinct account, and it's effectively…funded autopilot,' Johnson said.

He said House Republicans would continue 'actively discussing' various avenues to hold Smith accountable 'even today.'

It's not the first time Johnson has criticized Smith's investigations or dismissed them as political operations. 

But his comments on Wednesday came after he poured cold water on calls to take Smith's funding away in a Politico interview last week.

'That’s not something you wave a wand and just eliminate the special counsel as a provision,' Johnson told the outlet. 'There is a necessity for a function like that, because sometimes the Department of Justice – which is an executive branch agency – can’t necessarily, without a conflict of interest, investigate or prosecute the president who’s their boss, or the president’s family.'

When reached for comment on the different statements, Johnson's office referred Fox News Digital back to the speaker's comments in the press conference and to a recent X post when he pledged to 'rein in' Smith.

Fox News Digital also reached out to the Justice Department for comment.


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