AG Garland put on the spot: Asked if he'll renew Durham funding

Merrick Garland (Photo: Twitter)

A government watchdog group has put Attorney General Merrick Garland on the spot, demanding to know whether he will continue funding for John Durham’s special investigation of the origins of the Democrats’ debunked “Russia collusion” claims against President Trump when the new fiscal year starts in a few weeks.

An organization called Empower Oversight has filed a Freedom of Information Act request wanting to know if Garland “has sought to prematurely terminate Special Counsel John Durham’s investigation.”

William Barr, who was AG for President Trump, gave Durham the assignment to find out what violations of the law there were in the scheme that cooked up the wild allegations, using funding from Hillary Clinton, and propagating the discredited Steele Dossier claims, that ex-British agent Christopher Steele created with his Russian sources.

Evidence now has come available that suggests Hillary Clinton wanted to create the story line that Donald Trump was somehow linked to Russia in order to distract voters from her own email scandal, in which, as secretary of state, she ran government secrets through a private and unsecure email system.

The letter points out that Durham was told to investigate “violations of law in connection with the intelligence, counterintelligence, or law enforcement activities directed at the 2016 presidential campaigns.”

“The eventual findings and outcome of the Durham investigation are of extreme importance to the public, and one former FBI attorney has already been convicted for his misconduct,” the letter said.

While special counsel regulations provide them significant authority, their funding still depends on the attorney general, the letter pointed out.

“The Department [of Justice] has failed to inform the public as to whether Attorney General Garland intends to prematurely end the special counsel’s investigation,” the letter said. “With the fiscal year ending next month, it is vitally important that the public get answers as soon as possible about the government’s conduct. Transparency from the department is the only way to ensure public trust that political appointees in the current administration have not improperly interfered with the special counsel’s investigation.”

Just the News reported that Garland failed to pledge support for the investigation at his confirmation hearings.

Constitutional expert Jonathan Turley reported just days earlier that the looming report should have those in the Beltway “rattled.”

“For good reason,” noted the Shapiro Professor of Public Interest Law at George Washington University.

For two years, Durham, a former U.S. attorney, has been investigating what happened that allowed those in the establishment, inside the government in Washington, to manipulate evidence, as one FBI already has confessed, and more, to pursue the campaign against Trump.

The DOJ’s inspector general already has released a long list of offenses that were committed during the Obama administration’s work, and the FISA court, which was convinced to authorize spying on the Trump campaign with evidence that apparently was made up, has rescinded some of his authorizations.

Turley noted a report from Friday that Durham was “presenting evidence against FBI agents and possibly others in the use of false information or tips at the start of the Russia investigation in 2016.”

“Those ‘others,'” he said, “could include a virtual who’s who of Washington politics, and even if they are not indicted, Durham could implicate some of the most powerful figures in politics in his final report, expected in the coming months.”

He said evidence that has come to light in just the last few months – even though the apparent conspiracy and Steele-dossier triggered campaign to destroy Trump’s candidacy – and then presidency – began years ago.

“It was disclosed in October, for instance, that President Obama was briefed by his CIA director, John Brennan, on July 28, 2016, on intelligence suggesting that Hillary Clinton planned to tie then-candidate Donald Trump to Russia as ‘a means of distracting the public from her use of a private email server.’ The date was significant because the Russia investigation was initiated July 31, 2016, just three days later,” Turley explained.

Of course it was the Steele dossier, funded in party by Hillary Clinton, that alleged Trump was in collusion with Russia.

“Throughout the campaign, the Clinton campaign denied any involvement in the creation of the so-called Steele dossier’s allegations of Trump-Russia connections. However, weeks after the election, journalists discovered that the Clinton campaign hid payments for the dossier made to a research firm, Fusion GPS, as ‘legal fees’ among the $5.6 million paid to the campaign’s law firm,” Turley noted.

And John Podesta, Clinton’s campaign chairman, claimed to Congress that there was no contractual agreement with Fusion GPS.

And, he said, “It was later revealed that American intelligence viewed Steele as unreliable and believed his dossier was used by Russian intelligence to plant disinformation. Later reports show that Steele shopped the information to any reporters who would listen before the election and that there was an effort to get the information to trusted figures in the Justice Department.”

Then there were the situations involve Bruce Ohr, a DOJ official, and his wife, Nellie, who worked for Fusion GPS on Trump’s “purported” connections to Russia, he said.

“For many individuals, the statute of limitations may have passed on any alleged crimes,” Turley said. “But the truth brought to light in any final report could result a public indictment of sorts.”

He said the final fight could be over the release of the report itself, because “many in Congress and the media may not want it to see the light of day since it is likely to be an indictment not just of the FBI but of the establishment and an enabling media.”

The Journal report said Durham was presenting evidence to a grand jury, which could be a sign he’s considering additional criminal charges.

Last year, Durham brought a charge against former FBI lawyer Kevin Clinesmith, who admitted altering an email about Trump campaign aide Carter Page, a target of FBI surveillance. Clinesmith agreed to a plea deal and was sentenced to probation.

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