A senior Justice Department official has decided to hit the bricks for “personal reasons.”
A Justice Department official who helped oversee the controversial probes of Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server and Russian interference in the 2016 election stepped down this week.
David Laufman, an experienced federal prosecutor who in 2014 became chief of the National Security Division’s Counterintelligence and Export Control Section, said farewell to colleagues Wednesday. He cited personal reasons.
His departure from the high-pressure job comes as President Trump and his Republican allies have stepped up attacks on the Justice Department, the FBI and special counsel Robert S. Mueller III for their handling of the Russia probe.
“It’s tough to leave a mission this compelling and an institution as exceptional as the Department of Justice,” said Laufman, 59. “But I know that prosecutors and agents will continue to bring to their work precisely what the American people should expect: a fierce and relentless commitment to protect the national security of the United States.”
Laufman first came to the general public’s attention in September 2016, when it was revealed that he was a member of the team that interviewed Hillary Clinton, Cheryl Mills and Huma Abedin over their mishandling of classified information.
What we know about Laufman is limited. This is where he fits on the org chart:
— TheLastRefuge (@TheLastRefuge2) February 8, 2018
He was a low-level political appointee under George Bush for about a year. He was an assistant U.S. attorney for about a year. Then he went into private practice. He was a low-level donor to Barack Obama. Here is a brief sketch of his professional life. He and Strzok seem to have had some kind of falling out:
Strzok seemed not to like David Laufman, the DOJ lawyer who he partnered with in interviews with Hillary, Huma, Cheryl Mills, etc. Laufman stepped down at DOJ today for personal reasons. pic.twitter.com/5dy67AMx0O
— Chuck Ross (@ChuckRossDC) February 8, 2018
Meaningful? Who knows? Laufman would have worked with Strzok extensively as both were in the counterintelligence field so there is any number of reasons they would have been on the outs. To me, Strzok sounds as though he thinks Laufman was sent to the interview as a babysitter and is miffed by it, but that’s just my view.
Laufman has been accused by some of being a leaker. I don’t see the evidence to support the claim but the allegation is out there. But there are a couple of dozen very active leak investigations ongoing so who knows?
The resignation could be completely benign. On the other hand, the Senate Homeland Security Committee released a rather scathing interim report on the Clinton email investigation yesterday. Even though Laufman was an Obama hire he seems to have been hired as a career employee, there has been no replacement named for him. To me, the coincidence of his duty assignment, the fact that he’s a career employee, the resignations in the FBI, and the pressure building to appoint a special counsel to investigate how Hillary’s email investigation was handled say that he decided to get while the getting is good.