Over the weekend, Darrell Issa did something that no other Republican congressman has done. Sitting for an interview with HBO’s Bill Maher, the longtime Vista Republican said he believed that a prosecutor needed to investigate Russia’s involvement in the U.S. election and that Atty. Gen. Jeff Sessions, who was involved in President Trump’s campaign, should not be that prosecutor. “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.” He backed that up Monday with a statement calling for a fully independent review of Russian attempts to interfere in the election, saying there is too much speculation and assumption. “An investigation is not the same as an assertion of specific wrongdoing, it’s following the facts where they lead so that American people can know what may or may not have taken place,” Issa said.
It makes him one of the most prominent Republicans in the country to call for an independent investigation into what Russia was trying to do during the election and who knew about it, but the only one to call for a special prosecutor to do it. He added to his statement on Monday in an interview with CBS News, emphasizing that no person is currently under suspicion, which is what would usually prompt calls for a special prosecutor.
Issa’s position still puts him at odds with Republican leaders in the House, Senate and White House, who have said there is no need for an investigation beyond the reviews currently taking place in the House and Senate and have not supported the idea of a special prosecutor.
There are a few reasons he’s taking a stand now. Issa finds himself in a classic electoral problem: The long-serving Republican congressman faced his toughest reelection fight in years in 2016, beating back a challenge by Democrat Doug Applegate by fewer than 2,000 votes. The tight margin, and the fact that the district went narrowly for Clinton, seems to have shaken Issa.