Trump-Russia special counsel Durham at center of political clash as he appears before Congress
The special counsel who investigated the FBI’s probe of ties between Russia and Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign found himself at the center of a heated political fight as he appeared before a congressional committee.
Special counsel Durham to testify before Congress next month about his report on Trump-Russia probe
Former special counsel John Durham is scheduled to testify before a House committee next month about his recently completed report on the FBI’s investigation of Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign.
Durham report takeaways: a 'seriously flawed' Russia investigation and its lasting impact on the FBI
A 306-page report by Justice Department special counsel John Durham is refocusing negative attention on one of the most politically significant investigations in FBI history: the probe into whether Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign was colluding with Russia to tip the outcome of the election.
EXPLAINER: What are special counsels and what do they do?
The appointment of a special counsel to oversee the Justice Department probes into the discovery of classified documents at the home and former office of President Joe Biden has focused renewed attention on the role such prosecutors have played in modern American history.
Key witness testifies in trial tied to Trump-Russia probe
The star prosecution witness in the trial of a Hillary Clinton campaign lawyer charged with lying to the FBI says he was “100%” confident that the attorney told him he was not acting on behalf of a particular client when he presented information meant to cast suspicions on Donald Trump and possible connections to Russia.
Clinton campaign lawyer sought to 'use' FBI, prosecutor says
A prosecutor says a lawyer for Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign who is charged with lying to the FBI early in the Trump-Russia probe sought to “use and manipulate” federal law enforcement to create an “October surprise” in the final weeks of the presidential race.
Lawyer charged by Durham seeks dismissal of indictment
A lawyer for Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign who was charged by special counsel John Durham with lying to the FBI during a 2016 meeting has asked a judge to dismiss the indictment, calling it a case of “extraordinary prosecutorial overreach.”.
Durham remains special counsel overseeing Trump-Russia probe
FILE - This 2018 portrait released by the U.S. Department of Justice shows Connecticut's U.S. Attorney John Durham. But Durham, who was appointed in October by then-Attorney General William Barr as a special counsel to investigate the origins of the Trump-Russia probe, will remain in that capacity. That probe was inherited nearly a year later by special counsel Mueller, who ultimately did not find enough evidence to charge Trump or any of his associates with conspiring with Russia. A Justice Department inspector general report backed up that criticism but did not find evidence that mistakes in the surveillance applications and other problems with the probe were driven by partisan bias. A senior Justice Department official told the AP earlier this month that David Weiss, the U.S. attorney in Delaware, overseeing the federal tax probe involving Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, will remain in place.
Justice Dept. seeks resignations of Trump-era US attorneys
WASHINGTON – The Justice Department will ask U.S. attorneys who were appointed by former President Donald Trump to resign from their posts, as the Biden administration moves to transition to its own nominees, a senior Justice Department official said Monday. But the U.S. attorney overseeing the federal tax probe involving Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, will remain in place. The Justice Department has been investigating the finances of Hunter Biden, including scrutinizing some of his Chinese business dealings and other transactions. Hunter Biden confirmed the existence of the investigation in December after a round of subpoenas was issued in the case. CNN first reported that the Justice Department was seeking the resignations.
Biden's attorney general search is focused on Jones, Garland
WASHINGTON – Alabama Sen. Doug Jones and federal appeals court judge Merrick Garland are emerging as the leading contenders to be nominated as President-elect Joe Biden’s attorney general, three people familiar with the matter told The Associated Press. Biden's thinking was described by people with knowledge of the presidential transition's internal thinking who were not authorized to speak publicly. Jones, who is white, has had a long-standing personal relationship with Biden dating back to Biden’s first presidential campaign in 1988. Jones would not comment Tuesday on the possibility of a nomination as attorney general. The Biden team has also been considering a number of other potential candidates for the post, including former Justice Department official Lisa Monaco.
