A high-ranking official at the Justice Department has abruptly resigned, reportedly amidst concerns that they had about political pressure from Attorney General Bill Barr on the team that they’d been working with. The official, Nora Dannehy, had been serving as a top aide on the team of U.S. Attorney John Durham, who’s been investigating the origins of the Russia investigation. According to the Hartford Courant, Dannehy resigned “at least partly out of concern that the investigative team is being pressed for political reasons to produce a report before its work is done, colleagues said.” Specifically, there’s been alleged pressure to produce a report before the November presidential election.
The Courant reports that Dannehy’s brief late Thursday email to colleagues revealing her resignation “said nothing about political pressure, her work for Durham or what the Durham team has produced, according to people who received it.” However, “Colleagues said Dannehy is not a supporter of President Donald J. Trump and has been concerned in recent weeks by what she believed was pressure from Barr – who appointed Durham – to produce results before the election.” Trump and his political allies, including Barr, have consistently alleged some kind of nefarious anti-Trump intent behind the original Russia investigation, although they have struggled to produce substantive evidence.
The Courant notes that associates of Durham “have said recently that it is their belief he is under pressure to produce something – perhaps some sort of report – before the presidential election in November,” although those associates did not have firsthand knowledge of the investigation.
So far, the only result of Durham’s investigative team’s work has been a criminal charge of making a false statement that was issued against former FBI lawyer Kevin Clinesmith. He doctored a CIA email about ex-Trump adviser Carter Page, changing a statement indicating that Page had been a source for the agency to one indicating that he had not. The change was apparently intended to bolster the FBI’s case for an approval of surveillance of Page, but it had basically nothing to do with Trump, it seems. Page was not associated with the Trump campaign at the time, although Trump and his allies (including Barr) have claimed — wrongly — that the Obama administration “spied” on the Trump campaign.