Lack of Information Fuels Questions About John Durham Probe

Lack of Information Fuels Questions About John Durham Probe

( – FBI officials launched a counterintelligence investigation code-named Crossfire Hurricane on July 31, 2016, to probe reported links between associates of then-presidential candidate Donald Trump and Russian officials as part of an effort to tamper with the 2016 presidential election. That investigation reportedly concluded on May 17, 2017, but the controversy surrounding its origins lives on today.

In April 2019, then-Attorney General William Barr appointed Connecticut’s United States Attorney John Henry Durham to look into the Crossfire Hurricane’s origins and determine whether or not FBI or intelligence community officials violated any laws during the course of that investigation. Then, in October 2020, Barr changed Durham’s status to that of a special counsel to protect him should then-President Donald Trump lose the upcoming November 2020 presidential election.

Little is known about the status of Durham’s investigation, and there’s every indication the practice of keeping a tight lid on his inquiry will remain in effect until he concludes his probe and submits his written findings. Even then, the likelihood of public access to his eventual report remains a mystery.

There Is Hope Regarding Public Access to Durham’s Final Report

Senators Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Ron Johnson (R-WI) submitted a letter to US Attorney General Merrick Garland on June 29 asking for clarification regarding some of their concerns about Durham’s ongoing investigation.

Among them were concerns regarding the recent appointment of Susan Hennessey to serve in the Justice Department’s National Security Division. The two senators claimed she “expressed a clear partisan bias” against Durham’s investigation.

They asked for an update on the status of Durham’s investigation and when it might be completed. They also asked about Barr’s directive that Durham submit his final report “to the maximum extent possible” in a format suitable for release to the general public.

The Department of Justice Response to Grassley and Johnson Questions

On July 13, Deputy Assistant Attorney General Joe Gaeta responded to Senators Grassley and Johnson’s letter. According to Gaeta, Special Counsel Durham has used his own staff members to conduct his investigation. Additionally, he is “not subject to day-to-day supervision” by officials within the Department of Justice under 28 C.F.R., section 600.7(b), the federal code covering the duties of special counsels.

Gaeta also confirmed AG Garland and other DOJ leadership share the senators’ commitment to ensuring Durham’s investigation proceeds with “fairness, independence, and impartiality” of the Justice Department and its employees.

Deputy Assistant Gaeta declined to address the senators’ questions regarding the status and possible completion date of Durham’s investigation. Instead, he explained the Justice Department could not comment on the investigation due to its ongoing status.

Gaeta responded, “The [Justice] Department agrees with this statement” with regard to Barr’s directive that Durham’s final report should be formatted for “public dissemination” to the “maximum” possible extent.

So far, Durham’s investigation has resulted in the conviction of an FBI lawyer for doctoring an email. However, the contents of his final report remain as much a mystery to the American public as it did the day Barr appointed him.

We will keep you updated on the status of Durham’s investigation as more information becomes available.

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