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Aide to Durham Resigns from Russia Investigation Probe, Conflict with Push from Barr Blamed

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Aide to Durham Resigns from Russia Investigation Probe, Conflict with Push from Barr Blamed

2020-09-14 12:10:23

By Laura Tucker, Staff writer; Image: John Durham (Image source: Public domain)

While it was good news last month for the probe Attorney General William Barr is pushing of the Russia investigation, this month the news may not be so good. Last month the investigation led to the first arrest, and Barr promised more significant moves before the election. However, and aide involved in the probe is resigning, with the push from Barr to have results by November to blame.

Shortly after former special counsel Robert Mueller turned in his final report of the Russia investigation, one which did not bring any permanent harm to Donald Trump, Barr assigned U.S. Attorney John Durham to look into the now-completed investigation. He's looking to prove the president's claim that the FBI illegally spied on his campaign.

Durham tapped federal prosecutor Nora Dannehy, who has worked with or for him for many years, as a top aide in his probe. Colleagues in the U.S. attorney's office in New Haven received an email Thursday evening alerting them that she would be resigning. The short email said nothing about pressure or her work on Durham's team.

She is a career prosecutor who worked with Durham before she left the office about 10 years ago and headed to a corporate position in the defense industry. Durham brought her back into the U.S. attorney's office, and just weeks later she joined his team to probe the FBI's Russia investigation.

She was known for building complex corruption cases against big-name politicians when she was an assistant U.S. attorney in Connecticut. Two of those she convicted are former Connecticut Gov. John Rowland and former state treasurer Paul Sylvester. She was sent to Washington in 2008 to investigate whether prosecutors in then-President George W. Bush's Justice Department had been fired for political reasons.

Dannehy's colleagues have said she is not a Trump supporter and has had concern recently of what she saw as pressure from Barr to produce results in the probe before the November election. They also said resigning was something she'd been considering for weeks. Her conflict involved loyalty to Durham and her concern about politics.

There has been nothing revealed so far regarding the work by Durham's team. Associates of his, though, who do not have specific knowledge of the investigation, have said recently that they believe he is under pressure to produce something before the election in November. They believe the probe group will be disbanded and the work thrown out if Trump is not reelected.

Dannehy was initially told to expect to work on the probe from six months to a year, according to colleagues, but it's now gone past a year. This is partly because of complications that arose because of the coronavirus pandemic. Team members have since been working long hours, pressured to produce results, said the colleagues.

Last month the team's work led to the arrest of former FBI attorney Kevin Clinesmith. He's accused of doctoring DIA emails about Carter Page, a Trump campaign adviser. Years earlier Page had agreed to act as a source for the CIA and provide information about Russians he had met in the business world.

The CIA had written in the memo to the FBI that Page was a source. Clinesmith altered the memo to say he had not been a source. This allowed an order for a wiretap of Page to be granted.

Trump and allies have rallied around Clinesmith's arrest as evidence of the president's claim that his campaign was being surveilled illegally and that there is no truth to the claim that his campaign had worked with Russia to ensure he was elected.

Barr has hinted that the Clinesmith arrest was just the beginning and that something more significant would be announced before the election. 

He is also under fire as he increasingly makes moves to help Trump, his campaign, and allies, with special attention to the Russia investigation. It's believed by Trump critics that the probe is being manipulated to help him in the polls.

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