There has been a lot of speculation that U.S. Attorney John Durham will hold off on releasing the results of his investigation into spying on the Trump campaign until after the election to avoid accusations of political interference. However, sources who have worked with Durham on public corruption cases in the past have said they doubt he will yield to political pressure, with some believing he may even drop a few bombshells before Labor Day.
This is supported by the words of Attorney General William Barr, who refused to rule out the possibility of a pre-election release of information. Citing a long-standing policy by the Justice Department not to announce any new developments in politically sensitive cases prior to an election, Representative Debbie Mucarsel-Powell (D-Fla.) asked Barr if he would commit to not releasing any reports by Durham ahead of the election. In response, he simply stated, “No.”
Because that policy bars prosecutors from taking big steps in this type of case within 60 days of an election, Durham has until the Friday before Labor Day to make a move outside of this window. So far, Durham has been pretty quiet about his investigation into the Russiagate investigation of President Trump and his 2016 campaign. This has prompted lots of speculation regarding who could be prosecuted and when action might be taken.
Because the probe involves the Trump administration as well as high-level officials from the previous administration, including former Vice President Joe Biden, the consequences of the investigation could be significant. Notes that were recently declassified by the FBI show that Biden provided input in the investigation of Trump adviser Michael Flynn.
At the center of the case is government spying on the Trump campaign during the 2016 election and whether or not that surveillance was justified or was simply done to smear Trump’s campaign and, later, his presidency. Durham’s investigation is also looking into the potential role of the CIA and whether it monitored Trump advisers overseas or broke laws restricting spying on American citizens.
Should Durham release a report that indicates widespread corruption or seek a criminal indictment or plea agreements involving former officials from the Obama-Biden administration, it could turn voters away from Biden. If the news is postponed until after the election, on the other hand, it could dishearten Trump’s base.
Former assistant FBI Director Chris Swecker, who has worked with Durham on past investigations, said: “I would find it hard to believe that he punts under any circumstances.”
He added that delaying the work until after the election might risk throwing away 16 months’ worth of investigations. Should Biden be elected, Durham’s work would essentially be canceled out as the new president would likely replace Barr and Durham. However, if the reports and potential indictments are made public ahead of the election, a potential Biden administration would be in the position where they have to take further action or close the probe down and make themselves look even more corrupt.
“John knows this, and I fully expect he will take action before the election,” Swecker said.
He also believes that any action taken by Durham will extend beyond a report. In fact, he is expecting criminal charges to be announced. He said that Durham is not “squeamish” when it comes to bringing indictments and thinks the case would have been closed by now had crimes not been uncovered. He also pointed to a lack of media leaks from Durham’s office as more evidence that a serious corruption case is in the works.
The Attorney General has said that Obama and Biden are not targets in the case, but some experts believe that former FBI lawyer Kevin Clinesmith may be one focus of the investigation for his role in doctoring an email used to gain surveillance approval for former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page. A leak of sensitive information to a columnist from the Washington Post about conversations involving Trump National Security Adviser Michael Flynn and the Russian ambassador may also be an area of interest in the investigation.
Trump told Fox Business that he heard the information Durham has uncovered in the investigation is “breathtaking” and will show he was maliciously targeted by the Obama administration.
Democrats appear to be quite worried about this investigation, and Barr’s recent refusal to commit to not releasing Durham’s report ahead of the election indicates that we could well get some answers within the next few weeks.
Sources for this article include: