Barr: Election Not a Deadline for Potential Durham Indictments, No Candidates Are Under Review

By Janita Kan
Janita Kan
Janita Kan
Janita Kan is a reporter based in New York covering the Justice Department, courts, and First Amendment.
April 22, 2020Updated: April 22, 2020

Attorney General William Barr said there is nothing stopping the Justice Department from announcing indictments from U.S. Attorney John Durham’s investigation during the election season, as none of the presidential candidates are under review.

Barr made the comments during a radio interview on The Hugh Hewitt show on Tuesday, where he was asked about potential guidelines affecting Durham’s investigation that required the U.S. attorney to announce indictments or close his investigation prior to the 2020 presidential election.

“As far as I’m aware, none of the key people that, whose actions are being reviewed at this point by Durham, are running for president,” Barr said.

Barr said the guidelines were a concern in 2016 when then-FBI Director James Comey was considering whether to charge then-candidate Hillary Clinton because she was the Democratic nominee for president.

“I think in its core, the idea is you don’t go after candidates,” Barr said. “You don’t indict candidates or perhaps someone that’s sufficiently close to a candidate, that it’s essentially the same, you know, within a certain number of days before an election.”

“But you know, as I say, I don’t think any of the people whose actions are under review by Durham fall into that category,” he added.

Barr assigned Durham early in 2019 to investigate the origins of the FBI’s counterintelligence investigation of the Trump campaign and to assess whether the surveillance of Trump campaign associate Carter Page was free of improper motive. The probe was designated a formal criminal investigation later in 2019.

That designation gave Durham’s team the ability to issue subpoenas, impanel a grand jury, compel witnesses to give testimony, and bring federal criminal charges.

Durham can scrutinize the conduct of several current and former senior FBI officials during his investigation, including former Director James Comey, former Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, and former Deputy Assistant Director Peter Strzok. Those officials were involved in obtaining a warrant for surveillance on Page and deployed at least two spies to target Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos.

Barr also reiterated in the same interview that he was “very troubled” by some of the information briefed by Durham, adding that the investigation was launched in order to uncover answers for “things that are unexplained.”

“I think we’re getting deeply into the situation, and we’ll be able to sort out exactly what happened,” Barr said.

During an interview with Fox News earlier this month, Barr said the FBI investigation into the Trump campaign in 2016 was “one of the greatest travesties in American history.”

“My own view is that the evidence shows that we’re not dealing with just the mistakes or sloppiness,” Barr told Fox News’ Laura Ingraham. “There was something far more troubling here. We’re going to get to the bottom of it. And if people broke the law and we can establish that with the evidence, they will be prosecuted.”

Ivan Pentchoukov contributed to this report.