A federal prosecutor who was helping to investigate the origins of the Trump-Russia inquiry has resigned from the Justice Department, a spokesperson said on Friday.
Nora Dannehy was a lead prosecutor on a team led by U.S. Attorney John Durham of Connecticut, who was appointed last year to lead an investigation into how the FBI and other federal agencies have undertaken to ‘investigate Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and whether the Trump coordinated campaign with the Kremlin.
A spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Connecticut confirmed Dannehy’s departure, which was first reported by The Hartford Courant, but declined to comment further.
His departure could complicate the home stretch of an investigation already slowed down by the coronavirus pandemic but eagerly awaited by President Donald Trump and his supporters to uncover what they consider to be wrongdoing within the FBI during the investigation into Russia. This leaves the investigation team without one of its seasoned prosecutors as key decisions presumably await before the investigation is complete.
The appointment of Durham by Attorney General William Barr was made public shortly after the release of Special Advocate Robert Mueller’s report on Russian election interference. For the past year and a half, he has questioned former law enforcement and intelligence officials – among them former CIA Director John Brennan – about decisions made during the Russia investigation. Dannehy had been one of the main leaders of the team, present for interviews with these officials, including Brennan.
The investigation has yet to produce the results Trump supporters were hoping for. There are also pressures to conclude soon given that Justice Department policy frowns on investigative steps that could affect an election, although Barr said that policy would not apply here since the Democratic candidate for election Presidential Joe Biden is not the target of the investigation. It’s also not clear that Durham’s work would be allowed to continue if Trump loses in November and the Democratic leadership takes control of the Justice Department.
Trump himself has indicated he wants results soon, saying at a White House press conference on Thursday that Durham was a “very, very respected man” and that his work would involve a “report or maybe much more than that ”.
The investigation has resulted in a criminal charge to date, against a former FBI lawyer accused of altering an email related to the surveillance of a former Trump campaign aide. But the prosecution did not allege a larger conspiracy within the FBI, and the conduct it involved was extensively exposed in a report by the Department of Justice Inspector General from last December.
It is not clear whether Durham will be able to complete his work before the election, although Barr has not ruled out the possibility of further criminal charges.
In other developments related to the Russia investigation, lawyers linked to the case of former Trump administration national security adviser Michael Flynn made arguments on Friday about how the prosecution should proceed in light of a court of appeal ruling last week.
The court ruled that U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan doesn’t have to dismiss the case just because the Department of Justice wants it. The ruling opened the door for Sullivan to examine the basis for the department’s unusual request, which came even though Flynn had twice pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI.
John Gleeson, the retired federal judge who was appointed by Sullivan to argue against the Justice Department’s position, said in a filing that the case should not be dismissed and called the government’s motion to dismiss ” clearly a corrupt political mission for the president ”.
“There is clear evidence that the government’s request to dismiss the case against accused Michael T. Flynn is based on pure pretext,” Gleeson wrote. “There is clear evidence that this motion reflects corrupt and politically motivated favor unworthy of our justice system.
Flynn pleaded guilty as part of the Mueller investigation to lying about conversations during the presidential transition in which he urged the then Russian ambassador not to escalate tensions in response to the sanctions that had just been imposed for interference in the 2016 elections.
At the time, the FBI was investigating whether the Trump campaign coordinated with Russia to tip the election, and White House officials were publicly saying that Flynn and the diplomat had not discussed sanctions.
The Justice Department sought to dismiss the case in May, arguing that the FBI had no good reason to question Flynn in the first place and that the false statements he might have made during questioning did not were not important to the Trump connections investigation. countryside and Russia.