Outgoing National Intelligence Director John Ratcliffe on Thursday urged President-elect Joe Biden not to fire special counsel John Durham, who is investigating misconduct in the FBI’s Russia investigation of President Trump.
Attorney General William Barr revealed Durham’s appointment Tuesday.
“My hope is that John Durham, with all of the documents that I have provided in connection with his investigation from the intelligence community, will provide the full accounting and for there to be folks held accountable that should be,” Ratcliffe told Fox News in an interview.
“I certainly hope that whoever is running the Justice Department in 2021 will allow these answers to be fully accounted for before the American people.”
Durham, currently the US attorney for Connecticut, will have autonomy to investigate and prosecute possible crimes. He can only be fired by the US attorney general for “misconduct, dereliction of duty, incapacity, conflict of interest, or for other good cause, including violation of Departmental policies.”
Firing a special counsel carries political risk. Trump allegedly asked then-White House Counsel Don McGahn to fire special counsel Robert Mueller, whose probe ultimately found no evidence Trump conspired with Russia. But McGahn didn’t follow through due to an anticipated political firestorm.
Trump allies wanted Durham to complete his work and issue a report before the Nov. 3 election. But defenders of the delay said that it meant more criminal charges remained possible.
In August, Durham announced former FBI lawyer Kevin Clinesmith would plead guilty to falsifying records to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.
Trump recently fumed at the pace of declassification of documents dealing with the Russia investigation, but Ratcliffe told Fox there simply isn’t much more he has to release.
Ratcliffe said most documents held by the intelligence community already have been released by him or his predecessor, former acting intelligence director Ric Grenell. But he said there remain “a significant number of documents” not held by spy agencies that “relate to the counterintelligence investigation at the FBI and at the Justice Department.”
“The documents I have declassified reveal that there are folks in the Biden — or, the Obama-Biden administration, senior national security folks that were aware of the fact that there was no collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign — no intelligence that supported that,” Ratcliffe told Fox News.
Some documents released by Ratcliffe contain substantial redactions that impede public understanding of events and their context, including heavily redacted documents about then-CIA Director John Brennan briefing then-President Barack Obama in 2016 about a claim that Hillary Clinton orchestrated false Russia smears against Trump.
Trump allies allege a possibly prominent role by Biden in the FBI’s Russia investigation.
A Jan. 4, 2017, note attributed to disgraced FBI operative Peter Strzok implicates the then-vice president in selecting the never-used Logan Act of 1799 as a rationale to keep open an investigation of Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn that the FBI was ready to close. Flynn, pardoned last week by Trump, pleaded guilty in late 2017 to lying to FBI agents including Strzok and agreed to cooperate in the FBI probe of Trump.