Earlier this month, Kevin McCarthy announced the creation of a new “Weaponization of the Federal Government” select committee aimed at investigating overreach by the Justice Department. One case that House Republicans are likely to ignore is Special Counsel John Durham’s probe into the Russia investigation, despite The New York Times reporting on Thursday that Durham and former Attorney General Bill Barr, who appointed him, may have abused their investigative powers in a litany of ways, including by using sketchy Russian intelligence to gain access to the emails of an aide to Hungarian billionaire George Soros, a frequent target of right-wing conspiracies.
Durham was tasked by Barr in 2019 with overseeing a DOJ investigation into the origins of the Trump-Russia Investigation, particularly the credibility of intelligence reports upon which the investigation was based. According to the Times, at one point in the investigation Durham seized on dubious Russian intelligence memos in order to target Leonard Benardo, the executive vice president of Soros’ Open Society Foundations.
The memos, which were provided to the CIAby Dutch intelligence partners, suggested that Benardo had emailed Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) to discuss a promise from former Attorney General Loretta Lynch to obstruct probes into the 2016 hack of Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s hacked emails. Both Benardo and Wasserman Schultz deny such a conversation ever took place.
According to interviews conducted by the Times, despite significant factual inconsistencies in the memos being raised by investigators, the special counsel reportedly went to great lengths to obtain information on the contents of Benardo’s emails. When a Judge struck down a request from his office to access the information, citing a lack of evidence compelling enough to overwrite privacy laws, Durham reportedly attempted to circumvent her decision through a grand jury. While the Times was unable to ascertain if Benardo was subpoenaed by Durham, he did voluntarily provide the special counsel with the requested information.
The matter proved fruitless.
Circumventing judicial rulings in an attempt to establish a connection between the Clinton email investigation and George Soros isn’t the only potential ethical breach uncovered by the Times. Barr and Durham quietly expanded — then dropped — an investigation into potentially criminal “suspicious financial dealings related to Mr. Trump” in 2019. The Times also confirmed that several sudden resignations from members of the investigative teams stemmed from ethics concerns regarding flimsy criminal indictments.
Barr was installed as attorney general shortly after Trump fired his then AG Jeff Sessions, ostensibly for failing to act on his complaints regarding Special Counsel Robert Muller’s investigation into his relationship with Russia.
Durham’s three-and-a-half year probe has shown itself to be primarily a giant waste of time and resources. It’s the exact type of partisan witch hunt one might think a House committee on the “Weaponization of the Federal Government” might want to investigate, but Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), who will run the subcommittee is unlikely to bring it to the table. Jordan, a devout Trump loyalist, repeatedly lauded the Durham investigation, and publicly affirmed his belief that the probe would result in criminal penalties for those under Barr and Durham’s scrutiny.
Jordan told Fox Newsost Sean Hannity on Tuesday that as Judiciary Committee Chair he will continue to probe allegations of corruption in the Justice Department and FBI as related to the Russia probe. “The highest levels of the FBI are now functioning in a political fashion,” he said.