“James Comey Wrote a Letter in 2016. What Will Bill Barr Do?”
“Two investigations appear to be potential fodder for pre-election political machinations.”
Op-ed by Ryan Goodman and Andrew Weissmann, in The New York Times:
“Today, Wednesday, marks 90 days before the presidential election, a date in the calendar that is supposed to be of special note to the Justice Department. That’s because of two department guidelines, one a written policy that no action be influenced in any way by politics. Another, unwritten norm urges officials to defer publicly charging or taking any other overt investigative steps or disclosures that could affect a coming election.
“Attorney General William Barr appears poised to trample on both. At least two developing investigations could be fodder for pre-election political machinations. The first is an apparently sprawling investigation by John Durham, the U.S. attorney in Connecticut, that began as an examination of the origins of the F.B.I. investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election. The other, led by John Bash, the U.S. attorney for the Western District of Texas, is about the so-called unmasking of Trump associates by Obama administration officials. Mr. Barr personally unleashed both investigations and handpicked the attorneys to run them.
“But Justice Department employees, in meeting their ethical and legal obligations, should be well advised not to participate in any such effort.”
“What can be done if Mr. Barr seeks to take actions in service of the president’s political ambitions? There are a variety of ways for Justice Department employees in the Trump era to deal with improper requests. Employees who witness or are asked to participate in such political actions — who all swore an oath to the Constitution and must obey department policies — can refuse, report and, if necessary, resign. Other models include speaking with Congress under subpoena or resigning and then communicating directly to the public. Reputable organizations are at the ready to advise whistle-blowers about the risks and benefits of pursuing these paths.
“Above all, with the election around the corner, it’s critical to ensure its integrity and that the Justice Department steer clear of political interference.” Read more of the full story.
Mr. Goodman, co-editor in chief of Just Security, and Mr. Weissmann, a senior prosecutor in the Mueller investigation, teach law at N.Y.U.
“Trump administration’s probe of the Russia investigation may be nearing conclusion”
“The prosecutor in charge, Connecticut U.S. Attorney Durham, has asked to interview ex-CIA Director John Brennan, says a person familiar with the request.”
“Attorney General William Barr told Congress last month that he would not wait until after the election to present Durham’s findings if they are finalized. Barr has made clear he believes Obama administration officials acted wrongfully when they opened a counterintelligence investigation into the Trump campaign’s dealings with Russians, but the Justice Department’s inspector general found that the investigation was justified and untainted by political bias,” By Ken Delanian, NBC News. Read more