- A veteran prosecutor working on Attorney General William Barr's investigation into the origins of the Russia probe resigned from the Justice Department on Thursday, The Hartford Courant reported.
- The prosecutor, Nora Dannehy, reportedly resigned amid concerns that Barr was exerting inappropriate political pressure that investigators release their findings before the November election, even though their work is not yet done.
- Dannehy's colleagues told The Courant that she does not support President Donald Trump and had been concerned for weeks by Barr's actions.
- The attorney general has repeatedly cast doubt on the origins of the Russia probe and suggested that the FBI should not have launched the investigation and that it was inappropriately "spying" on Trump's 2016 campaign.
- An independent investigation into the matter by the Justice Department's inspector general found no evidence of illegal spying and also concluded that the bureau had an "authorized purpose" in launching the Russia probe.
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A prosecutor who was working on the Justice Department's investigation into the origins of the FBI's Russia probe has resigned from the department, The Hartford Courant reported on Friday.
The prosecutor, Nora Dannehy, resigned amid concerns that Attorney General William Barr is pressuring investigators to produce a final report before the election, even though their work is not done, colleagues told the Courant.
The Justice Department, under Barr's leadership, opened an investigation into the Russia probe's origins last year, shortly after he was confirmed as attorney general. Barr is overseeing the inquiry and appointed John Durham, the US attorney in Connecticut, to determine whether prosecutors or senior DOJ and FBI officials broke the law while conducting the Russia investigation.
According to the Courant, Dannehy worked with Durham for decades and is a veteran prosecutor who's highly respected by her colleagues. She initially left the department over ten years ago but came back when Durham asked her to work on his investigation. She reportedly announced her resignation from the DOJ in a brief email to colleagues on Thursday evening.
Dannehy's colleagues told The Courant that she does not support Trump and had been concerned for weeks by what she viewed as political pressure from Barr for Durham's team to produce a report on its investigation before the November general election.
Barr has repeatedly cast doubts on the origins of the investigation, which examined Russian interference in the 2016 US election and whether members of President Donald Trump's campaign conspired with the Russian government to tilt the race in his favor.
He falsely claimed last year that the FBI was inappropriately "spying" on the Trump campaign — a talking point the president and his allies have also widely circulated — and suggested that the investigation was part of an effort to undermine Trump.
An independent probe into the matter by the Justice Department's inspector general, Michael Horowitz, uncovered no evidence that the bureau illegally spied on the Trump campaign. It also concluded that the FBI had an "authorized purpose" in launching the Russia probe, though it did find "significant inaccuracies and omissions" in the bureau's application for a warrant to surveil a Trump campaign aide.
Shortly after Horowitz's report was released, Barr and Durham publicly voiced their disagreement with its findings and said the FBI was not justified in opening the investigation into Russia's interference and the Trump campaign in 2016.
"The FBI launched an intrusive investigation of a U.S. presidential campaign on the thinnest of suspicions that, in my view, were insufficient to justify the steps taken," he said in a statement. Barr added that law enforcement officials overstepped their boundaries when they investigated Trump and that the president did nothing wrong.
The attorney general also released a misleading letter to the public in March 2019 summarizing the findings of the FBI's Russia probe, which was spearheaded by the special counsel Robert Mueller. Barr said that Mueller found "no collusion" between the Trump campaign and Russia, and he also concluded that Trump did not obstruct justice in Mueller's probe.
Mueller's final report contradicted both of Barr's claim. "Collusion" is not a legal term, and Mueller's report determined that there was not sufficient evidence to charge anyone associated with the Trump campaign for conspiring with the Russian government. Legal scholars pointed out that saying there was not "sufficient evidence" did not mean there was no evidence.
On obstruction, Mueller's team wrote that it declined to make a "traditional prosecutorial judgment" on whether the president sought to thwart the Russia inquiry. But it emphasized that this finding "does not exonerate" Trump, adding that if they "had confidence" that "the president did not commit a crime," they would have said so.
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