American Attorney General Jeff Sessions is entertaining the idea of appointing a second special counsel to investigate a host of Republican concerns - including alleged wrongdoing by the Clinton Foundation and the controversial sale of a uranium company to Russia - and has directed senior federal prosecutors to explore at least some of the matters and report back to him and his top deputy, according to a letter obtained by The Washington Post.
The revelation came in a response from the Justice Department to an inquiry from House Judiciary Committee Chairman Robert W Goodlatte, who in July and again in September called for Sessions to appoint a second special counsel to investigate concerns he had related to the 2016 election and its aftermath.
The list of matters he wanted probed was wide ranging, but included the FBI's handling of the investigation into Hillary Clinton's use of a private email server while she was secretary of state, various dealings of the Clinton Foundation and several matters connected to the purchase of the Canadian mining company Uranium One by Russia's nuclear energy agency.
Goodlatte took particular aim at former FBI director James B Comey, asking for a second special counsel to evaluate the leaks he directed about his conversations with President Trump, among other things.
In response, Assistant Attorney General Stephen E Boyd wrote that Sessions had "directed senior federal prosecutors to evaluate certain issues raised in your letters".
He wrote that those prosecutors would "report directly to the Attorney General and Deputy Attorney General, as appropriate, and will make recommendations as to whether any matters not currently under investigation should be opened, whether any matters currently under investigation require further resources, or whether any matters merit the appointment of a Special Counsel."
President Trump has repeatedly criticised his Justice Department for not aggressively probing a variety of conservative concerns, saying recently that officials there "should be looking at the Democrats."
Sessions' letter is likely to be seen by some, especially on the left, as an inappropriate bending to political pressure.