September 28, 2022

In Brief: Durham’s Protect-the-Establishment Approach

There must be consequences to illegally attacking conservatives or the attacks will continue to escalate.

Many conservatives dared to hope that Special Counsel John Durham would use his reportedly methodical and tenacious skillset to hold accountable the deep staters most responsible for the Russian collusion hoax used to great effect against Donald Trump. The slow pace, small fish, and failure to win convictions have tempered that enthusiasm. Worse, says political analyst Margot Cleveland, Durham is proving to use the entirely wrong approach in today’s political environment.

Special Counsel John Durham continues to ignore the FBI’s malfeasance in the Crossfire Hurricane targeting of Donald Trump, a Friday court filing by prosecutors in the criminal case against Igor Danchenko confirms. While that approach may have been prudent and in the country’s best interests three and a half years ago, when then-Attorney General Bill Barr tasked Durham to investigate the origins of the Russia collusion hoax, it is no longer judicious.

The special counsel’s failure to appreciate this reality threatens the government’s case against Danchenko, but more significantly has spurred the Biden administration, the D.C. deep state, and partisan state officials to further weaponize the criminal justice system against their political enemies.

Cleveland points to the fact that Durham has made only three criminal prosecutions since May 2019, and none were important players. Kevin Clinesmith was slapped on the wrist, Michael Sussman was acquitted, and Danchenko hasn’t even gone to trial yet. Cleveland details each case, as we have likewise done in the preceding links, before delving into the “once-defensible mindset.”

While some critics on the right frame Barr and Durham’s failure to prosecute more broadly as proof that their goal has always been to protect the establishment and cover up wrongdoing, an honest assessment of the former attorney general’s words and conduct suggests a different answer — one that was reasonable and prudent at the time but can no longer be justified.

She quotes Barr at length, who made a good case for the prudent approach, before continuing:

Barr’s goal … appeared to be to return the DOJ and FBI to their proper role, where everything is “about the law, and the facts and the substance,” and “to make sure that government power is not abused and that the right of Americans are not transgressed by abusive government power.” …

But Barr and Durham’s high-minded approach to prosecutorial discretion did not stop the vicious cycle. On the contrary, the tepid approach to prosecuting those who abuse government power to target political enemies emboldened the DOJ, FBI, and intelligence community’s intrusion into politics and its interference in elections.

Crossfire Hurricane looks like child’s play compared to the FBI’s direct interference in the 2020 election, as recently revealed by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg: The FBI lied to tech giant Facebook, and presumably also Twitter and others, that the about-to-drop Hunter Biden laptop story was Russian disinformation, causing the “free press” to censor a story damaging to the politically favored Democrat candidate. …

Since then, and following Biden’s election, the DOJ and FBI have gone nuclear in political targeting, with the Biden administration running a redo of the Russia collusion hoax to raid Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home. Yet even after personally seeing the DOJ and FBI’s deceit, Barr believes the narrative peddled to justify the search and only hopes his successor, Attorney General Merrick Garland, will act prudentially, keeping in mind that “this is a former president.” Prudence has no place in the calculus, however, because the latest targeting of Trump appears as political as every former get-Trump effort.

Cleveland concludes:

When Barr joined the Trump administration as AG in 2019, his apparent approach to righting the DOJ and FBI appeared eminently reasonable: Expose and remove those engaged in misconduct; reestablish the criminal process as sacrosanct, ensuring there is no political interference; and prove to the public, political appointees, and career employees that the DOJ will not be “used as a political football” by exercising prosecutorial discretion cautiously and by sparingly resorting to the criminal process to obtain justice. Durham’s similar approach to probing Crossfire Hurricane and Mueller’s investigation likewise rested within the realm of “reasonableness.”

But what was judicious nearly three and a half years ago proves foolhardy today because Barr and Durham’s discretion taught the left only one lesson: There will be no consequences to those who abuse the justice system to attack conservatives.

Read the whole thing here.

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