John Durham announced his resignation as the U. S. attorney for Connecticut but remains a special counsel as he reviews the origins of the Russia investigation.
“My career has been as fulfilling as I could ever have imagined when I graduated from law school way back in 1975. Much of that fulfillment has come from all the people with whom I’ve been blessed to share this workplace, and in our partner law enforcement agencies,” Durham said Friday. “My love and respect for this Office and the vitally important work done here have never diminished. It has been a tremendous honor to serve as U. S. Attorney, and as a career prosecutor before that, and I will sorely miss it.”
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The website for DOJ’s special counsel’s office notes that Durham is leading it, and it now lists him as running the investigation out of the main Justice Department building on Pennsylvania Avenue. Dena Iverson, the principal deputy director for the DOJ’s office of public affairs, confirmed with the Washington Examiner that Durham will still remain in his special counsel role.
Attorney General William Barr quietly appointed Durham to be special counsel in October after first assigning him to the task in May 2019, providing him extra protections from a new administration seeking to cut short his work. Republican allies of Trump lauded the criminal inquiry into the Russia investigation, while some Democrats and national security veterans panned it as being tainted by politics.
In a move that is typical with incoming administrations, President Biden asked all Senate-confirmed U. S. attorneys for their resignations, with Durham being asked to step down as U.S. attorney but to stay on as special counsel.
A DOJ official said Delaware U.S. Attorney David Weiss was also an exception, with acting Attorney General Monty Wilkinson asking him to stay on as he investigates Hunter Biden, the son of the president.
Biden’s nominee for attorney general, Judge Merrick Garland, declined to promise the Senate Judiciary Committee directly during a confirmation hearing that he would protect Durham’s investigation nor make his report public, though he said he didn’t currently have any reason to think it wasn’t the right move to keep the prosecutor from continuing his work.
Durham’s criminal inquiry has netted just one guilty plea so far, with former FBI lawyer Kevin Clinesmith admitting to editing a CIA email in 2017 to state that 2016 Trump campaign adviser Carter Page was “not a source” for the CIA when it had told the bureau on multiple occasions that Page had been an “operational contact” for the agency. Clinesmith was sentenced to probation.