Earlier today, Democrat Leaders of House Committees released a letter sent by them to Department of Justice Inspector General Michael Horowitz, asking him to initiate an “emergency” investigation of the Durham investigation because …. well, I’m not sure what their justification is.
If, as is reported, it’s over the suggestion that Attorney General Barr has asked Durham to produce an interim report prior to the election, that claim is going nowhere.
The IG is not a “super-supervisor” of all things DOJ, including the Attorney General. If he was he’d be … the Attorney General.
But the IG does review compliance with explicit DOJ policies, and the review the Democrats seem to be calling for is likely to end with the actual text of the policy they think the AG is preparing to “violate” by calling for an interim report.
According to the Washington Examiner:
The six-page Friday letter, signed by Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler of New York, Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff of California, Oversight Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney, and House Administration Chairwoman Zoe Lofgren, followed a Thursday letter led by Democratic vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris along with nine other Democratic members of the Senate Judiciary Committee urging Horowitz to audit the investigation by Barr and Durham into the origins of the Trump-Russia inquiry and the conduct of law enforcement and intelligence officials during that investigation.
Acc0rding to the letter:
We are concerned by indications that Attorney General Barr might depart from longstanding DOJ principles to take public action related to U.S. Attorney Durham’s investigation that could impact the presidential election. Under longstanding DOJ policy, the Attorney General is expected to refrain from commenting on an ongoing investigation. Attorney General Barr and U.S. Attorney Durham have made several public comments that could violate this Department policy and related guidelines.
I wrote an earlier story on this subject.
This “inquiry” is going exactly nowhere because the DOJ policy that Democrats think blocks what AG Barr is asking for explicitly allows him to do what they are suggesting he might do — inform the public about DOJ activity on a subject of significant public interest.
Here is the text of the policy from the DOJ Manual on Federal Prosecutions:
1-7.000 — CONFIDENTIALITY AND MEDIA CONTACTS POLICY
1-7.001 – Purpose
The Department of Justice (DOJ) Confidentiality and Media Contacts Policy (the Policy) applies to all DOJ personnel, including employees, contractors, detailees, and task force partners.
The Policy governs the protection and release of information that DOJ personnel obtain in the course of their work, and it balances four primary interests: (1) an individual’s right to a fair trial or adjudicative proceeding; (2) an individual’s interest in privacy; (3) the government’s ability to administer justice and promote public safety; and (4) the right of the public to have access to information about the Department of Justice.
The Policy provides internal guidance only and does not create any rights enforceable in law or otherwise. DOJ components may promulgate more specific policies, consistent with and subject to this Policy.
Here is a second important provision that addresses the issue of allowing public comment on ongoing investigations:
1-7.400 – Disclosure of Information Concerning Ongoing Criminal, Civil, or Administrative Investigations
A. Any communication by DOJ personnel with a member of the media relating to a pending investigation or case must be approved in advance by the appropriate United States Attorney or Assistant Attorney General…
B. DOJ generally will not confirm the existence of or otherwise comment about ongoing investigations….
C. When the community needs to be reassured that the appropriate law enforcement agency is investigating a matter, or where release of information is necessary to protect the public safety, comments about or confirmation of an ongoing investigation may be necessary, subject to the approval requirement in subparagraph A.
So, that “policy” the Democrats believe prevents public comment actually allows for public comment “When the community needs to be reassured….”
Democrats simply fail to understand that millions of people who voted for Pres. Trump in 2016 have a significant interest in knowing what has been learned about the efforts by government officials — law enforcement and intelligence agency officials — to prevent his election, and then to derail or impede his administration after he won the election in 2016. Durham’s investigation has been ongoing for nearly 18 months. He has amassed a significant body of evidence on the back of the IG investigation reflected in the 500-page report on “Four FISAs”.
Compare the position of the Democrats in resisting the public disclosure of this information against the demand of Harry Reid in a letter dated Oct. 30, 2016, when he wrote to then FBI Dir. Jim Comey demanding that Comey make public the evidence of the then early-stage investigation of the Trump Campaign and Russia.
“In my communications with you and other top officials of the National Security Community, it has become clear that you possess explosive information about the close ties and coordination between Donald Trump, his top advisors, and the Russian Government… The public has a right to know this information. I wrote to you months ago calling for this information to be released to the public.”
That demand from Harry Reid came only 9 days after the Carter Page FISA warrant had been obtained, and less than 10 weeks since the investigation known as Crossfire Hurricane had begun in earnest. There was no solid evidence at that point of anything improper or illegal having been done by anyone in the Trump campaign — other than what Christopher Steele wrote in his memos.
Donald Trump was a private citizen, and there was no suggestion in Reid’s letter than anything Trump might have done which the FBI was aware of was a crime. Yet, Democrat Majority Leader Harry Reid was demanding a public airing of all that information two weeks before the election.
Any Durham report, on the other hand, would be the product of 18 months’ work by Durham and his investigation team. It would not be concerning the actions of private citizens, but rather DOJ and Intelligence Community actors and agents — and maybe foreign governments as well. It would be a report not only on what DOJ is doing now to address past events, but it would also address what DOJ actors themselves did in the past that was misconduct or worse.
The fact that the events took place during the Obama Administration is irrelevant — they took place when they took place, and that is not the fault of the Attorney General or Durham.
The Democrats understand that their protests are going to fall on deaf ears when it comes to Barr’s decision to make public some/all of any interim report that Durham produces. The gambit here is a hope that someone the IG can “block” any such effort.
That is not going to happen. The fact that they would make such a patently absurd effort only exposes the level of their desperation.