Today’s Campaign Update
(Because The Campaign Never Ends)
Who is John Durham and why should you care? – Good question, and certainly not one I’d ever thought about before last night. That was when the New York Times published an article that appears to be actually true – who’d ‘a thunk it? – containing the news that Attorney General William Barr has appointed Mr. Durham, the U.S. Attorney from Connecticut, to oversee the origins of the Obama Administration’s multi-faceted spying operation targeting the Trump Campaign
Here’s an excerpt from that piece:
WASHINGTON — Attorney General William P. Barr has assigned the top federal prosecutor in Connecticut to examine the origins of the Russia investigation, according to two people familiar with the matter, a move that President Trump has long called for but that could anger law enforcement officials who insist that scrutiny of the Trump campaign was lawful.
John H. Durham, the United States attorney in Connecticut, has a history of serving as a special prosecutor investigating potential wrongdoing among national security officials, including the F.B.I.’s ties to a crime boss in Boston and accusations of C.I.A. abuses of detainees.
His inquiry is the third known investigation focused on the opening of an F.B.I. counterintelligence investigation during the 2016 presidential campaign into possible ties between Russia’s election interference and Trump associates.
The department’s inspector general, Michael E. Horowitz, is separately examining investigators’ use of wiretap applications and informants and whether any political bias against Mr. Trump influenced investigative decisions. And John W. Huber, the United States attorney in Utah, has been reviewing aspects of the Russia investigation. His findings have not been announced.
Additionally on Capitol Hill, Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina and chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, has said he, too, intends to review aspects of law enforcement’s work in the coming months. And Republicans conducted their own inquiries when they controlled the House, including publicizing details of the F.B.I.’s wiretap use.
Lots to unpack here.
First, if you’re worried that the assignment of the investigation to Durham is just another head-fake/delaying tactic by a corrupt Justice Department, that concern is well-founded given all the previous head-fakes and delaying tactics we’ve seen over the past couple of years. After all, a full year and a half has gone by since feckless former AG Jeff Sessions said he was assigning Salt Lake City U.S. Attorney John Huber to conduct an investigation into many aspects of the Russia Collusion fantasy, and we have yet to hear boo out of him or see any real indication he’s done a damn thing in that regard.
But of course, that was Jeff Sessions and now we have William Barr in the AG job. Hopefully, that makes a difference. Barr was always going to assign this investigation to someone under his supervision – it was either that or appoint another special counsel to do it, and assigning it to a U.S. Attorney gives Barr fuller control over the direction of the process. That’s either a good or a bad thing depending entirely on what Barr’s real intentions are.
Barr has certainly given us every indication he is a real AG focused on enforcing the rule of law and bringing the real bad actors in all of this to justice, which is why we have seen all the Democrats and their media toadies in such a panic in recent weeks. Justice is the last thing those people want to see.
At any rate, any major undertaking like this requires a focal point to lead it, and Durham is Barr’s pick to do it. It is encouraging that Durham was originally brought into the Justice Department during the Reagan Administration in 1982, and was appointed to his current position by Donald Trump in 2017. It is also encouraging that he has not been a creature of the Washington, DC Swamp, serving the majority of his career in Connecticut with a four year period as the Acting U.S. Attorney in the Eastern District of Virginia from 2008-12.
If you’re concerned that this will be another Huber-like year-and-a-half-long head-fake that gets us to the November, 2020 election with nothing to show for it, there is also reason for optimism that that won’t be the case. Given the flurry of self-serving media appearances we have seen from likely suspects like James Comey, James Baker, John Brennan and Sally Yates over the past couple of weeks, it appears likely that the upcoming report on FISA abuse from DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz has been making the rounds and might well contain criminal referrals.
Yeah, Horowitz took a powder on doing that in last year’s report on the FBI’s conduct of the Clinton email investigation, but that was when Sessions was AG. Hopefully, the presence of a real AG will embolden the IG’s office to do the right thing. It’s easier to confront powerful people when you know you have powerful people backing you up.
Let’s say that happens, and let’s recognize that Durham will also be armed with multiple criminal referrals from various congressional committees that have been issued to the Justice Department over the last year. Armed with the results of the multiple Horowitz investigations and all the data accumulated by the congressional investigations over the past two years, Durham should be able to move to the indictment and prosecution phase fairly rapidly if that is his real goal here.
Let’s be painfully honest: We know who the bad actors in all of this really were. The public record already accumulated is crystal clear on this. All that has been lacking to this point is a real Attorney General and a set of diligent prosecutors who were willing to act on behalf of the public interest and uphold the rule of law.
With Rod Rosenstein’s exit from DOJ, the last of the known obstructionists to justice is now gone. Well, except for FBI Director Christopher Wray, anyway. All we the people can do now is wait and pray they haven’t been replaced by a new set of obstructionists.
It won’t take long to figure that out.
That is all.
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