John Durham, the federal prosecutor selected by Bill Barr to lead an investigation into the origins of the Russia investigation, has failed to show any criminal conspiracy involved in the start of that probe by the federal government as his investigation moves toward its conclusion.
Durham’s work is the subject of a new profile in The New York Times that outlines multiple instances of internal dissent on the Durham team over developments like the possibility of an interim report ahead of the 2020 election and criminal allegations against attorney Michael Sussmann, who Durham decided to charge but was acquitted at trial. (The case centered on contentions of Sussmann supposedly misrepresenting his relationship to his Democratic clients when bringing info about potential connections between Trump and a Russian bank to federal authorities.) Nora Dannehy, who was on Durham’s team, left before the 2020 elections amid frustration over other members of the team preparing a draft of an interim report, and another prosecutor, Anthony Scarpelli, later left his work with Durham over the thin legal foundations of the case against Sussmann.
Durham’s probe, as its nature suggests, also turned to the work of the U.S. government, but he was ultimately unable to document any criminal conspiracy that started the federal government’s Russia investigation, which in actuality originated with a tip about Trump adviser George Papadopoulos. Durham looked at potential “intelligence abuses,” as summarized by the Times, involving the U.S. intelligence community and its counterparts in countries like the U.K., and Barr himself even joined trips overseas. “Mr. Durham’s team spent long hours combing the C.I.A.’s files but found no way to support the allegation,” per the Times. “Mr. Barr and Mr. Durham traveled abroad together to press British and Italian officials to reveal everything their agencies had gleaned about the Trump campaign and relayed to the United States, but both allied governments denied they had done any such thing.”
The Times also says Barr and Durham were provided a tip by Italian officials outlining potential ties held by Trump to financial crimes. Durham himself investigated the matter, and it’s unclear what exactly came of that line of inquiry, although Durham’s own cases never covered it. Elsewhere, in eventually turning to try and loop Dems into the conspiracies suspected of underpinning the Russia probe, Durham used materials from Russian intelligence — obtained through third-party sources in the Dutch government who accessed the materials — in pushing for details of the private emails of an executive at an org founded by longtime right-wing boogeyman George Soros. The Russian intel docs claimed that exec spoke with Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-N.Y.) about supposed talk from then-Attorney General Loretta Lynch of keeping the probe into Hillary’s emails limited. No direct evidence of those conversations ever happening has, it seems, emerged.
It’s a record of failures and promises that didn’t deliver. Despite Trump talking in hopeful terms years ago about a report from Durham’s probe, there is still no such document. In reality, the former president and associates of his face continued exposure to possible criminal charges from investigations like the probe at the Justice Department led by Special Counsel Jack Smith and the criminal investigation in Georgia run by Fani Willis, a local district attorney.