Attorney General Bill Barr said on Sunday that the Justice Department’s investigation into the origins of the Russia investigation will likely yield ‘developments’ before the fall.
Barr was asked about the progress of the probe being led by John Durham, the US Attorney from Connecticut.
Durham is believed to be looking into whether top Justice Department officials broke the law by engaging in surveillance and other information-gathering techniques against Trump campaign officials in 2016 and early 2017.
The nation’s top prosecutor told Fox News that he was surprised by the lack of media interest in Durham’s investigation, particularly after a Justice Department watchdog revealed errors and omissions in the FISA application process that led to the surveillance of a Trump campaign official.
‘So that has been surprising to me, that people aren’t concerned about civil liberties and the integrity of our governmental process in terms of the future of Durham’s investigation,’ Barr said.
Attorney General Bill Barr (above) said on Sunday that he expected a Justice Department investigation into the origins of the Russia probe to yield ‘developments’ before the end of the summer
‘You know, he’s pressing ahead as hard as he can.
‘And I expect that, you know, we will have some developments hopefully before the end of the summer.’
Barr said that the coronavirus pandemic has somewhat hampered Durham’s work, which is expected to continue after the presidential election in November.
The attorney general added that ‘what happens after the election may depend on who wins the election.’
Barr did not give specifics, but he did say that the probe is focusing on the transition period after Trump’s election victory in 2016.
That was when the Justice Department under then-President Barack Obama became aware that Michael Flynn, the incoming national security adviser, was in contact with Russia’s ambassador to the United States.
Flynn’s name came up in intercepts of the ambassador’s phone calls through a process known as ‘unmasking.’
During his interview with Fox News on Sunday, Barr hinted that the Obama administration was up to wrongdoing.
‘I would say it’s unusual for an outgoing administration, high level officials, to be unmasking very, you know, very much in the days they’re preparing to leave office,’ Barr said.
‘Makes you wonder what they were doing.’
Barr appointed U.S. Attorney John Durham (above) to investigate the origins of the FBI’s Trump-Russia probe, and see whether it was executed on solid legal footing
The Justice Department last month moved to dismiss its case against Flynn, who pleaded guilty as part of Robert Mueller’s investigation to lying to the FBI about his contacts with the Russian ambassador during the presidential transition period.
In January, Flynn filed court papers to withdraw his guilty plea, saying federal prosecutors had acted in ‘bad faith’ and broken their end of the bargain when they sought prison time for him.
Initially, prosecutors said Flynn was entitled to avoid prison time because he had cooperated extensively with the government, but the relationship with the retired Army lieutenant general grew increasingly contentious in the months before he withdrew his plea, particularly after he hired a new set of lawyers who raised misconduct allegations against the government.
Justice Department officials say they’ve concluded that Flynn’s interactions with the diplomat, in which the men discussed sanctions imposed on Russia for election interference, were appropriate and that there was insufficient basis for the FBI to interview him.
The officials say Flynn’s statements to the FBI were not material to the broader counterintelligence investigation into the Trump campaign and Russia.
But the judge presiding over the case may not grant the department’s wish to dismiss the case.
Instead, US District Judge Emmet Sullivan appointed a retired jurist to evaluate whether Flynn should be held in criminal contempt.
The judge’s order is the second signal registering his resistance to swiftly accepting the Justice Department’s motion to dismiss all charges against Flynn.
In his order, Sullivan appointed former federal judge John Gleeson as an amicus curiae — or friend-of-the-court — and asked him to explore whether Sullivan should hold Flynn in ‘criminal contempt for perjury.’
A retired judge this month urged a federal court not allow the Justice Department to dismiss its criminal case against President Donald Trump’s former adviser Michael Flynn, who pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his Russia contacts
Gleeson said in a filing earlier this month that the move to dismiss the case amounted to an abuse of power.
He urged Sullivan to deny the motion and argued that Flynn had committed perjury.
Barr said on Sunday that Sullivan has failed in his role, which is to be impartial in the case.
‘Well, as I’ve said, you know, we disagree with what he’s doing,’ the attorney general said.
‘We think the law is clear that it is within the discretion of the executive, the executive branch’s function and the attorney general’s function to make charging decisions and determine whether to continue on a case.
‘And the judge is supposed to be a neutral judge on the case, not…exercise the prosecutor’s function.
‘So we’re hopeful that the case will be dismissed. We think that’s what the law requires.’
Durham is a veteran federal prosecutor with decades of Justice Department experience.
He’s investigated FBI corruption related to the handling of Boston mobster Whitey Bulger and later the CIA’s harsh overseas interrogations of terror suspects.
He was named last year by Barr to investigate the origins of the Russia investigation.
Durham’s investigation is one of multiple inquiries the department has undertaken in connection with the FBI’s probe into potential coordination between Russia and the 2016 Trump campaign.
Those include an internal review of the Justice Department’s handling of the Flynn investigation, and an inspector general report that was issued last December.
Earlier this month, Barr has said that Durham’s probe into the origins of the FBI’s Trump-Russia investigation is looking at ‘some’ individuals who will be familiar to the American public.
Barr said that the Durham team ‘has been working very aggressively to move forward,’ and that there ‘will be public disclosure’ of his findings.
Barr would not say for certain that criminal charges would be filed as a result of Durham’s investigation.
President Donald Trump continues to rail against the Russia probe as a ‘witch hunt’ and ‘hoax,’ and has not ruled out pardoning Flynn