Democratic vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris joined the nine other Democratic members of the Senate Judiciary Committee in calling upon Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz to investigate U.S. Attorney John Durham’s inquiry into the Russia investigation.
“We write to request that you investigate whether U.S. Attorney John Durham’s investigation complies with Department of Justice policies, including policies that protect criminal investigations from political influence,” Harris and her Senate colleagues wrote to Horowitz in a two-page letter on Thursday. “The Department’s mission ‘to ensure fair and impartial administration of justice for all Americans’ requires that its prosecutorial decisions be insulated from political influence. To that end, longstanding rules restrain Department personnel from publicly commenting on public investigations, taking actions that may affect an upcoming election, and communicating with the White House about ongoing criminal investigations.”
The Justice Department and DOJ watchdog’s office did not immediately respond to the Washington Examiner’s request for comment, nor did Republican Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham.
Attorney General William Barr recently denied that he is being pressured by President Trump in his handling of Durham’s inquiry and claimed that any actions taken won’t affect the 2020 election. Barr has stressed that the Durham review will abide by Justice Department guidelines and has repeatedly said that despite urging from Trump, former President Barack Obama and former Vice President Joe Biden, who is now the 2020 Democratic presidential nominee, are not under criminal investigation.
Senate Democrats cited “recent reports” that “suggest” that Barr and other Trump administration officials are “violating these longstanding rules.” The senators specifically cited a recent Hartford Courier report, which has sources who said that Nora Dannehy, a longtime federal prosecutor who had been serving as a key member of Durham’s team, resigned from the Justice Department, in part, over concerns that Durham “is being pressed for political reasons to produce a report before its work is done” prior to November’s presidential contest. The Democrats also pointed to Barr’s comments in August that “there are going to be developments, significant developments, before the election” in Durham’s inquiry.
In what has been dubbed the “Obamagate” controversy, Trump’s supporters believe top officials in the Obama administration sought to sabotage Trump’s candidacy in 2016 and later his presidency, and many of them have called for indictments. Democrats have warned of a possible politicized “October surprise.”
Harris and her colleagues pointed to September comments from White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, slightly misquoting him by claiming that he “recently told the press that he had seen documents related to the Durham investigation that ‘spell trouble’ for Obama-era officials.” Meadows had told Fox Business that “additional documents that I’ve been able to review say that a number of the players, the Peter Strzoks, the Andy McCabes, the James Comeys, and even others in the administration previously, are in real trouble because of their willingness to participate in an unlawful act, and I use the word unlawful at best. It broke all kinds of protocols, and, at worst, people should go to jail, as I mentioned previously.”
“These actions suggest that the Durham investigation is being misled for partisan political purposes and undermine the legitimacy of any investigative steps Mr. Durham takes. In addition, it remains unclear what rules and authority permit the public release of a ‘report’ by U.S. Attorney Durham, raising additional concerns about the legitimacy of his appointment and work,” the Democrats wrote to Horowitz. “We therefore request that your office investigate whether the Durham investigation has operated consistent with Department rules governing the appointment of U.S. Attorney’s and the Department’s rules on public statements concerning pending investigations, taking action that may impact an upcoming election, and White House – Department communications concerning pending criminal investigations.”
Horowitz’s December report criticized the Justice Department and the FBI for at least 17 “significant errors and omissions” related to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act warrants against Page and for the bureau’s reliance on the Democratic-funded discredited dossier compiled by British ex-spy Christopher Steele. Declassified footnotes from Horowitz’s report indicated that the bureau became aware that Steele’s dossier might have been compromised by Russian disinformation, and FBI interviews showed Steele’s primary subsource undercut the credibility of the dossier.
Barr has said the two main goals of Durham’s investigation are sussing out the truth and exploring possible criminal charges. Only one person, Kevin Clinesmith, has been indicted in Durham’s inquiry so far. The former FBI lawyer, who played a role in both the investigation into former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s improper private email server and the Russia investigation, pleaded guilty to a false statements charge for fraudulently altering a CIA email to state that former Trump campaign associate Carter Page was “not a source,” when he had, in fact, been an operational contact for the agency.
The attorney general said that Durham is investigating how the FBI’s inquiry, code-named Crossfire Hurricane, was opened. The FBI’s counterintelligence investigation into ties between Trump’s 2016 campaign and Russia was wrapped into special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, which concluded in April 2019 that Russia interfered in 2016 in a “sweeping and systematic fashion” but “did not establish” any criminal conspiracy between Russia and Trump’s campaign.
Horowitz concluded in December that the FBI’s investigation had “sufficient factual predication,” but Barr and Durham both stated that they disagreed.
“Based on the evidence collected to date, and while our investigation is ongoing, last month we advised the inspector general that we do not agree with some of the report’s conclusions as to predication and how the FBI case was opened,” Durham said in a rare statement last year.
Author: Jerry Dunleavy
Source: Washington Examiner: Kamala Harris calls for inspector general investigation of John Durham’s Russia inquiry