Ex-FBI lawyer who altered Russia probe email seeks probation
Kevin Clinesmith admitted in August 2020 to having altered an email used in support of an FBI application to monitor the communications of former Trump campaign aide Carter Page. Kevin Clinesmith admitted in August to having altered an email that was being used in support of an FBI application to monitor the communications of a former Trump campaign aide, Carter Page. Clinesmith's lawyers said that although he believed the information he wrote was accurate, he knowingly doctored the email by stating that Page was “not a source” for the CIA. “By altering a colleague’s email, he cut a corner in a job that required far better of him. He failed to live up to the FBI’s and his own high standards of conduct,” his lawyers wrote.
Barr's special counsel move could tie up his successor
WASHINGTON – Outgoing Attorney General William Barr's decision to appoint a special counsel to investigate the handling of the Russia probe ensures his successor won't have an easy transition. But the maneuvering over the special counsel is especially significant because it saddles Democrats with an investigation that they've derided as tainted. A special counsel can only be dismissed for cause. The Biden transition did not respond to a request for comment on the special counsel appointment. But Barr's decision could influence whom the president-elect puts forth as a nominee for attorney general.
Disputing Trump, Barr says no widespread election fraud
Attorney General William Barr said Tuesday, Dec. 1, that the Justice Department has not uncovered evidence of widespread voter fraud and has seen nothing that would change the outcome of the 2020 presidential election. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson, File)WASHINGTON – Disputing President Donald Trump’s persistent, baseless claims, Attorney General William Barr declared the U.S. Justice Department has uncovered no evidence of widespread voter fraud that could change the outcome of the 2020 election. Under federal regulations, a special counsel can be fired only by the attorney general and for specific reasons such as misconduct, dereliction of duty or conflict of interest. An attorney general must document such reasons in writing. Trump himself continues to rail against the election in tweets and in interviews though his own administration has said the 2020 election was the most secure ever.
Barr appoints special counsel in Russia probe investigation
Barr told The Associated Press on Dec. 1, 2020, that he appointed Durham as a special counsel in October under the same federal statute that governed special counsel Robert Muellers in the Russia probe. Barr told The Associated Press on Tuesday that he had appointed U.S. Attorney John Durham as a special counsel in October under the same federal regulations that governed special counsel Robert Mueller in the original Russia probe. Under the regulations, a special counsel can be fired only by the attorney general and for specific reasons such as misconduct, dereliction of duty or conflict of interest. The special counsel rules say the appointed person should be outside of government, but Barr pointed to specific provisions in his memo that would allow him to go around that rule. Senate Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham said it was “obvious the system failed” and he concurred with the appointment of a special counsel to continue the investigation.
Trump pressures Barr to investigate Bidens as election nears
FILE - In this March 23, 2020, file photo President Donald Trump moves from the podium to allow Attorney General William Barr to speak about the coronavirus in the James Brady Briefing Room in Washington. The relationship between President Donald Trump and top ally Attorney General William Barr is fraying over the lack of splashy indictments so far in the Justice Departments investigation into the origins of the Russia probe, according to people familiar with the matter. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)
Trump ups pressure on Barr to probe Bidens as election nears
With just two weeks to go before Election Day, Trump for the first time explicitly called on Barr to investigate the Bidens and even pointed to the nearing Nov. 3 election as reason that Barr should not delay taking action. The Justice Department did not respond to requests for comment on the president’s call for an investigation. He has also expressed increasing anger over the resistance of the Justice Department to some of his appeals. As the election nears, Barr has kept a lower profile, limiting his time in front of the cameras to avoid facing direct questions from the media about Trump’s demands for greater Justice Department involvement in the election. While Barr has kept a lower profile in recent week, he has publicly sided with Trump on election matters.
2016 sequel? Trump's old attacks failing to land on Biden
WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump stood before a crowd in a state that had once been firmly in his grasp. That moment Wednesday in Iowa, a state Trump won comfortably four years ago but is now seen as competitive, underscored a fundamental challenge facing his reelection campaign: It’s not 2016. The president’s attempts to recycle attacks he used on Hillary Clinton that year have so far failed to effectively damage Democrat Joe Biden. “The president’s message is clear: he has accomplished more for America in 47 months than Joe Biden has in 47 years,” said Trump campaign communications director Tim Murtaugh. “This boils down to a choice between a political outsider who has shaken up Washington and a failed career politician.”The Trump campaign believes it has a viable, if narrow path to victory.
