Particular counsel John Durham, who as soon as loved a strong repute as a prosecutor, now owns what stands out as the worst trial report of any particular counsel or unbiased prosecutor in American historical past: no wins, two losses.
Durham’s ignominious report additional tarnishes the repute of former Legal professional Common William Barr,
Durham’s ignominious report additional tarnishes the repute of former Legal professional Common William Barr, the person who introduced Durham to Washington in Might 2019 and gave him the job of making an attempt to poke holes within the FBI’s 2016 Trump-Russia investigation. Simply earlier than his exit from the Trump administration in December 2020, Barr protected Durham from removing by elevating him from a U.S. lawyer inside the Justice Division to the extra protected function of particular counsel.
On Tuesday, Durham suffered his second straight trial loss. A D.C. jury acquitted Igor Danchenko on all 4 remaining counts in Durham’s 2021 indictment for making false statements to the FBI. Final Friday, Oct. 14, the federal decide overseeing the case tossed the primary rely as unsupported by the proof.
Durham’s earlier defeat got here in Might, when one other D.C. jury acquitted Michael Sussmann, the one-time Clinton marketing campaign lawyer. As in Danchenko’s trial, Durham did not convict Sussmann of constructing false statements to the FBI.
To make certain, in 2020 and earlier than being named particular counsel, Durham notched a responsible plea, that of Kevin Clinesmith, the one-time FBI agent who lied to a court docket about Trump marketing campaign aide Carter Web page. Failing to safe a plea right here would have been considerably surprising, nonetheless; eight months earlier, DOJ Inspector Common Michael Horowitz painstakingly cataloged the proof of Clinesworth’s misconduct.
Quick ahead to Durham’s present loss. The particular counsel was making an attempt to show that Danchenko had lied about info that he supplied the FBI concerning the so-called Steele file. The bureau’s investigation of Donald Trump began with sources unbiased of that file and didn’t depend on it, as The New York Occasions reported. Fox Information hosts, nonetheless, don’t like or settle for that report. And because the Washington Submit’s Philip Bump writes, whereas unproductive, Durham’s prosecution of Danchenko has definitely helped MAGA supporters and Trump proceed to flow into and repackage outdated conspiracies.
And therein lies the explanation underlying Durham’s shedding trial report. He has finished what prosecutors are duty-bound to keep away from: utilizing the felony courts to amplify a false political narrative.
He has finished what prosecutors are duty-bound to keep away from: utilizing the felony courts to amplify a false political narrative.
In impact, it looks like Durham’s task from Barr was to change into the courthouse arm of Trump’s meme that the FBI’s work was a “witch hunt.” It will be wildly naïve to say that he was merely following the information.
On Monday, throughout Durham’s closing argument in opposition to Danchenko, the particular prosecutor made a degree of rebuking the FBI’s 2016 investigation. He known as the FBI “the elephant within the room.” As reported by the Washington Examiner, Durham argued that “the FBI failed right here,” “mishandled the investigation” and “didn’t do what [it] ought to have finished.”
Through the trial final week, Durham attacked each of the FBI brokers he placed on the stand. He did so after these brokers, on cross-examination, testified that Danchenko had been a priceless supply of data. It will be an understatement to label a trial technique that handled FBI brokers as hostile witnesses as “distinctive” within the annals of DOJ prosecutions.
Durham additionally joined Barr’s assault on his personal division’s unbiased inspector basic after the IG’s 2019 report concluded that the FBI had legitimately initiated the Trump-Russia investigation. “We suggested the Inspector Common that we don’t agree with a few of the report’s conclusions as to … how the FBI case was opened,” Durham wrote.
Nonpartisan federal prosecutors simply don’t do such issues.
We additionally know that in September 2020, Nora Dannehy, Durham’s extremely regarded aide, resigned from his crew with out public rationalization. The Hartford Courant reported her concern about “stress from Barr … to supply outcomes earlier than the election.”
Durham, nonetheless, caught with Barr. And it’s actually Barr’s profession that’s most undermined by the particular counsel’s clear fail. Durham’s work casts one more darkish shadow on the person who was his patron. And Barr’s energetic makes an attempt after Jan. 6 to rehabilitate his picture can not erase his unhappy closing legacy as a Trump enabler.