United States Attorney and Special Counsel John Durham is slated to testify Wednesday before the House Judiciary Committee. In his recent report, Durham found that the FBI failed to uphold strict adherence to the law. That could also be said about other players in the ongoing drama. Consider, for example, former U.S. Attorney General William Barr, who appointed Durham in the first place.
“I made it clear that neither President Obama nor Vice President Biden were in Durham’s crosshairs,” Barr explains in One Damn Thing After Another: Memoirs of an Attorney General. Here is an Attorney General who holds some people above the law, including Joe Biden. The Delaware Democrat should have been one of Durham’s primary targets.
On January 12, 2017, Vice President Biden made a request to “unmask” General Michael Flynn, President Trump’s pick for national security advisor. The request would expose Flynn to scrutiny under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). U.N. Ambassador Samantha Power made seven unmasking requests for Flynn. CIA boss John Brennan, a Communist Party voter in the 1976 presidential election, made two requests to unmask Flynn, and director of national intelligence James Clapper put in three.
FBI boss James Comey set a perjury trap for Flynn, which led to charges of lying to the FBI. The establishment media presumed Flynn guilty, a tool of Russia and so forth. The case wound up in court under federal judge Emmet Sullivan, a 1991 appointee of George H.W. Bush to the District of Columbia Court of Appeals.
When FBI misconduct finally came to light, the Department of Justice dropped the case against Flynn. Judge Sullivan opposed the dismissal and appointed former federal judge John Gleeson, a 1994 Bill Clinton pick, to argue that the Justice Department decision to drop the case was improper.
It was entirely illegal for FBI lawyer Kevin Clinesmith to alter a document about Carter Page, exposing the Trump campaign associate to surveillance under FISA. Clinesmith faced a maximum five years in prison and a $250,000 fine but D.C. Circuit Judge James Boasberg gave him only a year’s probation, a small fine, and community service.
Boasberg also served as presiding judge of the FISA court, which operates in secret. Boasberg was able to slip back into his circuit court robe and let Clinesmith off with a tap on the wrist.
“The FISA court is a judicial body with no parallel in American history. A group of judges operating in complete secret and issuing rulings based solely on the government’s arguments.” That was the contention of Senator Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and in the same hearing Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) said the FISA court “exercises vast invisible power.” On the other hand, FISA is hardly the only shadowy entity in John Durham’s investigation.
In 2016, veteran Sovietophile Nellie Ohr, wife of Associate Deputy Attorney General Bruce Ohr, was embedded with Fusion GPS, compiler of the infamous dossier on Donald Trump. As investigative reporter John Solomon notes, during the 2016 election Nellie Ohr “was a robust source of Russia information for her husband and his colleagues inside the DOJ, at the same time her employer was trying to smear Trump.”
Nellie Ohr met with anti-Trump former British spy Christopher Steele the day before the FBI launched its Trump-Russia probe. Nellie wasn’t eager to talk about what had transpired, but it did emerge that, while the probe was ongoing, husband Bruce Ohr received a $28,000 performance bonus.
According to Department of Justice Inspector General Michael Horowitz, Bruce Ohr failed to advise his direct supervisors or Justice Department bosses that he was communicating with Steele and Glenn Simpson of Fusion GPS. Ohr was also requesting meetings with the FBI’s Deputy Director and Crossfire Hurricane team on matters that were outside of his areas of responsibility.
Such deceptive conduct, for partisan purposes, seems outside the strict adherence to the law that Justice Department officials swear to uphold. The Department of Justice was conducting a disciplinary review of Ohr when he suddenly retired on September 30, 2020.
By all indications, Bruce Ohr never faced criminal charges. Neither did Kevin Clinesmith, Peter Strzok, Lisa Page, James Comey, or Andrew McCabe. The former FBI deputy director was fired for lying about leaking information about Hillary Clinton’s home-brew server. But in October of 2021, the Justice Department granted McCabe his full pension and other benefits. FBI forger Kevin Clinesmith served no jail time and in 2021 his license to practice law was restored.
These all “failed to uphold strict adherence to the law,” and Biden and Obama were not in John Durham’s crosshairs. That is no surprise from William Barr, whose book praises Robert Mueller and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who appointed Mueller to investigate Trump.
“Few can appreciate the complexities Rod faced during that tumultuous time,” writes Barr, “and even fewer will know the important contributions he made to the administration and the country.”
On Wednesday, somebody might ask John Durham about Rosenstein’s important contributions to the country. Ask Durham why so many of those in his crosshairs got away with breaking the law. Are the current president and vice president also above the law?
So many questions, so few answers.