Saturday, August 08, 2020

Ah Yes…, By Its Loud Squeal, We Know A Bad Piglet Got Caught Under The Gate


justsecurity |  Dear U.S. Attorney Durham:

On May 13, 2019, Attorney General William Barr appointed you to review the origins of the 2016 Justice Department investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 elections. At some point, this review turned into a criminal investigation of the Justice Department’s investigation into Russia’s efforts to undermine our democracy.

The need for your appointment was hard to understand at the time it was made, since the Justice Department’s independent Inspector General was already conducting a similar investigation that began in March 2018 into the same issues.  On December 9, 2019, the Inspector General issued his report and concluded that the 2016 Russia investigation had had a legitimate purpose and that there was no evidence of political bias against President Trump in how the investigation had been initiated or undertaken.

We are now in the closing stages of the 2020 presidential campaign.

Longstanding Department policies issued by the past three Attorneys General who served during an election year make plain that Department actions should not be taken in an election year that could influence or affect an election.  George J. Terwilliger III, who served as deputy attorney general under Attorney General William Barr in the administration of President George H.W. Bush, said in 2016, “There’s a longstanding policy of not doing anything that could influence an election.”

I strongly urge you to follow this policy and not to issue any report, or bring any indictments, resulting from your investigation in these closing weeks of the 2020 presidential election.

Any public action by the Justice Department in this pre-election period that is associated with your investigation – which by its very nature involves actions taken during the Obama-Biden Administration – is bound to be used by President Trump for partisan political purposes to promote his re-election effort against Vice President Biden.

In testifying during his Senate confirmation hearings, Mr. Barr was asked whether there are “policies in place that try to insulate the investigations and the decisions of the Department of Justice and FBI from getting involved in elections?” Barr said yes and explained that the party in power has “their hands on the levers of the law enforcement apparatus of the country, and you do not want it used against the opposing political party.” But that is precisely what would occur here if a report is issued on your investigation of the Russia investigation or if indictments are brought at this critical stage of the presidential election.

You should not permit your long and distinguished career in the Justice Department to be permanently tainted, or your personal integrity to be irreparably impugned, by what would plainly be an effort to use your investigation to influence or affect the 2020 presidential election.