Respected conservative legal commentator has great confidence in John Durham
We find it troubling, however, when the same commentator reveals that for Durham prosecutions are judgment calls where social effects are relevant
That could be a pretty slippery basis of analysis that maybe should be above the prosecutors pay-grade on politically momentous matters, especially where so much evidence points to guilt by politcal actors
The excerpts below are from an article written by Paul Sperry, an excellent reporter for Real Clear Politics. His analysis parallels our own, which we have shared with readers in the past…up to a point! Our analysis follows.
Ex-Colleagues See Durham Dropping Bombshells Before Labor Day
“Justice Department policy prohibits prosecutors from taking overt steps in politically charged cases typically within 60 days of an election. Accordingly, Durham would have to make a move by the Friday before Labor Day, or Sept. 4.”
“(Durham’s)… team is led by his deputy, Nora Dannehy, who specializes in the prosecution of complex white-collar and public corruption cases. A Democrat with a reputation for integrity, she left a high-paying corporate job to rejoin Durham’s office in March 2019, the month after Barr was confirmed.
– “There’s no question that if Biden is elected, everything Durham has done at that point will be canceled out,” Swecker explained, adding that Biden would replace Barr and possibly even Durham. But by putting indictments and reports “into the public arena” before the election, Durham would put a Biden administration in the position of either taking further action or closing down his probe.
– “I would find it hard to believe that he punts under any circumstances,” said former assistant FBI director Chris Swecker, who knows Durham personally and has worked with the “hard-nosed prosecutor” on prior investigations.
– (Swecker)… pointed out that Durham “would not risk throwing away 16 months of investigative work if he delayed action beyond the election.”
Sperry believes, as we do, that Durham is a gifted and persistent prosecutor/investigator. And he also believes that his integrity is strong and that he will see that the facts of his investigation are known to the American people and will make every effort to see that justice is done.
We don’t doubt Mr. Durham’s skill, devotion to justice, or intent to ‘do the right thing’.
However, his perception of “the right thing” might be somewhat different from ours.
It has been suggested, though since apparently denied by AG Barr, that Durham’s sense of the “right thing” might be to not reveal the results of his probe and the conclusions he’s drawn from it until AFTER the election…so as not to appear that it’s “just politics”.
Mr. Swecker doesn’t believe that to be the case. He knows Durham very well and apparently has a solid basis for his ‘faith’ in him.
I guess we’ll see.
There are, to us, some troubling aspects to this, however, that provides some basis for our concerns.
First, of course, is the apparent “heads up” from Barr on Durham’s “political” concerns. Barr’s comments to the House Judiciary Committee did not totally allay our fears that that may be the DOJ’s operative position.
Then there’s Durham’s choice of a “Deputy”, Ms. Nora Dannehy…identified as a “Democrat”, with a “reputation for integrity”. She had worked for Durham when he was Federal Prosecutor (Conn.) and investigated high profile cases into defendants on “both sides of the aisle”.
We’ve found nothing to refute her reputation’s characterization, other than, we’ve heard a lot of Washington people described precisely that way…Rod Rosenstein, Bob Mueller, James Comey, etc, etc.
For the moment, though, we’ll accept that Ms. Dannehy, although a Democrat, is “impeccable”, “above reproach”, “no nonsense”….
More importantly, maybe, in a ‘puff piece’ by the National Review, entitled, “The Last Trusted Prosecutor in Washington” (Geraghty article further excerpted below) “…(regarding the investigation of Trump’s)… potential connections to Russia during the 2016 campaign. Durham will not speak to the press at all until he is done, and probably not even then. He and his team are extremely unlikely to leak. He is not afraid to reach conclusions that will disappoint or frustrate Attorney General Barr or President Trump. He will not be rushed; there is no guarantee that Durham will reach any prosecutorial decisions before the 2020 elections.”
And thus, we have John Durham’s “excellent reputation” going in to the “Trump Investigation”, hailed as “a professional who will not be rushed” , and the views of a former Asst. FBI Director, who knows Durham well, saying that he “would not risk throwing away 16 months of investigative work if he delayed action beyond the election.”
And, so, the question is still out there:
WILL JOHN DURHAM WRAP UP HIS INVESTIGATION, WITH A FINDING THAT THE MOUNTAIN OF EVIDENCE PROVES WRONGDOING BY THE PREVIOUS ADMINISTRATION, BEFORE THE ELECTION IN NOVEMBER?
OR, WILL HE, WISHING TO AVOID BEING ACCUSED OF “POLITICIZING” HIS INVESTIGATION, BE WILLING TO RISK SEEING HIS WORK “CANCELLED OUT” BY A NEW (BIDEN) ADMINISTRATION?
WE’LL SEE. dlh
Excerpts from lengthy November 4, 2019 National Review article by Jim Geraghty about Durham: (bold our emphasis)
The Last Trusted Prosecutor in Washington
John Durham may be the most consequential and least known figure in Washington right now.
In May, U.S. attorney general William Barr selected Durham, a longtime prosecutor with a résumé so sterling it nearly glows, to investigate the origins of the special counsel’s probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election, and whether it was properly predicated. Some Trump fans believe there was a vast effort by a “deep state” of high-ranking intelligence and law-enforcement officials to smear Trump or hinder his campaign by creating a perception of corrupt ties to Russia. In late October, the New York Times quoted unnamed sources who said that Durham’s probe had officially become a criminal investigation, meaning he now has the power to subpoena for witness testimony and documents, to convene a grand jury, and to file criminal charges. . . .
In September 2008, U.S. Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey appointed Ms. Dannehy to supervise a national investigation concerning the dismissal of nine U.S. Attorneys in 2006.
“Nora Dannehy has superior legal skills and an unmatched reputation for integrity,” said U.S. Attorney Durham. “During her long tenure in the Justice Department, she led some of the most sensitive investigations ever undertaken by our office. I am thrilled that Nora has chosen to return to public service and look forward to working with her and relying on her counsel and decades of legal experience to further the cause of justice for the people of Connecticut and our nation.” . . .
In his speech at University of St. Joseph, Durham did not discuss his investigation of the tapes, but he did discuss the prosecutor’s calculus of when charges are warranted, which likely applied in this decision. “You are only authorized to bring a prosecution if you believe, based upon the evidence that you have, that you are likely to be able to prove a case not to the probable cause standard, which is all that is required to arrest somebody, but if you believe you can prosecute the case and prove that case beyond a reasonable doubt, and beyond that, that you would be able to sustain that conviction on appeal,” Durham said. “And if you can’t say, in all honesty, that you would be able to do that, then prosecution is not warranted. When on the nightly news, you’re watching what Bob Mueller is doing, and so forth, however that investigation turns out, whatever Mr. Mueller and his colleague conclude, if it’s not satisfactory to the public, it may very well be because Bob Mueller is an honorable man who applies those principles of law as he’s been taught and as he’s taught to others.”
“Durham was not just saying, ‘Do I have enough here that I could actually get a prosecution?’,” Deitz said. “But ‘Do I have enough here to justify — legally, morally, societally — this person’s conviction?’ That’s another reason why I admire him.” . . .
Related reading (also by Paul Sperry)
Brief History of the Justice Dept.’s ’60-Day Rule’ (Which Doesn’t Say 60 Days)