How a probe of Trump-Russia ties turned into a GOP rally cry
Yet in the 2020 campaign, Democrats are largely ignoring the Russia probe. While some of the revelations from the steady drip of newly declassified documents are serious, they do not undercut the reasons the Russia probe was launched or its principal findings. Meanwhile, Attorney General William Barr has appointed a prosecutor to investigate the origins of the Russia probe. Meanwhile, attacking the Russia probe is a core part of Trump's campaign. Those attacks on the Russia probe may not win over many undecided voters.
Trump: Justice Dept. had 'plenty of time' for Durham probe
On Friday, Trump told conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh that Justice Department investigators had “plenty of time to do it. After Limbaugh read Trump an Axios story on the topic, Trump said he'd be disappointed if Barr had relayed that message to lawmakers. Still, much of the uptick in tensions between Trump and Barr centers on the Justice Department's handling of the Durham probe. Even the outlines of the case involving FBI lawyer Kevin Clinesmith, who pleaded guilty in the Durham probe, were already known before he was charged. Trump aides had banked on the Durham probe being finished before 2020 election to lend credibility to Trump’s claims that his own investigative agencies were working against him.
Trump, Barr at odds over slow pace of Durham investigation
With time running out for pre-election action on the case, Trump is increasingly airing his dissatisfaction in tweets and television appearances. Still, much of the uptick in tensions between Trump and Barr centers on the Justice Department's handling of the Durham probe. A senior administration official said Trump feels like he’s given Barr wide latitude to advance the investigation, including declassifying documents related to Russia. Even the outlines of the case involving FBI lawyer Kevin Clinesmith, who pleaded guilty in the Durham probe, were already known before he was charged. Barr has privately expressed frustration over the president's public pronouncements on the Durham investigation.
Prosecutor looking into the origins of Russia probe resigns
WASHINGTON – A federal prosecutor who was helping lead the investigation into the origins of the Trump-Russia probe has resigned from the Justice Department, a spokesman said. It leaves the investigative team without one of its veteran prosecutors as key decisions presumably await before the probe wraps up. In the year and a half since, he has questioned former law enforcement and intelligence officials — former CIA Director John Brennan among them — about decisions made during the course of the Russia probe. It's also not clear that Durham's work would be permitted to continue if Trump loses in November and Democratic leadership assumes control at the Justice Department. The court ruled that U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan did not have to dismiss the case just because the Justice Department wanted him to.
Prosecutor looking into the origins of Russia probe resigns
WASHINGTON – A federal prosecutor who was helping lead the investigation into the origins of the Trump-Russia probe has resigned from the Justice Department, a spokesman said Friday. Durham's appointment by Attorney General William Barr was made public soon after the release of special counsel Robert Mueller's report into Russian election interference. In the year and a half since, he has questioned former law enforcement and intelligence officials — former CIA Director John Brennan among them — about decisions made during the course of the Russia probe. But the prosecution did not allege a broader conspiracy within the FBI, and the conduct it involved had largely been laid out in a Justice Department inspector general report from last December. It is not clear if Durham will be able to wrap up before the election, though Barr did not rule out the possibility of additional criminal charges.
Ex-FBI lawyer admits to false statement during Russia probe
WASHINGTON A former FBI lawyer pleaded guilty Wednesday to altering a document related to the secret surveillance of a former Trump campaign adviser during the Russia investigation. Kevin Clinesmith, who pleaded guilty to making a false statement, is the first current or former official to be charged in a special Justice Department review of the investigation into ties between Russia and Donald Trump's 2016 presidential campaign. Attorney General William Barr appointed John Durham, the U.S. attorney in Connecticut, to scrutinize decisions made by officials during that probe.
