U.S. Attorney for Connecticut John Durham is going “full throttle” in his review into the roots of the Russia investigation and is being assisted by two additional prosecutors, Fox News reported Monday.
According to two sources, Jeff Jensen, the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Missouri, and Timothy Shea, the interim U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia, are both helping with Durham’s investigation.
Jensen was tasked by Attorney General William Barr in February to review the case against former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn and is continuing to work with Durham now that the DOJ has dropped the case.
“They farmed the investigation out because it is too much for Durham and he didn’t want to be distracted,” one of the sources told Fox News. “He’s going full throttle, and they’re looking at everything,” the source added.
The DOJ determined that the bureau’s 2017 Flynn interview — which formed the basis for his guilty plea of lying to investigators — was “conducted without any legitimate investigative basis.”
The retired Army lieutenant general for months has been trying to withdraw his plea, aided by a new attorney aggressively challenging the prosecution’s case and conduct.
Documents unsealed by the Justice Department earlier this month revealed that agents discussed the outdated Logan Act as a pretext to interview Flynn in the Russia probe. Officials also discussed whether they wanted to “get him to lie” so he’d be fired or prosecuted, or get him to admit wrongdoing.
Flynn explained in a statement that he finally pleaded guilty to lying federal agents in December of 2017 because of “the intense pressure from the Special Counsel’s Office, which included a threat to indict my son Michael, and the lack of crucial information from my counsel.”
According to Fox’s source, the “pattern of conduct” Durham is investigating also includes the FBI’s abuse of the FISA court to obtain warrants to spy on Trump campaign associate Carter Page.
“Barr talks to Durham every day,” the source said. “The president has been briefed that the case is being pursued, and it’s serious.”
Durham is expected to wrap up his investigation by the end of summer.
President Trump on Friday expressed disgust with the newly released transcripts of interviews from the House Intelligence Committee’s Russia investigation that showed top Obama officials admitting they knew of no “empirical evidence” of Russian collusion even though many of them accused him of having ties to the Kremlin in public interviews.
“It was a very dangerous situation what they did,” Trump said during an interview with “Fox & Friends” Friday. “These are dirty politicians and dirty cops and some horrible people and hopefully they’re going to pay a big price in the not too distant future.”
The transcripts, which were released by House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., revealed top Obama officials were questioned over whether they had or had seen evidence of such collusion, coordination or conspiracy — the issue that drove the FBI’s initial case and later the special counsel probe. They generally said they had not.
“I never saw any direct empirical evidence that the Trump campaign or someone in it was plotting/conspiring with the Russians to meddle with the election,” former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper testified in 2017. “That’s not to say that there weren’t concerns about the evidence we were seeing, anecdotal evidence. … But I do not recall any instance where I had direct evidence.”
Trump on Sunday blasted former President Barack Obama on twitter for spearheading what he called “the biggest political crime in American history, by far.” On Sunday and most of Monday, #ObamaGate trended on Twitter.
The biggest political crime in American history, by far! https://t.co/m5nPdUHt4u
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 10, 2020
Referring to this tweet during a briefing on Monday, Washington Post reporter Philip Rucker asked Trump, “What crime exactly are you accusing President Obama of committing and do you believe the Justice Department should prosecute him?”
Trump replied, “ObamaGate. It’s been going on for a long time. It’s a disgrace that it happened.” The president added ominously, “and from what I understand that’s only the beginning, some terrible things happened.”
Pressed by Rucker to specify what crime Obama potentially committed, Trump said, “You know what the crime is, the crime is very obvious to everybody. All you have to do is read the newspapers, except yours.”
“You’ll be seeing what’s going on in the coming weeks,” he said. “I wish you’d write honestly about it.”
"Obamagate, it's been going on for a long time… It's a disgrace that it happened… Some terrible things happened and it should never be allowed to happen in our country again."
Reporter: "What is the crime?"
Trump: "The crime is very obvious to everybody.” pic.twitter.com/gt4CejO1Qe
— Daily Caller (@DailyCaller) May 11, 2020
Acting Director of National Intelligence Richard Grenell, meanwhile, has declassified a list of former Obama administration officials who were allegedly involved in the “unmasking” of former national security adviser Michael Flynn in his telephone conversations with former Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak during the presidential transition, according to ABC News.
Grenell, who remains the U.S. ambassador to Germany along with being the acting DNI, visited the Justice Department last week and brought the list with him, according to the official.
In 2017, the conservative media highlighted improper unmaskings of various Trump campaign officials by Obama officials, including Susan Rice and Samantha Power.
While the law requires that identifying information of U.S. persons picked up during foreign surveillance be “masked,” high-ranking intelligence officials can request the identities be revealed if they feel the information is necessary to further understand the intercepts.
Former Obama national security adviser Susan Rice has openly acknowledged unmasking the identities of some senior Trump officials during the presidential transition but has strenuously denied ever leaking any identities and said nothing she did was politically motivated.
Declassified text messages between FBI lovebirds Lisa Page and Peter Strzok strongly suggest that Obama was pulling the strings on the anti-Trump operation from the White House.
In a bizarre phone call with thousands of his supporters last week, Obama falsely claimed that Flynn had been charged with perjury, and added inaccurately that “there is no precedent that anybody can find” for someone accused of perjury “getting off scot-free.”
Obama made the incorrect assertions as it became known that he was acutely interested in Flynn’s intercepted December 2016 phone calls with Kislyak, surprising then-Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates in a White House meeting.
An exhibit in the DOJ’s motion to dismiss the Flynn case last week detailed a special counsel interview of former Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates. The interview indicated outgoing President Barack Obama was aware of Flynn’s intercepted December 2016 phone calls with then-Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak during the presidential transition period.
The document noted Yates learned about the calls during a Jan 5, 2017, Oval Office meeting with Obama, Rice, then-FBI Director James Comey, then-CIA Director John Brennan, and then-Director of National Intelligence James Clapper.
After the briefing, Obama asked Yates and Comey to “stay behind,” and said he had “learned of the information about Flynn” and his conversation with Russia’s ambassador about sanctions. Obama “specified that he did not want any additional information on the matter, but was seeking information on whether the White House should be treating Flynn any differently, given the information.”
On Inauguration Day, Rice sent a curious email to herself, and now, in light of recent revelations, Senate Judiciary Committee investigators want to take a closer look at it.
“President Obama said he wants to be sure that, as we engage with the incoming team, we are mindful to ascertain if there is any reason that we cannot share information fully as it relates to Russia,” she wrote in the email about the Jan. 5 meeting with top Obama administration officials.
On his his Fox News show Monday night, Tucker Carlson summed up Obama’s words, thus: “The president of the United States turned to the head of the FBI, the most powerful law enforcement official in America, and said, ‘continue to secretly investigate my chief political rival so that I can act against him.”
Carlson said Obama deserved to be known as “the disgraced former president who used the power of federal law enforcement to hurt his political enemies,” but added that “unfortunately, this is not a normal period” because the corrupt corporate media is so grotesquely biased, reporting the news honestly and fairly is an unrealistic expectation.
“Obama’s plan to derail his successor unfolded with very little opposition along the way, including from Republicans,” Carson noted. “The entire country, therefore, spent the first three years of the Trump administration hyperventilating about Russian collusion.”