John Durham has been the US Attorney for the District of Connecticut since February 2018 (acting beginning 1 November 2017). A federal prosecutor out of that office since 1983, Durham has built a reputation for handling sensitive cases, including serving as a special prosecutor in the Whitey Bulger case in 1999, during which appointment he obtained the conviction of Bulger’s FBI handler, John J. Connolly Jr. The relationship between Bulger and Connolly was depicted by Hollywood in the 2015 movie “Black Mass.”
Durham has worked for both Republican and Democrat attorneys general. Janet Reno appointed him for the Whitey Bulger investigation. He was appointed by Michael Mukasey in 2008 to investigate the CIA’s destruction of videotapes of prisoner interrogations. In 2009, Eric Holder appointed him as lead investigator in the Obama DOJ's investigation of the CIA’s “enhanced interrogation techniques” that were ably described by Jose Rodriguez, the former Chief Operations Officer for the CIA’s Counterterrorism Center, in his 2013 book, “Hard Measures: How Aggressive CIA Actions After 9/11 Saved American Lives.” Sometime before October of 2018 he was appointed by then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions to investigate criminal leaks within the FBI, and in April 2019, he was appointed by William Barr to investigate the origins of the FBI’s counterintelligence investigation into the Trump campaign in 2016. His authority was later expanded to examine the activities of Obama-era DOJ and FBI officials during the transition period and into the early part of the Trump Administration.
He has earned praise from both sides of the aisle for his “even-handedness” and professionalism in handling organized crime and corruption cases although he has been attacked by Democrat operatives at times in his latest capacity that could very well expose a conspiracy implicating a number of high-ranking Democrats. For example, both of Connecticut's US senators have spoken highly of Durham while also expressing concern that, as noted here, Durham will be corrupted over the course of his latest assignment:
“This investigation of the investigators is a politically motivated distraction,” Democratic Connecticut Sen. Richard Blumenthal said in a statement on May 14 about Durham’s assignment. “And it threatens to degrade the career professionals — like John Durham — who devote their lives to law enforcement. This is an example of another very professional public servant tasked with a very unprofessional and unbecoming job.”
Durham has spent the last 17-18 months examining whether Obama-era DOJ and FBI officials exceeded their authority in corrupting the intelligence used to initiate the FBI’s counterintelligence investigation of the Trump campaign, dubbed “Crossfire Hurricane” – and whether officials potentially committed crimes. During this time, there have been no known leaks from Durham’s team, in contrast to virtually continuous gas-lighting and spinning from former Obama DOJ and FBI officials who are at considerable risk of prosecution, as evidenced from DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz’s report summarizing his investigation into four FISA warrants used by Crossfire Hurricane investigators, as noted here by Jonathan Turley, as well as the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence’s interview transcripts declassified by then Acting Director of National Intelligence Richard Grennell. Included in now declassified records were transcripts of telephone conversations between Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak and Trump National Security Advisor LTG Michael Flynn, which completely undermined the case for both the FBI interviewing Flynn and also continuing investigation of Trump-Russia ties after Inauguration Day 2017, as noted here:
The long-awaited release of the transcripts by the new Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe adds to a growing body of evidence that shows the FBI had no basis to interview Flynn, a retired general, in January 2014 or to continue investigating him at the start of the Trump presidency, experts told Just the News.
"Bottom line: the phone call was a foreign policy discussion on behalf of an incoming president. It is of zero counterintelligence interest or any legitimate concern for the FBI,” former FBI assistant director for intelligence Kevin Brock said.
What might John Durham be doing with that information, about which he has surely known from the beginning of his investigation into Crossfire Hurricane, and, is in the public record? Surely there is more damning information in the form of interview transcripts, emails, and other evidence collected to date!
Apparently, his investigation has begun to bear fruit, as former FBI lawyer Kevin Clinesmith agreed to plead guilty to falsifying an email from the CIA that facilitated the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court’s third approval of the Obama FBI’s application for a third renewal of a secret wiretap on an American citizen. That was a clear violation of an American’s Fourth Amendment protections against unlawful search and seizure!
There has been much speculation that Durham’s team agreed to the Clinesmith plea deal because Clinesmith gave up important evidence (sworn testimony?) important to Durham’s continuing investigation. Whether true or not, that remains to be seen. However, Clinesmith’s plea deal is the first glimmer of hope that Obama Justice Dept and FBI officials (and others?) may finally be held to account for their criminal conduct associated with Crossfire Hurricane. All of the evidence coming into the public record since Durham’s appointment – the Horowitz report, the declassified interview transcripts, and Clinesmith’s plea deal – confirm the early speculation that Crossfire Hurricane and the continuing investigation of the Trump administration led by former FBI director James Comey and acting director Andrew McCabe was a criminal conspiracy involving a number of players.
