It had been widely expected by many that Special Counsel John Durham, who was tasked in 2020 with investigating the origins of the false Trump-Russia narrative, would conclude his probe and issue a final report by the end of this year.
However, a former Obama-era Justice Department official, Matthew Miller, has called upon Attorney General Merrick Garland to first thoroughly review Durham’s report and even delay or withhold its release to the public, the Conservative Brief reported.
Miller thinks Garland should review Durham’s report prior to release
Miller, who served as head of the DOJ’s office of public affairs from 2009-2011, spoke with MSNBC host Alex Wagner about the presumed impending conclusion of Special Counsel Durham’s investigation in an October interview on the network, according to the Washington Examiner.
“His cases are over,” Miller said of Durham. “I think it’s clear that he’s not going to bring any more charges in this investigation, but one of the requirements for special counsels under the regulations is that they write a confidential report and submit it to the attorney general, and the attorney general then makes a decision whether to release that report to the public.”
“I think Merrick Garland will be under a lot of pressure from Republicans to release that report,” he continued, “but I have to say, this circumstance is very different from the Mueller investigation, where, obviously, the attorney general, Bill Barr, did release that report.”
“It’s different because in that case, the subject of that investigation could not be charged, and so it was appropriate for the department to make its findings public, so Congress could decide whether to impeach and convict the then-sitting president,” Miller said.
He added, “That is not the case here, so to release a report in this instance — given what we know about the way that Durham has behaved, some of his inappropriate public statements during this investigation, the poor judgments he has made in bringing these charges — to release a report publicly and let him have the final word I think probably unfairly tarnish some people at the FBI that we know he holds ill will to based on some of the things he said in this most recent trial.”
Garland “would be wise to take a pause”
The Examiner noted at that time that Durham had only achieved a single conviction in his three-year probe, that of former FBI attorney Kevin Clinesmith, while other charged individuals were ultimately acquitted.
Miller told Wagner, “I think the attorney general would be wise to take a pause before releasing that report, maybe let another senior career official at the Justice Department review it and decide whether John Durham really is the person that gets to have the final word on the Russian investigation.”
Of course, efforts by AG Garland to delay the release of any final Durham report would be sharply opposed by Republicans in Congress, who may work to sidestep Garland and demand the release of the report by way of a subpoena.
“He can ignore the pressure if he wants to ignore it,” Miller said of Garland. “What he wouldn’t be able to ignore is a subpoena from Congress. So if the House does change hands, and the Republicans control a committee, they will undoubtedly send a subpoena for this report, and he would eventually have to turn it over.”
“But it does not have to be the last word. Lots of times in the past — there’s ample precedent for this — when reports like this have been written by the Justice Department, the leadership decides whether that actually reflects their view,” he added. “John Durham does not get to be the final arbiter of what the Justice Department believes, so it would be appropriate for Merrick Garland to either review it and come up with his conclusions or, maybe more appropriately, refer it to the senior career official as has been done in the past and let that individual review it and decide whether he believes the conclusions John Durham has drawn, conclusions which we know at least in two public cases have been rejected by juries, are the conclusions that the Justice Department in its considered wisdom actually agrees with and wants to let stand before the public.”
Durham’s probe cost only a fraction of Mueller’s expensive investigation
CNN reported last week that Special Counsel Durham’s yearslong investigation has cost taxpayers at least $6.5 million, and while it has revealed apparent anti-Trump biases and wrongdoing by the FBI, as noted previously by the Examiner, it has largely fallen short in terms of holding any of the alleged wrongdoers accountable.
While that price tag for Durham’s investigation, which is reportedly wrapping up final stages and preparing a written report, may seem like a lot, the outlet noted that Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s two-year probe into alleged Trump-Russia collusion cost taxpayers a whopping $32 million for a similarly unsatisfactory conclusion and minimal relevant charges or convictions.