A top Republican tagged President Trump in a tweet encouraging U.S. Attorney John Durham to initiate any planned prosecutions as part of his inquiry into the Russia investigation before the 2020 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,” Grassley tweeted, telling Trump to think about the case against Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, the actions taken by special counsel Robert Mueller, and the Democrat-led, Ukraine-related impeachment effort that ended with his acquittal by the Republican-held Senate in February.
“The deep state is so deep that ppl get away w political crimes,” the Iowa Republican wrote. “Durham shld 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.
“I have a general idea of how Mr. Durham’s investigation is going. … 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.”
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.
Barr blamed the coronavirus pandemic for a “slowing down” of Durham’s ability to interview witnesses. He declined to say whether there has been any grand jury activity but said that Durham “has been working where he can on other matters that aren’t affected by the pandemic.”
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.
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 and still used it.