Again, what must John Durham know at this point that We the People don’t? The evidence in the public record is trending one way – and that is not in the direction of exonerating anyone involved in Crossfire Hurricane, including former President Barack Obama and former Vice President Joe Biden themselves, as noted here! After all, it has been learned that Biden himself even mentioned the Logan Act during that infamous 5 January 2017 White House meeting that included discussions about Flynn. Durham has to know that he is investigating literally the “crime of the century.” What must he be thinking at this point two months out from the most important US election in the last 100 years – if not ever?
Door #1. As an honest and independent investigator, Durham could be simply and methodically following the evidence wherever it may lead, building cases for prosecution through grand jury witness testimonies and other interviews. Experienced former federal prosecutors have remarked that Durham is likely building a conspiracy or RICO Act case that includes a number of individuals – one of the most difficult and complex cases to develop and prosecute. If this is the case, then there can be no self-imposed deadline, which would explain why the only legal action taken so far is the Clinesmith plea deal, as the evidence continues to be collected in an expanding investigation. There is even speculation that there won’t be any Durham indictments (if any) until after the election. At any rate, the investigation is “ongoing” with no real end in sight.
Door #2. There has been some speculation Durham could be cut from the same cloth as Robert Mueller and James Comey, who have been long been fixer and members of the DoJ/FBI “Praetorian guard” who have protected the political class for decades. Mueller’s special counsel activities were as much about covering up Barack Obama/Hillary Clinton actions in 2016-2017 as they were about investigating the supposed (and now debunked) Trump-Russia collusion. And Comey certainly protected Hillary Clinton when he “exonerated” her at the FBI’s conclusion of the sham investigation of her unauthorized email server. Durham surely watched these and other cover-ups over the years, and as a fixer in his own right, Durham could simply be waiting out the election clock with the belief/expectation that the political class will succeed in stealing the election for Joe Biden, and Durham’s investigation can then be quietly concluded in 2021 without any indictments. This would be similar to Durham’s wrapping up of his investigation of the destruction of the CIA witness interrogation tapes after two years without recommending any criminal charges being filed, as noted here.
Door #3. In this door, AG Barr was appalled by the Obama-era election meddling evidence (and more!) uncovered by Durham and has directed that “no quarter be given to anyone who violated a federal statute.” That some of the same people involved in the 2016 meddling are doing so again in 2020 on behalf of Joe Biden is equally appalling to Barr, and he wants all of the 2016 evidence on the table before the country chooses on 3 November. That means that Durham has diligently been pursuing indictments through several standing grand juries. Several contacts with longstanding DOJ and law enforcement ties are adamant that there are sealed indictments already in hand, with Susan Rice’s name being one at the top of the list. These contacts have consistently maintained for months now that there will be indictments “shortly after Labor Day,” with the latest report indicating the end of this week. Of late, the Democrats have been caterwauling about any Durham indictments in September or October violating a supposed DOJ policy not to interfere within two months of an election, but Andrew McCarthy has thoroughly debunked that mythical policy here (there is no 60-day rule). That means that they know something big is coming.
But what does Durham himself think, as a man? He knows he is sitting on the greatest political crime in American history and a mountain of hard evidence, of which we have seen only a glimpse in the public record. He understands that if he succeeds in prosecuting those involved, his name will be in American history books forever, and he will be lauded for all time as an honest federal prosecutor who followed the evidence where it led (but not by Democrats). Conversely, he may be personally compromised in some unknown way and thereby be conflicted and fearful of doing the right thing. The crooks have deep, deep pockets and other forms of leverage (recall Vince Foster and Fort Marcy Park). If he plays the fixer role, he will be forgotten in a few years, except by those of use who will point to him in terms of derision and proof that DoJ really is nothing by the Praetorian guard for the political class – especially Democrats.
I am betting that Durham – and by extension, Barr – are patriots and also want to be in the history books as exemplars of federal prosecutors who dispense equal justice for all. And I am betting on Door #3. We shall soon see.
Stu Cvrk served 30 years in the US Navy in a variety of active and reserve capacities, with considerable operational experience in the Middle East and the Western Pacific. An oceanographer and systems analyst through education and experience, Stu is a graduate of the US Naval Academy, where he received a classical liberal education. This functions as the key foundation for his political commentary. He threads daily on Twitter on a wide range of political topics, such as the military, foreign policy, government, economics, and world affairs. Twitter: @STUinSD