There is growing speculation that U.S. Attorney John Durham, the lead prosecutor looking into the origins of the Russia probe and the spying on the Trump campaign, is close to wrapping up his investigation. Once he does, it is unclear whether he will release a report of his findings or issue indictments against one or more individuals if the evidence so warrants.
As reported by the Washington Examiner, several sources have indicated that “Durham may end up waiting until after November to reveal what he has found or to hand down indictments” because Durham does not want his investigation or any decisions to be viewed as “political.” This would be a mistake. There is no question that he should release his findings and issue any necessary indictments before the November elections.
Historically, the Department of Justice has refrained from taking any action for partisan purposes. As reported in Just Security:
Department of Justice employees are entrusted with the authority to enforce the laws of the United States and with the responsibility to do so in a neutral and impartial manner. This is particularly important in an election year.
The Memorandum further states (emphasis added):
As Department employees … we must be particularly sensitive to safeguarding the Department’s reputation for fairness, neutrality and nonpartisanship.
Simply put, politics must play no role in the decisions of federal investigators or prosecutors regarding any investigations or criminal charges. Law enforcement officers and prosecutors may never select the timing of investigative steps or criminal charges for the purpose of affecting any election, or for the purpose of giving an advantage or disadvantage to any candidate or political party.
Apparently, this policy has been interpreted so broadly as to prohibit conduct that could even suggest the appearance of partisanship.
While this policy makes sense overall, it does not make sense in this case for several compelling reasons. First, there is no evidence that Durham’s investigation is partisan in nature or that it is being conducted for partisan political purposes like the Michael Flynn and Roger Stone investigations. Durham’s investigation began long ago and well before Americans were seriously thinking about the 2020 elections.
Second, the purpose of Durham’s investigation appears to align with the department’s mission. Specifically, through his investigation, Durham is seeking to protect the integrity of the election process in the United States. More particularly, Durham is investigating whether one or more people were involved in a plot to sabotage a presidential candidate or to overthrow a duly elected president.
This is not a political issue that “benefits” one party or another. Rather, it is an investigation, the results of which will help Americans of all political leanings. Durham’s findings are vital for all Americans who care about democracy and the integrity of the election process. Americans deserve to know what happened leading up to the 2016 elections.
The fact that Durham’s findings could possibly play a role in how some Americans think about a particular person or party should not dissuade Durham from releasing them before the election. Many things can potentially “influence” an election, such as politicizing a virus, shamelessly blaming the president for tragic deaths, intentionally setting up or targeting people close to the president, and pursuing a baseless presidential impeachment.
If one or more people were involved in a coup to overthrow a duly elected president, Americans deserve to know as soon as possible who was involved and what took place. The fact that Democrats have called for Durham’s resignation and have labelled this investigation “politically motivated” is not surprising given the potential ramifications associated with any “provable” wrongdoing.
Democrats would like nothing more than to delay the release of Durham’s findings. After all, if Joe Biden becomes president, Democrats have a much better chance of burying Durham’s report and, with it, the possibly of any criminal indictments or prosecutions.
Indeed, that was the plan from the beginning. Democrats assumed that Hillary Clinton was going to win the 2016 election and that the coup against President Trump and his campaign would never be discovered. Fortunately, the American public prevented this from happening.
At this stage, nobody other than U.S. Attorney General William Barr really knows what Durham has learned and whether he has enough evidence to indict anyone. Regardless of whether indictments are issued, the American public deserves to know what happened prior, and leading up to, the 2016 elections.
Durham’s investigation is not politically motivated, nor is it partisan. Rather, it is an effort to root out corruption that potentially extends to the highest levels of government. Such corruption tears at the very core of our nation’s democratic system of government, including our right to free and fair elections.