EXCLUSIVE: U.S. Attorney John Durham is under pressure to wrap up his investigation into the origins of the Russia probe by the end of the summer, but if he doesn’t, he could wait to reveal his findings or initiate prosecutions until after the 2020 presidential election, Fox News has learned.
Two sources familiar with Durham’s investigation told Fox News this week that Durham is working expeditiously to try to finish the probe by the end of summer, but that several lines of investigation are not yet complete.
“He believes it’s critical to do them,” one source said. “He is feeling more pressure to get this done and wrapped up.”
The source also told Fox News that Durham “does not want this to be viewed political,” and the closer it gets to November, Durham could “punt it to after the election.”
A spokesman for Durham declined to comment on the status of the investigation.
The president himself on Thursday appeared to express anger over the Russia probe, tweeting "PROSECUTORIAL MISCONDUCT!" and lamenting how "it is a disgrace that nothing happens."
Some Republicans are pushing for the probe to come to a conclusion soon. Earlier this week, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley said it was “SAD” that Attorney General Bill Barr and Durham could wait until after Election Day to initiate prosecutions.
"@realDonaldTrump #CommonSense IF NO PROSECUTIONS TIL AFTER ELECTIONS SAD SAD //just think Flynn Mueller Impeachment/ The deep state is so deep that ppl get away w political crimes/Durham shld be producing some fruit of his labor [sic]," Grassley tweeted.
Grassley added: "Barr recently said 'this is the closest we have ever come to an organized effort to push a president out of office ' leads me to think Durham wont report any prosecutions til after election so as not influence vote. SAD SAD.”
That was an apparent reference to Barr's comments on Fox News' "Special Report" in June.
"I think before the election, I think we're concerned about the motive force behind the very aggressive investigation that was launched into the Trump campaign without, you know, with a very thin, slender reed as a basis for it," Barr told Fox News' Bret Baier. "It seemed that the bureau was sort of spring-loaded at the end of July to drive in there and investigate a campaign.”
But, Barr later announced in an exclusive interview with Fox News' Maria Bartiromo that Durham's investigation of the Russia probe's origins will likely yield "developments" before summer is over, despite delays caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
Barr told Fox News last month that Americans be able to recognize "some" of the names under investigation in Durham's probe, and that he is "very troubled" by "what has been called to" his attention so far. Among other issues, Durham is reviewing whether federal agencies abused their surveillance powers to pursue figures associated with the Trump campaign.
A source told Fox News that the "pattern of conduct" Durham is investigating includes misrepresentations made to the FISA court to obtain warrants to surveil Trump campaign associate Carter Page.
Last month, former Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein -- who oversaw the investigation by Special Counsel Robert Mueller -- testified that he would not have signed a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act warrant renewal application for former Trump campaign aide Carter Page had he known about since-revealed "significant errors" in in the document.
Mueller’s investigation yielded no evidence of criminal conspiracy or coordination between the Trump campaign and Russian officials during the 2016 election, though the question of whether Trump obstructed justice was left open in the final report.
Following Mueller’s investigation, Barr appointed Durham to then investigate the origins of the FBI’s original Russia probe, which began in July 2016, through the appointment of Mueller in May 2017.
Durham’s team includes a number of federal prosecutors, including Jeff Jensen, the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Missouri who was tapped by the DOJ in February to review the case against Michael Flynn. In May, Barr also tapped U.S. Attorney for Western Texas John Bash to launch a more focused review on the process of unmasking.
The Justice Department also revealed that Durham, himself, is investigating the unmasking of Trump campaign associates as part of his broader review. That line of investigation was confirmed after Grassley, R-Iowa, and Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., made public a list of Obama officials who purportedly requested to “unmask” the identity of Michael Flynn, who at the time was Trump’s incoming national security adviser.
Unmasking occurs after U.S. citizens' conversations are incidentally picked up in conversations with foreign officials who are being monitored by the intelligence community. The U.S. citizens' identities are supposed to be protected if their participation is incidental and no wrongdoing is suspected. However, officials can determine the U.S. citizens' names through a process that is supposed to safeguard their rights. In the typical process, when officials are requesting the unmasking of an American, they do not necessarily know the identity of the person in advance.
The roster featured top-ranking figures including then-Vice President Joe Biden, then-FBI Director James Comey, then-CIA Director John Brennan, then-Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, and Obama’s then-chief of staff Denis McDonough.
Barr, though, has said that he does not expect Durham's findings will lead to a “criminal investigation” of either former President Barack Obama or former Vice President Joe Biden -- while noting that their concern of “potential criminality” in the conduct of that probe is “focused on others.”
Barr, earlier this year, said that “not every abuse of power, no matter how outrageous, is necessarily a federal crime.”
“As for President Obama and Vice President Biden, whatever their level of involvement based on what I know, I don’t expect Durham’s work will lead to a criminal investigation of either man,” Barr said. “Our concern of potential criminality is focused on others.”
Meanwhile, sources told Fox News that Durham’s team had been doing their work out of New Haven, Conn. amid the coronavirus pandemic.