Tuesday, 14 May 2019

Federal Attorney Experienced in Investigating Law Enforcement Misdeeds Tapped to Investigate Origins of Russia-Trump Investigations

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John Durham, U.S. attorney in Connecticut, has been tasked by Attorney General William Barr to investigate the origins of the Russia investigation, which has consumed all of the Trump presidency to this point. Durham (shown) appears tailor-made for such an investigation, since he has broad experience in investigating alleged misdeeds by national security officials, including the FBI and the CIA.

Two other inquiries are on-going into the potential wrong-doing by officials within the FBI and other federal intelligence agencies in their dogged investigations of the Trump campaign. One is led by the inspector general, Michael Horowitz, who is conducting an inquiry into the possibility that wiretap applications from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court were obtained illegally, via lying to the FISA court. Horowitz’s inquiry is also looking into what role, if any, political bias played in the requests for the warrants.

A separate investigation is being conducted by John Huber, the U.S. attorney in Utah.

Finally, Senator Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee, promises to lead his own probe into what motivated the investigations launched in the last months of the administration of President Barack Obama, a Democrat, against the nominee of the Republican Party, Donald Trump.

Durham’s investigative experience should concern those who may have used the Justice Department, the FBI, and other resources of the federal government to attempt to smear Trump, even to the point of driving him from office. Durham has been with the Justice Department since 1982, serving with distinction in both Republican and Democratic administrations. In 1999, then-Attorney General Janet Reno (under Democrat President Bill Clinton) selected Durham to investigate the handling by the FBI of crime boss James (Whitey) Bulger, an official informant for the FBI.

To maintain Bulger’s “cover” Robert Mueller, then with the FBI, allowed four men — later declared innocent by a federal judge — to remain in prison, two until their deaths. Two were released after a federal judge vacated their sentences, and the families successfully sued the federal government, collecting a judgment in the neighborhood of $100 million.

Then, in 2008, Attorney General Michael Mukasey (under Republican President George W. Bush) asked Durham to investigate the destruction of videotapes by the CIA in 2005, which documented the torture of terrorism suspects. The next attorney general, Eric Holder, an Obama appointee, kept Durham in that role, and asked him to consider whether the CIA broke federal laws in its abuses of detainees.

During congressional testimony, Attorney General Barr testified that he believed “spying did occur” against the Trump campaign. “The question is whether it was adequately predicated. And I’m not suggesting that it wasn’t adequately predicated. But I need to explore that.”

Now that Barr has followed through with that promise, it is expected that Democrats will step up their campaign to discredit him, calling him “Trump’s lawyer” and other such accusations, alleging that Barr is prejudiced in favor of the president.

According to the report issued by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, the FBI opened its investigation, acting upon information that George Papadopoulos, a minor official within the Trump campaign. The report says that Papadopoulos had told an Australian diplomat over drinks (they just “happened” to meet in a bar in London) that he had heard that Russians had hacked emails belonging to the Clinton campaign and the Democrats. What many media outlets neglect to add is that Papadopoulos had heard that from FBI operatives! Trump supporters allege that the entire Russian “collusion” story was a set-up to undermine the Trump campaign — and later his presidency — begun at the top levels of the Obama Administration.

After several months of an investigation that included almost 3,000 subpoenas, nearly 500 search warrants, and approximately 500 witness interviews, Mueller’s report concluded that there was no collusion between anyone in the Trump campaign and anyone in the Russian government.

Barr has said that he expects the investigation of the inspector general to wrap up this month or in early June. It is not clear when the other two investigations launched by the Department of Justice under either Barr or former Attorney General Jeff Sessions will conclude. But to prevent a repeat of what Trump, his family, his associates, and the country have been put through since 2016, we hope all of those who have abused their oaths of office will soon be dragged before the bar of justice.

Photo of John H. Durham: U.S. Department of Justice

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