In April 2019, Attorney General William Barr announced that he would launch an investigation into the origins of the Mueller Probe on Russian interference in the 2016 election, despite the fact that there was already an investigation open into that topic. CREW requested records about Barr’s communications with U.S. Attorney John Durham, his pick to oversee that investigation, in order to better understand his appointment and impartiality.
Barr has echoed Trump’s suggestion that the FBI “spied” on the Trump campaign, even though there is no evidence to support that claim, which FBI Director Christopher Wray said under oath. Barr picked Durham to lead the investigation, but it is unclear whether the two met before then to discuss the case. If Barr met with Durham, he may have passed his opinions on the rumoured spying to Durham.
CREW sent a Freedom of Information Act request to the DOJ for any documents on meetings or correspondence between Barr and Durham. The requested records would show whether Barr and Durham met before Durham was appointed, which is key to evaluating the impartiality of the investigation’s findings.
Barr’s investigation is redundant, as there is an ongoing DOJ investigation into the origins of the Mueller probe. This raises further questions about the motivation for the additional investigation, and for Durham’s appointment to oversee it. Access to these records will help determine if Barr corresponded with Durham that could affect his leadership of the investigation. It is in the public interest to know whether the Attorney General is opening DOJ investigations to appease the president, and whether the people tasked with overseeing those investigations are impartial.
Update: CREW has received records from the Department of Justice. The DOJ provided six calendar entries indicating a recurring monthly meeting where Barr and Durham were present. Without justification DOJ used the wrong search cut-off date, a move apparently designed to keep secret the nature and extent of the relationship between the Barr and Durham, including the frequency of their interactions. CREW concluded the search was inadequate. Review the records here.
Before receiving the records, CREW also filed a FOIA lawsuit based on the DOJ’s failure to deliver records. As a part of the lawsuit, the DOJ agreed to give CREW records through October 22, 2019. CREW will receive records by the end of February 2020.