Garland’s special counsel approach is very different from Barr’s approach

Attorney General Merrick Garland on Monday dealt with special counsel John Durham’s report that his predecessor, William P. In stark contrast to Barr’s report, he was criticized in 2019 by former federal law enforcement officials and Democrats for his handling of the final report of then-special counsel Robert S. Muller III.

The long-awaited report from Durham moved from Garland’s desk to Congress — and the public — much faster than Mueller’s report four years earlier.

At the time, officials said the delay was due to corrections to be made at Mueller’s agency 448 page report, often to delete information about ongoing investigations or cases. The 306-page Durham Report was written differently as an unclassified document with a 29-page classified appendix that was not made public. And there are no known investigations from Durham’s work.

Durham, a former U.S. attorney from Connecticut, was asked to investigate whether anyone at the FBI broke laws while investigating the Trump campaign in 2016 — essentially an investigation into Mueller’s 2017 subpoena.

Durham’s decisions don’t break any major new ground, taking a more harsh view of law enforcement behavior that the Justice Department’s inspector general strongly criticized in 2019.

Durham’s investigation found no significant criminal wrongdoing. Both cases he brought to trial ended in acquittals. A former FBI prosecutor has agreed to plead guilty to a charge with no jail time.

Conclusion of Durham’s special advisory work Bar is almost four years from the date of his appointment Muller’s work drew immediate comparisons to the fractured finale.

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After receiving Mueller’s report in the spring of 2019, Barr issued a brief memo detailing its key findings, but it took weeks for the bulk of Mueller’s actual findings to become public. Meanwhile, Trump publicly declared victory, Mueller privately complained to Barr that his memo lacked context, and when the Mueller report was finally released and Mueller’s complaints became known, Barr faced a new round of criticism for his handling of the issue.

Special Counsel Robert S. A redacted version of Mueller III’s report was released to the public on April 18, 2019. What’s in it. (Video: Brian Monroe, Monica Akhtar/The Washington Post)

Garland received the Durham report on Friday and sent it to congressional leaders on Monday, with the entire document shared with reporters and posted online. He offers no analysis or summary of his own.

“The difference in the output was stark,” said Mary McCord, who served as assistant attorney general for national security during President Barack Obama’s administration. “Garland did what he said he would do when he retained Durham’s special counsel appointment. He was allowed to continue his work independently of the department.

By contrast, he said, Barr’s memo was “a fraud on the American people.”

Anthony Coley, Garland’s former Justice Department spokesman, said the attorney general “read it by the book — minimal revisions, quick release of the entire report — and left the public to make its own decision. That’s how it should be.”

“Garland faced the challenge of landing Barwin’s flight — this politically motivated investigation, which was meant to appease a sitting president — and to do so in a way that didn’t further politicize the department,” Coley said.

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Barr did not immediately return a call seeking comment. A Justice Department spokeswoman declined to comment.

While Democrats quickly dismissed the Durham report, citing a lack of new revelations, Republicans seized on it in an attempt to make a case for more disclosures about FBI investigations related to President Biden’s family.

Sen. Charles E. In a written statement, Grassley (R-Iowa) said, “The report validates the concerns I have raised since we first learned of the bogus investigation in 2017. The FBI allowed itself to be hijacked and weaponized by political actors to target a political rival during the presidential election and administration. Restoring its integrity, even If possible, it takes humility, transparency and accountability.

The FBI said in a statement that it had already implemented “dozens of corrective actions that have been in place for some time now. Had those reforms been in place in 2016, they could have prevented the wrongdoing identified in the report. With the rigor, objectivity and professionalism that the American people deserve and rightly expect.” The report reinforces the importance of ensuring the FBI continues to do its job.

Frank Figliuzzi, the former FBI assistant director for counterintelligence, called the Durham investigation a failure, but said he expects Republicans to use excerpts of the report to claim victory and paint the FBI in a negative light.

“If the goal was those multiple charges, he failed miserably,” Figliucci said, pointing to Trump’s past predictions that the investigation would uncover significant crimes. “Looks Like Comfort Bites in Political Production for Fox News.”

Partisan battles over how the Justice Department investigates politicians are nothing new. But the stakes have grown significantly in recent years as prosecutors and agents conduct high-profile investigations of presidential candidates, from Hillary Clinton to Trump to Biden.

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In 2019, see Mueller revealed that he did not find any collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian officials seeking to interfere in the 2016 presidential election. Barr said Mueller did not reach a conclusion on whether Trump attempted to obstruct justice, but that Barr had reviewed the evidence and found it insufficient to support such a charge. That determination, in particular, rankled Democrats, who saw it as preempting a question Mueller might have considered for Congress to consider.

Days after Barr’s memo was released, Mueller wrote to the attorney general, complaining that the memo “does not fully capture the context, nature, and substance” of his committee’s work.

The letter urged Barr to quickly release the introductions and executive summaries of the 448-page report.

Republican lawmakers are expected to have Durham testify about his findings, possibly next week. So far, there doesn’t seem to be any tension over the earlier Special Counsel report. In a letter sent to Garland Friday with the report, Durham thanked the attorney general for “allowing us to continue our investigation independently.”

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