Ex-FBI lawyer to plead guilty in Durham's Trump-Russia probe
WASHINGTON A former FBI lawyer will plead guilty to making a false statement in the first criminal case arising from U.S. Attorney John Durham's investigation into the probe of ties between Russia and the 2016 Trump campaign. The investigation has proceeded alongside a parallel effort by Senate Republicans to discredit the Russia probe and as Attorney General William Barr has escalated his own criticism of the FBI's probe. Clinesmith was referred for potential prosecution by the department's inspector general's office, which conducted its own review of the Russia investigation. Former Attorney General Eric Holder selected him during the Obama administration to investigate the CIA's harsh interrogation techniques of terror suspects and the destruction of videotapes documenting that interrogation. Barr signaled his skepticism with the Russia investigation right away, concluding that Trump had not obstructed justice even though Mueller had pointedly left that question unresolved.
Barr to condemn rioting at much-anticipated House hearing
FILE - In this March 23, 2020, file photo Attorney General William Barr speaks about the coronavirus in the James Brady Briefing Room in Washington. Barr is scheduled to appear for the first time before the House Judiciary Committeeon Tuesday, July 28. Massive but peaceful demonstrations had followed Floyd's death in May. But he will also condemn Americans who he says have responded inappropriately to Floyd's death through what he said was rioting and anarchy. Barr also pushed for a more lenient sentence for another Trump ally, Roger Stone, prompting the entire trial team's departure.
Barr to condemn rioting at much-anticipated House hearing
Barr is scheduled to appear for the first time before the House Judiciary Committeeon Tuesday, July 28. Massive but peaceful demonstrations had followed Floyd's death in May. But he will also condemn Americans who he says have responded inappropriately to Floyd's death through what he said was rioting and anarchy. Barr also pushed for a more lenient sentence for another Trump ally, Roger Stone, prompting the entire trial team's departure. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Monday on MSNBC that Democrats want to question Barr about how Trump is undermining the Constitution of the United States. Barr previously rebuffed the House committee and Pelosi said that we hope that he will show up."
Feds bring terrorism charges in latest MS-13 gang crackdown
President Donald Trump speaks during a law enforcement briefing on the MS-13 gang in the Oval Office of the White House, Wednesday, July 15, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)NEW YORK Federal authorities announced terrorism charges Wednesday against a leader of MS-13, continuing a nationwide crackdown against a notorious street gang that President Donald Trump described as vile and evil." An indictment unsealed in Virginia against Melgar Diaz marked the first time the Justice Department has brought terrorism charges against a member of MS-13. Attorney General William Barr described Diaz as the person who would green-light assassinations for the gang in the United States. The president said Wednesday that U.S. Immigration and Customs has arrested more than 2,000 MS-13 members over the past few years.
Inquiry into Russia probe carries political consequences
But that doesn't mean the investigation, led by U.S. Attorney John Durham of Connecticut, doesn't carry its own political consequences. He was named last year by Barr to investigate the origins of the Russia investigation. Durham's investigation is one of multiple inquiries the department has undertaken in connection with the FBI's probe into potential coordination between Russia and the 2016 Trump campaign. In the statement, released through the Justice Department, Durham said he disagreed with the inspector general about the investigation being properly predicated. Trump is likely to seize on any modicum of questionable activity during the FBIs counterintelligence probe, which morphed into special counsel Robert Muellers Russia investigation.
Barr says he doesn't envision investigations of Biden, Obama
We live in a very divided country right now, and I think that it is critical that we have an election where the American people are allowed to make a decision, a choice, between President Trump and Vice President Biden based on a robust debate of policy issues," Barr said. But his comments Monday seemed designed at least in part to temper expectations among some Trump supporters that the investigation could ensnare Biden or Obama. Whatever their level of involvement, based on the information I have today, I dont expect Mr. Durhams work will lead to a criminal investigation of either man, Barr said, referring to Obama and Biden. Demands by Trump allies for investigations into Biden and Obama escalated in the last week after the president's top intelligence official declassified a list related to the Flynn investigation. Asked later about Barr's comments about Obama and Biden, Trump told reporters he was surprised because he believed the men knew everything that was happening" and were involved in the takedown of a president."