Special counsel John Durham is not expected to bring charges in connection with the 2017 U.S. intelligence community assessment on Russian interference during the 2016 presidential election.
That's what sources familiar with the investigation told the Wall Street Journal in a report published Tuesday about the grand jury indictment against Michael Sussmann, a cybersecurity lawyer accused of lying to the FBI. He denies any wronging.
Durham was appointed by former Attorney General William Barr to investigate the origins and conduct of the Trump-Russia investigation and was given special counsel status last year in a bid to allow him to continue his work into the Biden administration.
Barr said in the summer of 2020 that he believed Durham was looking into the 2017 U.S. intelligence assessment.
"There was definitely Russian, uh, interference," Barr told the New York Times. “I think Durham is looking at the intelligence community’s ICA — the report that they did in December . And he’s sort of examining all the information that was based on, the basis for their conclusions. So to that extent, I still have an open mind, depending on what he finds."
The 2017 assessment concluded with "high confidence" that Russian President Vladimir Putin “ordered an influence campaign in 2016." According to the report, Russia worked to “undermine public faith" in U.S. democracy, "denigrate" former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, "harm her electability and potential presidency,” and “developed a clear preference" for former President Donald Trump.
The National Security Agency diverged on one aspect, expressing only “moderate confidence” that Putin actively tried to help Trump win. “I wouldn’t call it a discrepancy. I’d call it an honest difference of opinion between three different organizations,” former NSA Chief Mike Rogers told the Senate in 2017. “It didn’t have the same level of sourcing and the same level of multiple sources.”
Durham reportedly interviewed Rogers and former CIA Director John Brennan, who welcomed the opportunity to answer questions about the intelligence assessment in August 2020, according to a former adviser.
“Brennan provided details on the efforts made by the intelligence community to understand and disrupt the actions taken by Russian to interfere in the 2016 presidential election," said Nick Shapiro, Brennan's former deputy chief of staff and senior adviser. Shapiro also said Durham told Brennan "he is not a subject or a target of a criminal investigation, and that he is only a witness to events that are under review."
Durham's endeavor has long been criticized by Democrats and legal observers who claim the inquiry is meant to undercut Robert Mueller's special investigation into alleged ties between the Trump 2016 campaign and Russia. Still, Trump and his allies have championed it as a means to root out corrupt officials to settle political scores.
Durham so far has obtained only a single guilty plea from former FBI lawyer Kevin Clinesmith, who admitted to altering an email about a Trump campaign aide under government surveillance. Recent reports suggest the prosecutor is considering criminal prosecutions of lower-level FBI agents and others as he investigates information provided to the FBI in 2016 that spurred on the Trump-Russia investigation.
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Original Author: Daniel Chaitin