Senate Democrats blasted U.S. Attorney General William Barr after he broke with the Department of Justice's (DOJ) top watchdog on Monday, Dec. 9 over whether there was enough information to open an investigation into Donald Trump's 2016 presidential campaign. The latest twists pulled Connecticut's Republican U.S. Attorney and New York's senior U.S. senator into the federal fray.
DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz, as part of his report released on Monday, said he thought there was enough evidence to warrant opening up the "Russia probe," while Barr, in a statement, said the FBI had an insufficient basis to justify the investigative steps used.
Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, a Democrat from New York, asked about Connecticut U.S. Attorney John Durham's separate investigation into the origins of the Russia probe.
Durham, the usually tight-lipped Republican prosecutor who Barr appointed to examine the start of the investigation into the Trump campaign in 2016, almost never issues public statements. Yesterday, however, Durham released a written statement immediately after the release of the Horowitz report.
Durham's statement said: “I have the utmost respect for the mission of the Office of Inspector General and the comprehensive work that went into the report prepared by Mr. (Michael) Horowitz and his staff. However, our investigation is not limited to developing information from within component parts of the Justice Department. Our investigation has included developing information from other persons and entities, both in the U.S. and outside of the U.S. Based on the evidence collected to date, and while our investigation is ongoing, last month we advised the Inspector General that we do not agree with some of the report’s conclusions as to predication and how the FBI case was opened.”
Schumer reacted: "When Attorney General Barr picked Durham, I was skeptical because Attorney General Barr has proven to be a mouthpiece for President Trump and his wrongdoing, not an enforce-rule-of-law attorney general."
Schumer added that "if Durham was so non-political, he never would have issued that statement."
Barr was confirmed to serve as Trump's U.S. Attorney by a 54-45 vote, mostly along political party lines.