Washington – Congressional Democrats who fear Connecticut U.S. Attorney John Durham may be conducting a partisan investigation into the origins of the FBI’s probe into Russian meddling in U.S. elections are calling on him to resign.
Rep. Hank Johnson, D-Ga., has written Attorney General William Barr and Durham, saying “neither of you possess the integrity necessary to serve in the Department of Justice.”
Signed by 10 of Johnson’s House Democratic colleagues—but none from Connecticut – the letter’s demand for Barr’s resignation is not unique.
In May, for instance, Connecticut Sen. Richard Blumenthal said Barr should “probably resign” because, the senator said, the attorney general had mislead the public about the conclusions of former special counsel Robert Mueller’s report into Russian meddling.
But calls for Durham’s resignation are new.
The letter — signed by Johnson, Reps. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas, Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., William Lacy Clay, D-Mo., Jared Huffman, D-Calif., Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill., and five other progressive Democrats — said Barr and Durham should be ousted because they “inappropriately interfered in independent Department of Justice investigations and intentionally used (their) positions to mislead the American public in defense of President Donald J. Trump.”
The letter was prompted by the response of Durham and Barr to Inspector General Michael Horowitz’s recently issued report on his own investigation of the origins of the Russia probe.
Both men issued statements critical of Horowitz’s report.
Durham’s statement was opaque, saying “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 FBI case was opened.”
Barr, meanwhile, launched a campaign aimed at discrediting the inspector general’s conclusion that the FBI acted appropriately when it launched an investigation into whether the Trump campaign wittingly or unwittingly helped Russia influence the election in Trump’s favor.
“Mr. Barr, you even went so far as to suggest during an interview on Tuesday, December 10 that the FBI under the Obama administration was a greater threat to our democracy than Russia,” the lawmaker’s letter said, “Your uncorroborated and inappropriate statements on the OIG report legitimize fringe conspiracy theories and erode public trust in the Justice Department’s credibility.”
“Mr. Durham is equally as complicit” in the mission to discredit Horowitz’s report, the lawmakers wrote.
“We demand your immediate resignation as Attorney General and that of U.S. Attorney Durham,” the letter concludes.
The Justice Department did not respond to requests for comment about the letter.
The offices of Connecticut’s Democratic lawmakers, who are on break, also did not respond Monday to requests for comment.
Durham, who has been tight lipped about this investigation and previous cases he’s handled, surprised many with his statement about the inspector general’s report.
In a Washington Post op-ed this month, former Attorney General Eric Holder cautioned him.
“Anyone in Durham’s shoes would do well to remember that, in dealing with this administration, many reputations have been irrevocably lost,” he wrote.
Holder tapped Durham in 2009 to investigate the alleged torture and killing of terror suspects by CIA interrogators. and said in his op-ed that he has been proud to know Connecticut’s U.S. Attorney for nearly a decade.
There are also concerns over Durham’s trips with Barr overseas to collect “evidence” of what Democrats say are Trump conspiracy theories into the origins of the FBI’s investigation.
And, last week, Barr indicated that Durham’s probe has expanded beyond the FBI.
“He is not just looking at the FBI,” Barr said in an interview on Fox News. “He is looking at other agencies.”
The New York Times reported last week that Durham is investigating former CIA director John Brennan’s role in the Russia investigation and has requested Brennan’s emails, call logs and other documents.
Trump has long attacked Brennan as part of a so-called “deep state” cabal of Obama administration officials who tried to sabotage his campaign.
Barr chose Durham to lead the “investigation into the investigators” in May. At that time, Durham was already investigating FBI media leaks in the probe of Moscow’s involvement in U.S. elections.
Durham has a long and impressive resume and has been tasked by both Democratic and Republican administrations to handle sensitive investigations.
Durham has served in the U.S. attorney’s office since 1989, holding a number of positions, including acting U.S. attorney.
Before that, he served on the Justice Department’s Boston Strike Force on Organized Crime, where he led the prosecutions of several mob bosses, including James “Whitey” Bulger.