OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.
An Obama-era spokesman for the Department of Justice believes that Special Counsel John Durham should not get the final say over his own report. Matthew Miller — who served as the director of the Department of Justice’s public affairs office between 2009 and 2011 — said that Attorney General Merrick Garland, or another high-ranking official within the department, should review the report before it is shared with Americans, the New York Times reported.
“His cases are over. I think it’s clear that he’s not going to bring any more charges in this investigation, but one of the requirements for special counsels under the regulations is that they write a confidential report and submit it to the attorney general, and the attorney general then makes a decision whether to release that report to the public,” he said.
He said that the report should be handled the way former Attorney General Bill Barr handled the information in the report of former Special Counsel Robert Mueller.
“I think Merrick Garland will be under a lot of pressure from Republicans to release that report, but I have to say, this circumstance is very different from the Mueller investigation, where, obviously, the attorney general, Bill Barr, did release that report,” the former spokesman said.
“It’s different because in that case, the subject of that investigation could not be charged, and so it was appropriate for the department to make its findings public, so Congress could decide whether to impeach and convict the then-sitting president,” he said. “That is not the case here, so to release a report in this instance — given what we know about the way that Durham has behaved, some of his inappropriate public statements during this investigation, the poor judgments he has made in bringing these charges — to release a report publicly and let him have the final word I think probably unfairly tarnish some people at the FBI that we know he holds ill will to based on some of the things he said in this most recent trial.”
“He can ignore the pressure if he wants to ignore it. What he wouldn’t be able to ignore is a subpoena from Congress. So if the House does change hands, and the Republicans control a committee, they will undoubtedly send a subpoena for this report, and he would eventually have to turn it over,” he said.
“But it does not have to be the last word. Lots of times in the past — there’s ample precedent for this — when reports like this have been written by the Justice Department, the leadership decides whether that actually reflects their view,” he said. “John Durham does not get to be the final arbiter of what the Justice Department believes, so it would be appropriate for Merrick Garland to either review it and come up with his conclusions or, maybe more appropriately, refer it to the senior career official as has been done in the past and let that individual review it and decide whether he believes the conclusions John Durham has drawn, conclusions which we know at least in two public cases have been rejected by juries, are the conclusions that the Justice Department in its considered wisdom actually agrees with and wants to let stand before the public.”
The U.S. Department of Justice suggested that when Durham finishes his investigation into the origins of the Trump-Russia probe, his report will likely be made public.
Republican Sens. Chuck Grassley of Iowa and Ron Johnson of Wisconsin sent a letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland demanding answers about Durham’s investigation.
Deputy Assistant Attorney General Joe Gaeta sent a letter back saying that he could not comment on Durham’s ongoing investigation or its status.
However, that’s not all.
The GOP Senators stated in their letter that back in October 2020, then-Attorney General Bill Barr wrote that: “The Special Counsel, to the maximum extent possible and consistent with the law and policies and practices of the Department of Justice, shall submit to the Attorney General a final report, and such interim reports as he deems appropriate, in a form that will permit public dissemination.”
In his response letter, Gaeta wrote, “The Department agrees with this statement.”