U.S. Attorney John Durham may decide to wait until after the 2020 presidential election to make his conclusions public or to announce any criminal charges despite pressure to finish by the end of the summer, according to a new report.
Durham, who was picked by Attorney General William Barr last year to conduct an inquiry into the origins and conduct of the Trump-Russia investigation, may end up waiting until after November to reveal what he has found or to hand down indictments, according to sources cited by Fox News, who said the federal prosecutor from Connecticut is trying to wrap up his inquiry by the end of the summer but hasn’t yet finished multiple strands of the investigation.
“He believes it’s critical to do them,” one source said of Durham. “He is feeling more pressure to get this done and wrapped up.”
The source also said that Durham “does not want this to be viewed political” and that if the investigation continues to drag out closer to the November presidential contest, then he might “punt it to after the election.”
Sen. Chuck Grassley, the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee and a longtime critic of the Trump-Russia investigations, warned Monday that waiting until after November’s contest might be too late.
“#CommonSense. IF NO PROSECUTIONS TIL AFTER ELECTIONS SAD SAD,” the Iowa Republican tweeted, telling President Trump to think about the case against retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, the actions taken by special counsel Robert Mueller, and the Ukraine-related impeachment effort that ended with Trump’s acquittal by the Republican-held Senate in February.
“The deep state is so deep that people get away with political crimes,” Grassley wrote. “Durham should be producing some fruit of his labor.”
Some critics of the Durham investigation have raised concerns about there being an “October surprise.”
Attorney General William Barr said in May that Durham, who is investigating misconduct by federal law enforcement and intelligence officials, will likely not conduct a criminal inquiry into former President Barack Obama or former Vice President Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee.
“There’s a difference between an abuse of power and a federal crime. Not every abuse of power, no matter how outrageous, is necessarily a federal crime,” Barr said during a press conference. “Now, as to President Obama and Vice President Biden, whatever their level of involvement, based on the information I have today, I don’t expect Mr. Durham’s work will lead to a criminal investigation of either man. Our concern over potential criminality is focused on others.”
The attorney general previously confirmed that Durham’s investigation includes a deep dive into the 2017 intelligence community assessment on Russian interference during the 2016 election, and Durham is reportedly looking into whether former CIA Director John Brennan took politicized actions to pressure the rest of the intelligence community to match his conclusions about Russian President Vladimir Putin’s motivations. Durham is also examining whether the Crossfire Hurricane investigation was properly predicated, even after the Department of Justice inspector general said it was justified. Durham is additionally looking into alleged surveillance abuses, the unmasking controversy, and potentially criminal classified leaks.
Barr told Fox News in June that he expects there to be “developments” in Durham’s investigation into the Russia investigation this summer even as he hinted that it would continue through the November election.
The FBI’s counterintelligence investigation into the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia, code-named Crossfire Hurricane, began in the summer of 2016. It was later wrapped into Robert Mueller’s special counsel investigation, which concluded that Russia interfered in 2016 in a “sweeping and systematic fashion” but “did not establish” any criminal conspiracy between the Russians and the Trump campaign.
DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz’s December report criticized the Justice Department and the FBI for at least 17 “significant errors and omissions” related to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act warrants against Trump campaign associate Carter Page in 2016 and 2017 and for the bureau’s reliance on British ex-spy Christopher Steele’s dossier. Steele worked at the behest of the opposition research firm Fusion GPS, funded by Clinton’s campaign and the Democratic National Committee through the Perkins Coie law firm.
Recently declassified footnotes showed that the FBI was aware that Steele’s dossier may have been compromised by Russian disinformation.