Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer accused U.S. attorney John Durham of political partisanship on Monday in response to Durham’s statement disagreeing with the Department of Justice’s Inspector General’s findings on the origins of the FBI investigation into the 2016 Trump campaign.
“If Durham was so nonpolitical, he never would have released that statement,” Schumer said. “When Attorney General Barr picked Durham, I was skeptical, because Attorney General Barr has proven to be a mouthpiece for President Trump and his wrongdoing, not a enforce-rule-of-law attorney general, and Durham’s statement today confirms that.”
Department of Justice Inspector General Michael Horowitz released a report Monday on his investigation into the origins of the FBI’s Russia probe in which he found that the investigation was properly predicated but nonetheless suffered from “serious performance failures.” The report identifies 17 instances in which the FBI misled the FISA court through commission or omission when applying for a warrant to surveil former Trump-campaign adviser Carter Page.
Durham, appointed earlier this year by Barr to head a wide-ranging probe into the origins of the Russia investigation, issued a rare statement to distance himself from Horowitz’s findings.
“Our investigation has included developing information from other persons and entities, both in the U.S. and outside of the U.S. Based on the evidence collected to date, and while our investigation is ongoing, last month we advised the Inspector General that we do not agree with some of the report’s conclusions as to predication and how the FBI case was opened,” Durham’s statement concludes.
Schumer helped unanimously appoint Durham as a U.S. attorney in 2018 and Senator Richard Blumenthal (D., Conn.) called him “a fierce, fair prosecutor” that “dedicated his life to public service and the pursuit of justice” during his confirmation. He has long maintained a reputation for principled work free of partisanship.
Schumer also hammered Republicans for becoming the “conspiracy caucus” over allegations that the FBI was politically motivated in opening its investigation, emphasizing Horowitz’s claim that his team “did not find documentary or testimonial evidence that political bias or improper motivation influenced the decisions to open” the initial investigations into the Trump campaign.
Whether it’s the three years they spent embracing a baseless conspiracy or recent examples of promoting Putin’s false talking points, it’s sad how, in an effort to protect the president at all costs, the ‘Grand Old Party’ in the Senate is becoming the ‘conspiracy caucus.’
— Chuck Schumer (@SenSchumer) December 9, 2019
Horowitz clarified in his report that “our role in this review was not to second-guess discretionary judgments by Department personnel about whether to open an investigation, or specific judgment calls made during the course of an investigation, where those decisions complied with or were authorized by Department rules, policies, or procedures.”
“If the explanations we were given for a particular decision were consistent with legal requirements, policies, procedures, and not unreasonable, we did not conclude that the decision was based on improper considerations in the absence of documentary or testimonial evidence to the contrary,” the report states in its introduction.
Durham, by contrast, has a broader mandate to examine the entirety of the FBI’s decision making process surrounding the opening of the investigations into four Trump campaign staffers.
In October, Barr defended Durham and the probe after criticism from Democratic lawmakers when it was upgraded into a criminal inquiry.
“He’s a 35-year veteran of the department, great reputation for non-partisanship. He was selected by two Democratic attorney generals to do sensitive investigations for them,” Barr said of Durham, the U.S. Attorney for Connecticut. “He’s a by-the-book kind of guy. He’s thorough and fair, and I’m confident he’s going to get to the bottom of things.”