Every Senate Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, including vice-presidential candidate Kamala Harris, signed a letter asking the Department of Justice Inspector General to open an investigation into whether a DOJ probe into the Russia investigation is being used for partisan politics ahead of the November election.

Key Facts

In the letter to Inspector General Michael Horowitz, the Democrats asked that the probe, which is being led by U.S. Attorney John Durham, be investigated to ensure it “complies with Department of Justice policies, including policies that protect criminal investigations from political influence.”

Last week, Nora Dannehy, a top aide in Durham’s investigation and a career prosecutor, resigned from the DOJ, reportedly out of concern that Durham was being pressured by Attorney General William Barr to produce results before the November election.

While Dannehy’s resignation letter didn’t specifically mention political pressure from Barr, she was reportedly conflicted by what she thought was pressure from Barr to produce results before the investigators could finish their job.

Barr has publicly hinted that Durham’s investigation could result in charges before Election Day, and White House chief of staff Mark Meadows told a Fox Business reporter he had seen documents related to Durham’s investigation that “spell trouble” for Obama-era officials.

These recent events, the letter says, suggest that Barr and Meadows, among others, may be violating rules that prohibit DOJ personnel from publicly commenting on investigations or sharing information about investigations with the White House.

Key Background

Democrats are worried the Durham investigation could influence the election in November, and though Barr has promised that any upcoming report wouldn’t violate Justice Department policy against interference in the 2020 presidential race, he wouldn’t commit to holding a report until after the election. Durham was appointed by Barr in May 2019 to probe the origin of the Russia investigation and whether the intelligence community violated any rules while investigating Trump’s 2016 campaign. The Russia investigation, led by Special Counsel Robert Mueller,  ultimately found that the Russian government intervened in the 2016 election to benefit Trump, which the campaign welcomed, but didn’t have enough evidence to say whether the campaign staff coordinated with Russia to win. The Mueller Report of the investigation didn’t say whether Trump committed a crime by allowing Russia to interfere in the 2016 election, but it also didn’t exonerate him. In December 2019 Trump was impeached in the House of Representatives for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. He was acquitted in the Senate. 

Further Reading

Top Prosecutor In DOJ’s Probe Of Russia Investigation Resigns Amid Worries Of Pressure From AG Barr (Forbes)

John Durham’s Trump-Russia investigation, resigns amid concern about pressure from Attorney General William Barr (The Hartford Courant)

Barr won’t rule out pre-election release of Durham report (Politico)

Ex-FBI lawyer admits to falsifying document in probe of Trump’s campaign (The Washington Post)

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