Durham Probe Won’t Affect the 2020 Election, Attorney General Says

September 3, 2020 Updated: September 19, 2020

U.S. Attorney John Durham’s probe into the origins of the investigation of President Donald Trump’s campaign and Russia won’t affect the November election, Attorney General William Barr reiterated late Wednesday.

Barr, during an interview with CNN published this week, was asked whether Trump is pressuring him to take certain actions in regards to Durham’s probe.

“I don’t feel any pressure,” Barr said, after the host played the clip of Trump recently saying that Barr “can go down as the greatest attorney general in the history of a country, or he can go down as just another guy” and calling on Barr to avoid a “politically correct” outcome.

He pointed to his response at the time, which was to say, during an appearance on Fox News’s “Hannity,” that if he was worried about being politically correct, he wouldn’t have joined the Trump administration.

“I have said that the American people need to know what actually happened. We need to get the story of what happened in 2016 and ’17 now out. That will be done. The second aspect of this is, if people cross the line, if people involved in that activity violated the criminal law, they will be charged,” Barr said.

The attorney general also noted on Tuesday that he held a press conference earlier this year and said that neither former President Barack Obama nor ex-Vice President Joe Biden were likely under investigation.

John Durham
Attorney John Durham speaks to reporters on the steps of U.S. District Court in New Haven, Conn., on April 25, 2006. (Bob Child/AP Photo)

“I will handle these cases as appropriate. And I do not think anything that we do in the Durham investigation is going to be affecting the election,” Barr said on CNN.

Barr promised to abide by guidance (pdf) that states that politics must not play a role in prosecutions, particularly during election years, but challenged the claim that the rule specifically states that nothing should happen in the 60 days before an election.

“The 60 days is not part of the rule,” he said. “But I said that I don’t think anything we’re going to do would violate our policy.”

The first guilty plea from Durham’s probe came in mid-August. Former FBI lawyer Kevin Clinesmith admitted to altering an email from a CIA worker. The message originally stated that Carter Page, a former Trump campaign associate, was a CIA asset, but Clinesmith altered it to say Page was not a CIA asset.

Clinesmith worked with special counsel Robert Mueller’s team, which found no conspiracy or cooperation between Trump’s campaign and Russia.

During the recent Fox appearance, Barr said that there would be “significant developments” with the Durham probe before the Nov. 3 election.

“But we’re not doing this on the election schedule,” he said. “We’re aware of the election. We’re not going to do anything inappropriate before the election. But we’re not being dictated to by this schedule.”

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