House Dems call for an ’emergency’ DOJ watchdog review of Durham probe
Four House committee chairs are asking the Justice Department’s top watchdog to open an “emergency” review of Attorney General William Barr’s handling of an investigation into the origins of the FBI’s Trump-Russia probe,
questioning whether that probe — led by U.S. Attorney John Durham — is complying with DOJ rules intended to avoid influencing an imminent election.
“We are concerned by indications that Attorney General Barr might depart from longstanding DOJ principles,
And to take public action related to U.S. Attorney Durham’s investigation that could impact the presidential election,”
Wrote House Judiciary Chair Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.), House Oversight Chair Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.),
House Intelligence Chair Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), and House Administration Chair Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) in a six-page letter to Inspector General Michael Horowitz.
The four chairs say Barr’s public comments on the Durham probe may already be a violation of DOJ policies,
Prohibiting public comments on an ongoing investigation, and they say his conduct may also violate the IG’s own 2018 recommendations,
About avoiding taking politically sensitive steps less than two months before the Nov. 3 election.
President Donald Trump has sought more prosecutions related to Durham’s probe, and has called for FBI and intelligence officials he views as his political enemies to be punished.
The Democrats are asking Horowitz to expedite a review of various aspects of Barr’s comments and Durham’s review.
Among them: Whether Barr’s public commentary complies with DOJ policy and the 2018 inspector general report;
Whether DOJ has implemented Horowitz’s earlier recommendations on politically sensitive investigations;
If a Durham report issued before the election would comply with department policies;
Whether Durham has the legal authority to be conducting his probe, including a formal scope memo;
And whether Durham is permitted to issue a public report about anyone who hasn’t been charged with a crime.
Senate Democrats sought a similar probe in a letter to Horowitz on Thursday.
Barr has rejected the notion that any findings issued by Durham ahead of the election would inappropriately influence the campaign.
He has argued that DOJ practices prohibit such steps but only if they are aimed at candidates themselves or their very close associates.
Barr has publicly indicated that the Durham probe does not contemplate investigating former Vice President,
And Democratic nominee Joe Biden or former President Barack Obama.
He has at times publicly characterized potentially explosive findings in Durham’s investigation,
But has denied that there’s political pressure to move it quickly.
Last week, a top Durham aide and long-serving federal prosecutor, Nora Dannehy,
Resigned from the DOJ amid a push from the president to publish the results of the probe before the election.