One of the standard media games played in Washington is to take a newcomer, whether it is an incoming President or a cabinet official or administrator that his being appointed to reform an agency or clean up a mess. The game goes like this. First the media builds up the newcomer. Partially it is to set a high bar for the next phase of the game and partially to convince the mark that the press is actually with him. Then we go onto “mistakes were made.” Here the media begins to publish a series of unflattering articles about missteps, about key constituencies that have their nose out of joint. There will be stories of ethical issues either in spending or awarding of contracts. Claims will be made that the newcomer’s strategy is nothing more than the old strategy. Complaints will be made about how slow things are moving. And, from there, we’re off to the “feet of clay” phase. In this part of the game the media will turn on the newcomer, they will show his real record was not as good as it was made out to be, that he took credit for things he didn’t do, that he has sold out and compromised himself in his new job and that he really needs to resign.
If you look carefully, this is the game that is being played with John Durham right now.
Shortly after Durham’s appointment was announced to unravel and expose the shenanigans behind the soft coup attempt against President Trump mounted by the FBI, CIA, and a cabal of Justice Department Officials he was lionized in stories like Barr’s pick to investigate the Mueller probe’s origins has a history of penetrating the FBI and Meet John Durham, The Man Tasked With ‘Investigating the Investigators’ and Connecticut prosecutor hailed as tough.
Last week, however, you had the warning delivered that Durham was not going to be up to the job.
Others, like Durham, are being tested by this moment. I’ve been proud to know John for at least a decade, but I was troubled by his unusual statement disputing the inspector general’s findings. Good reputations are hard-won in the legal profession, but they are fragile; anyone in Durham’s shoes would do well to remember that, in dealing with this administration, many reputations have been irrevocably lost.
Even when you finish laughing–because that quote is from an op-ed written by Eric Holder, a man who is a pathological toady to those in power and an inveterate liar. A man who signed off on a criminal scheme to deliberately allow straw purchases of firearms known to be destined for use by Mexican narcotraficantes and which strategy resulted in the murder of one US Border Patrol agent and hundreds, if not thousands, of Mexican citizens–you are struck by the ominous nature of it. It is a warning and a prediction. That if Durham continues this project for Barr it is his reputation that will be trashed.
The exact same complaint resurfaces today in a lengthy piece on Durham and his career.
That wall of silence cracked this month when Mr. Durham, serving in the most politically charged role of his career, released an extraordinary statement questioning one key element of an overlapping investigation by the Justice Department’s inspector general, Michael E. Horowitz.
Mr. Horowitz had found that the F.B.I. acted appropriately in opening the inquiry in 2016 into whether the Trump campaign wittingly or unwittingly helped Russia influence the election in Donald J. Trump’s favor. In response, Mr. Durham, whose report is not expected to be complete for months, released a caveat-laden rebuttal: “Based on the evidence collected to date, and while our investigation is ongoing, last month we advised the inspector general that we do not agree with some of the report’s conclusions as to predication and how the F.B.I. case was opened.”
The statement seemed to support comments made half an hour earlier by Mr. Barr, who assailed what he called “an intrusive investigation of a U.S. presidential campaign,” based “on the thinnest of suspicions.” Mr. Durham’s decision to go public in such a politically polarized environment surprised people who have worked with him. They found it out of character for him to intervene in such a high-profile way in an open case.
Get all of that? Broke his silence. Issued an “extraordinary statement” that seemed to contradict the IG report. The “extraordinary statement” supported a statement made by Attorney General Bill Barr.
You don’t have to be a particularly astute observer of Washington politics to see where this is going. People are afraid of Durham because he is leading an aggressive criminal investigation into the origins of the Russia Hoax. He’s leading a criminal investigation because crimes have been committed. The IG Report, itself, documented several federal offenses not the least of which was this Clinesmith clown falsifying a document to get FISA warrant issued on Carter Page. Durham’s reputation of being unafraid of going after crooked federal agents, both CIA and FBI, combined with Barr’s willingness to let him go wherever the trail leads, makes him an existential threat to the power structure James Comey and John Brennan put in place in their agencies.
When his report is finally released one thing is for sure. The media will do everything it can to paint Durham as a tool of Trump and Barr, a good man who was corrupted by a corrupt administration and targeted hardworking FBI and CIA agents to better serve his political masters.