Attorney General Bill Barr’s decision to appoint U.S. Attorney John Durham as a special counsel to investigate the origins of the probe into Russia and President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign is bad news for Joe Biden and could hinder a potential nomination of Sally Yates as attorney general, George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley writes in an opinion piece.
The appointment also contradicts news reports claiming Durham hadn’t found anything of significance after being tapped in May 2019 to conduct the investigation because Barr would have had to find that there was a need for further criminal investigation but that it would have been a conflict of interest for the Department of Justice to conduct it, Turley says in his USA Today article, published on Wednesday.
And after former FBI attorney Kevin Clinesmith’s guilty plea to altering an email that was used to seek surveillance warrants against ex-Trump campaign adviser Carter Page, the further investigation and conflict likely do not involve people in the current administration, but rather those expected to join Biden’s administration, said Turley.
The former vice president has said he will nominate several former Obama-era officials for positions, including Yates, but she “would have no choice but to recuse herself in dealing with the Durham investigation,” said Turley.
As special prosecutor, Durham can investigate anyone who may have violated the law through investigation or activities directed at Trump’s 2016 campaign, and that would involve a “who’s who of Washington from Hillary Clinton to James Comey to … yes … Joe Biden,” Turley said.
Meanwhile, several key Democrats, including House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff and Sen. Amy Klobuchar, have appeared to be laying a foundation to stop the Durham investigation, and Biden dismissed the “investigation of the investigators,” Turley notes.
But by naming Durham as a special counsel, Barr made it harder to fire him as a U.S. attorney under a new administration, said Turley, and if Biden or other Democrats stopped the investigation, that would be seen as obstruction.
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