GOP senators want Justice Department official ‘biased’ against Durham inquiry to recuse himself
RRepublican senators are demanding answers from Attorney General Merrick Garland on Susan Hennessey’s role in the Department of Justice’s national security division, pointing to her “bias” shown in comments criticizing John Durham’s investigation.
Hennessey, a former NSA lawyer, was selected in May for a key role at the DOJ. The former CNN contributor and editor of the Lawfare blog has always defended the Trump-Russia investigation.
Senators Chuck Grassley and Ron Johnson mentionned they want answers from the DOJ because Hennessey “has repeatedly and publicly expressed partisan comments on previous and current investigations, including the Department of Justice Inspector General’s review of Crossfire Hurricane and the investigation into course of Special Advocate John Durham, raising concerns that she is in conflict and should be barred from such investigations.
Senators said in December 2020 that Hennessey “expressed a clear partisan bias” when she tweeted: “Durham made it clear that in a year and a half he hadn’t invented anything. I guess that kind of partisan silliness has become hallmark of Barr’s legacy, but I don’t understand why Durham would want to accept it.
Grassley and Johnson have said that “Hennessey’s bias against the Durham inquiry presents a clear conflict which prevents it from being objective.”
Hennessey too mentionned in September, “The Durham Inquiry offers an opportunity for bad actors to do a lot of nonsense.”
Trump attorney general William Barr quietly appointed Durham will be special adviser in October after giving him the task in May 2019. Garland refused to promise during his confirmation hearing that he would protect the Durham investigation or make his report public.
The Durham Criminal Investigation reported a to plead guilty. Former FBI attorney Kevin Clinesmith has admitted to forging a document during the office’s efforts to renew his FISA tenure against former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page.
Republican senators also said that Hennessey “has expressed a great deal of public opinion in favor of the fundamentally flawed investigation into Crossfire Hurricane and vouched for the Steele case.”
They pointed out a Lawfare Publish from January 2017, in which Hennessey wrote that the ex-British spy was “someone working intelligence professionals take seriously”. Hennessey said, “The president and president-elect are not briefed on things the intelligence community does not think is at least credible. His post also claimed that Steele had compiled his notes “on behalf of anti-Trump Republicans and later Democrats working against Trump,” which is false. Steele put his research together at the behest of GPS fusion, funded by the Hillary Clinton campaign.
“If the reports that a FISA order was obtained are correct, it means the FBI has developed a lot more evidence than just this private brief on the point,” Hennessey wrote.
Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz said Steele’s case played a “central and essential” role in the search for FISA surveillance and that the FBI’s interviews with the main sub-source de Steele “raised important questions about the reliability of reporting on Steele’s election.”
Grassley and Johnson said Hennessey “attacked” Horowitz’s “credibility” to “discredit” the report. Tweeter in which she said: “There are increasing signs that there are serious problems with the IG report and questions as to whether it is designed to be an honest account of the IG views or a political document motivated by Barr’s conspiracy theories.
Horowitz critical DOJ and FBI for 17 “material errors and omissions” Related to the FISA warrants, for having concealed potentially exculpatory information and for the confidence that the office places in the file.
Grassley and Johnson pointed to comments made by Hennessey about the 2018 FISA memo from GOP Representative Devin Nunes that “exposed the fundamental flaws of Crossfire Hurricane.” Hennessey tweeted in January 2018 that the “demystification process [the memo] will be thorough but will take enough time for the damage caused by the widespread confusion to be caused. “
The Republican note found that Steele’s anti-Trump dossier was an essential part of FISA nominations and that the political origins and prejudices of the Steele dossier were known to senior officials but excluded from FISA nominations.
Senators concluded: “Hennessey’s partisan comments show a clear political bias that undermines his ability to work impartially on certain issues … including the Durham Inquiry.”
Hennessey Told CNN in December 2018, “It can be said without exaggeration that if Donald Trump was not currently President of the United States, he would be indicted or he would be imminently. “
Hennessey tweeted, “This is actually a very big deal” and that “the first concrete allegation of collusion with the Trump team” after a Washington Post reporter tweeted in June 2017, a “GOP agent searched for Clinton emails from Russian hackers, suggesting he was working with Mike Flynn.” Hennessey wrote in a foreign policy article, “It definitely moves the ball of collusion on the ground.” It wrote a 2019 article for Lawfare titled “Mueller Report Calls for Impeachment Inquiry.”
Investigation by Special Counsel Robert Mueller concluded Russia interfered in a “broad and systematic fashion” but “has not established that members of the Trump campaign have conspired or coordinated with the Russian government.”
The American lawyer chosen by Barr for see again the Flynn case said in May 2020 that he “concluded that the proper and fair course was to dismiss the case.” Hennessey wrote in Lawfare that it was “An Ugly Day for the Department of Justice”.
When fired FBI attorney Peter Strzok testified in July 2018, Hennessey defended him by asserting that House Republicans “cannot even conceive of the possibility that anyone could place duty and institutional integrity above basic political and personal interests.”
Hennessey too wrote a June 2017 article for Lawfare titled “By Sharing Memos Comey Did Nothing Wrong As A Former Public Servant And All Is Well As A Whistleblower.” But Horowitz critical the fired FBI director, saying in 2019 that “what was not permitted was the unauthorized disclosure of sensitive investigative information, obtained during the course of FBI employment, in order to achieve a personally desired result” .
Johnson and Grassley asked Garland to tell them by July 13 if Hennessey had a role in the Durham investigation, if she had access to aspects of Durham’s work and if she would be disqualified from the Durham case.
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Original author: Jerry dunleavy