OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.
Senate Democrats are mulling action against special counsel John Durham as he prepares to release an investigative report following his more than two-year probe into the origins of the false ‘Trump-Russia collusion’ narrative.
Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee were responding to a well-timed New York Times report over the weekend claiming that there were ethical concerns during the investigation that led to several staff departures. They included alleged concerns over former Attorney General William Barr’s involvement in the probe, as well as the decision to go to trial lacking sufficient evidence, The Hill reported, adding:
The report also revealed that the Justice Department obscured the nature of the criminal aspect of the probe, failing to disclose that it concerned Trump’s financial dealings rather than misconduct related to the initial investigation into the former president’s ties to Russia.
“These reports about abuses in Special Counsel Durham’s investigation — so outrageous that even his longtime colleagues quit in protest — are but one of many instances where former President Trump and his allies weaponized the Justice Department,” committee Chairman Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) noted in a statement.
“The Justice Department should work on behalf of the American people, not for the personal benefit of any president. As we wait for the results of ongoing internal reviews, the Senate Judiciary Committee will do its part and take a hard look at these repeated episodes, and the regulations and policies that enabled them, to ensure such abuses of power cannot happen again,” he said.
The Hill added:
According to the report, after connecting with Italian officials who denied any involvement in relaying information for the Russian investigation, Barr expanded Durham’s authority to include criminal prosecution powers after receiving a credible tip about possible financial crimes related to Trump.
But Barr’s vague commentary left it unclear that the criminal component of the investigation was not focused on those who initiated the probe of the former president.
In other cases, subordinates questioned Durham’s efforts to gain evidence on the leader of a George Soros-connected organization and Barr’s public comments about the investigation.
“The evidence shows that we are not dealing with just mistakes or sloppiness. There is something far more troubling here,” Barr noted in April 2020.
Last month, then-incoming House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) predicted that Durham would at some point go after the FBI for an alleged role in perpetuating what turned out to be a false narrative about former President Trump and Russia.
Jordan said he is working to expose problems with the Trump-Russia investigation and contended that Durham will finish his investigation with a bang. Jordan noted that Russian-born analyst Igor Danchenko — a key source for the Steele dossier that alleged ties between the Donald Trump campaign and Russia — was arrested as part of the Durham investigation.
The most important allegations made in the Steele dossier — which had connections to Clinton’s 2016 campaign and the law firm Perkins Coie — have not been proven and many have been disputed by the FBI.
“So, these are lies from 2016 and 2017. I think that’s a key distinction. These are indictments from the original lies. This is not a lie. These are the lies that started the whole Russia investigation,” he added.
This week, the U.S. Department of Justice notified Jordan it won’t give his panel access to most of the information he has requested regarding the probe into President Joe Biden’s mishandling of classified and sensitive documents.
In a letter sent to Jordan and GOP Rep. Mike Johnson, Assistant Attorney General Carlos Felipe Uriarte cites a handful of “special rules” governing special counsel probes that bar the Justice Department from releasing such information to the public.
“Your letter also requests non-public information that is central to the ongoing Special Counsel investigation. The Department’s longstanding policy is to maintain the confidentiality of such information regarding open matters. This policy protects the American people’s interest in the evenhanded, dispassionate, and effective administration of justice. Disclosing non-public information about ongoing investigations could violate statutory requirements or court orders, reveal road maps of our investigations, and interfere with the Department’s ability to gather facts, interview witnesses, and bring criminal prosecutions where warranted,” the letter stated.
“The Special Counsel regulations establish procedures for disclosing certain information to Congress at the onset and conclusion of a Special Counsel investigation.” the letter states. “These regulations govern the Department’s conduct in all Special Counsel investigations.”