It looks possible AG Bill Barr is trying to pull a sneaky fast-one against President Trump and the American people. Because what Barr is claiming to do, he really isn’t doing.
According to a stunning article by Associated Press, AG Bill Barr appointed John Durham as a special counsel on October 19th, and did not tell anyone.
[…] Barr told The Associated Press on Tuesday that he had appointed U.S. Attorney John Durham as a special counsel in October under the same federal statute that governed special counsel Robert Mueller in the original Russia probe. He said Durham’s investigation has been narrowing to focus more on the conduct of FBI agents who worked on the Russia investigation, known as Crossfire Hurricane.
[…] “I decided the best thing to do would be to appoint them under the same regulation that covered Bob Mueller, to provide Durham and his team some assurance that they’d be able to complete their work regardless of the outcome of the election,” Barr said Tuesday. (Link)
Today the Attorney General notifies congress in a letter:
However, here’s the issue… under DOJ regulations [28 cfr 600] a special counsel must come from “outside government“; so did John Durham resign his position prior to the appointment, or has Bill Barr just given the appearance of a special counsel appointment while knowing the legal validity of it will collapse upon challenge?
“(a) An individual named as Special Counsel shall be a lawyer with a reputation for integrity and impartial decisionmaking, and with appropriate experience to ensure both that the investigation will be conducted ably, expeditiously and thoroughly, and that investigative and prosecutorial decisions will be supported by an informed understanding of the criminal law and Department of Justice policies. The Special Counsel shall be selected from outside the United States Government. Special Counsels shall agree that their responsibilities as Special Counsel shall take first precedence in their professional lives, and that it may be necessary to devote their full time to the investigation, depending on its complexity and the stage of the investigation.” (link)
Obviously Bill Barr is not stupid, he would know the regulations he cites would require the special counsel to come from “outside the U.S. government”, so what gives?
(AP cont..) A senior Justice Department official told the AP that although the order details that it is “including but not limited to Crossfire Hurricane and the investigation of Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III,” the Durham probe has not expanded. The official said that line specifically relates to FBI personnel who worked on the Russia investigation before the May 2017 appointment of Mueller, a critical area of scrutiny for both Durham and for the Justice Department inspector general, which identified a series of errors and omissions in surveillance applications targeting a former Trump campaign associate.