President Biden’s nominee for deputy attorney general Lisa Monaco on Tuesday signaled her support for Special Counsel John Durham to continue his investigation into the origins of the Trump-Russia probe.
During her confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee Tuesday, Monaco committed to providing Durham the necessary resources to continue his probe, which began in the spring of 2019.
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“Mr. Durham has been allowed to stay on, and I have no reason to think that’s wrong,” Monaco said. “As deputy attorney general, it will be my job to make sure he has the resources and I will be committed to doing that.”
Monaco’s response comes after Biden’s nominee for attorney general Judge Merrick Garland also said he saw “no reason” why Durham should not be left in place to complete his investigation.
Durham’s investigation began in May 2019, shortly after special counsel Robert Mueller completed his yearslong investigation into whether the Trump campaign conspired with the Russians to influence the 2016 presidential election.
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Mueller’s investigation yielded no evidence of criminal conspiracy or coordination between the Trump campaign and Russian officials during the 2016 election.
Former Attorney General William Barr, last October, tapped Durham as special counsel to ensure he could continue his investigation during the Biden administration.
In the scope order, obtained by Fox News, Barr stated that Durham “is authorized to investigate whether any federal official, employee, or any other person or entity violated the law in connection with the intelligence, counter-intelligence, or law-enforcement activities directed at the 2016 presidential campaigns, individuals associated with those campaigns, and individuals associated with the administration of President Donald J. Trump, including but not limited to Crossfire Hurricane and the investigation of Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller, III.”
Under U.S. code, the special counsel would produce a “confidential report” and is ordered to “submit to the Attorney General a final report, and such interim reports as he deems appropriate in a form that will permit public dissemination.”
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Garland, during his confirmation hearing, said he is “a great believer in transparency,” when asked about making Durham’s eventual report public, but said he would “have to talk with Durham and understand the nature of what he’s been doing and the nature of his report.”
Durham’s investigation has produced one criminal charge so far, against former FBI lawyer Kevin Clinesmith, who was accused of altering an email related to the surveillance of former Trump campaign aide Carter Page. That prosecution, though, did not allege a broader conspiracy within the FBI, and the conduct it involved had largely been laid out in a Justice Department inspector general report from last December.
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Clinesmith in August pleaded guilty to making a false statement to Durham’s team. The offense carried a maximum term of imprisonment of five years and a fine of up to $250,000.
In January, Clinesmith was sentenced to 12 months probation and 400 hours of community service, and no fine.
The Justice Department relied on Clinesmith’s assertion as it submitted a third and final renewal application in 2017 to surveil Page under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).