Last Thursday the NY Times broke the story that John Durham’s administrative review of the Crossfire Hurricane investigation into the Trump campaign had itself become an investigation. That story also contained some criticism of Barr’s involvement:
Mr. Barr is closely managing the Durham investigation, even traveling to Italy to seek help from officials there to run down an unfounded conspiracy that is at the heart of conservatives’ attacks on the Russia investigation — that the Italian government helped set up the Trump campaign adviser who was told in 2016 that the Russians had damaging information that could hurt Clinton’s campaign.
But Italy’s intelligence services told Mr. Barr that they played no such role in the events leading to the Russia investigation, Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte of Italy said in a news conference on Wednesday. Mr. Barr has also contacted government officials in Britain and Australia about their roles in the early stages of the Russia investigation.
A short time after the story was published, Reps. Schiff and Nadler released a joint statement saying the story raised “profound new concerns” about the DOJ’s independence.
If the Department of Justice may be used as a tool of political retribution, or to help the President with a political narrative for the next election, the rule of law will suffer new and irreparable damage.
Joint statement w/ @RepAdamSchiff
— Rep. Nadler (@RepJerryNadler) October 25, 2019
Sen. Mark Warner was also critical of the news and suggested AG Barr needed to explain himself to Congress:
Senate Intel is wrapping up a three-year bipartisan investigation, and we've found nothing remotely justifying this.
Mr. Barr's "investigation" has already jeopardized key international intelligence partnerships.
He needs to come before Congress and explain himself. https://t.co/hl9qM86QrM
— Mark Warner (@MarkWarner) October 25, 2019
Today, Barr gave an interview to Fox News in which he defended the Durham investigation and said it was operating independently:
Barr, speaking Monday to Fox News on the sidelines of a law enforcement event in Chicago, rejected Democrats’ claims he is acting as Trump’s personal lawyer.
“That’s completely wrong and there is no basis for it, and I act on behalf of the United States,” Barr said.
The attorney general said that while he’s assisting in connecting Durham with countries that could have valuable information, Durham is running the show.
“He is in charge of the investigation, I’m not doing the investigation,” Barr said, while describing Durham, the U.S. attorney for Connecticut, as “thorough and fair” and saying he’s making progress.
As for testifying before Congress about the investigation, Barr went on to say it was too early for that:
Barr said, “It wouldn’t be appropriate at this stage for me to discuss the Durham investigation.” He said he’d “certainly inform the public and Congress” when possible.
As for the direction of the investigation, he said: “We’ll let the chips fall where they may.”
If Democrats are so confident this is all a nothing burger, why do they seem so eager to discount this before it’s complete? Let Durham do his job and if he comes up with nothing you can say ‘I told you so.’ There’s no point in raising doubt about the investigation before we even know what it’s about. Here’s the interview with Barr: