A top Democrat urged the House’s new panel dedicated to investigating the “weaponization” of the federal government to turn its focus on special counsel John Durham‘s investigation into potential misconduct in the Trump-Russia probe.
In making his plea to House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan (R-OH) on Thursday, Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD) seized on a recent report by The New York Times detailing alleged problems in Durham’s endeavor, which began in 2019 at the behest of then-Attorney General William Barr.
“After four years and millions of dollars spent, the Durham investigation closed as a total flop without unearthing anything like the deep-state conspiracy that Republicans have been denouncing around here for years,” Raskin said.
Durham’s team “couldn’t find anything of substance to it,” Raskin added. “Yet Barr and Durham kept pressing in clearly abusive ways. I hope your subcommittee will investigate.”
Raskin spoke as a witness during the first hearing of the Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government, arguing the panel should let go of “conspiracy theories” and warning there is a “weaponized MAGA campaign” focused on “restoring” former President Donald Trump to the White House. Despite Raskin’s assertion that Durham’s inquiry is “closed,” there is no sign publicly that the prosecutor has completed his probe or given a final report to Attorney General Merrick Garland.
Raskin goes hard on the failed Durham investigation as a clear example of real weaponization of the government pic.twitter.com/HRVi1WYlfs
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) February 9, 2023
The New York Times article published last month claimed a monthslong review found “flaws” in Durham’s inquiry as well as “internal dissent and ethical disputes” that led to resignations by some dissatisfied prosecutors on the team.
Barr condemned the report, saying the New York Times’ reporters “ignored some fundamental facts as to why some of the information that Durham was seeking was very important information.” He also said the article missed “obvious reasons” for Durham’s investigation, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Still, the report by The New York Times gave fuel to Durham’s detractors in Congress. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Dick Durbin (D-IL) threatened an investigation and House Democrats pressed the Justice Department inspector general to start a review to determine whether Barr or Durham “violated any laws, DOJ rules or practices, or canons of legal ethics.”
One particularly explosive part of the article claimed Durham expanded his inquiry in the fall of 2019 to include a criminal investigation into “suspicious financial dealings” tied to Trump in response to a tip from Italian officials. However, the report asserted the details were largely unclear and said this line of inquiry did not result in Durham bringing charges.
In response, Barr insisted the tip “was not directly about Trump” and argued it was appropriate to rope it into Durham’s investigation because “it did have a relationship to the Russiagate stuff. It was not completely separate from it. And it turned out to be a complete non-issue.”
Seemingly unaware of Barr’s comments, Raskin said the inquiry into the Italian tip “mysteriously disappeared without a trace.” Ultimately, he argued House Republicans want to “pick up the baton from the defeated and demoralized Durham team and keep the wild goose chase going today.”