Flashback: Democrats long trashed Durham probe as 'politically motivated investigation'

Flashback: Democrats long trashed Durham probe as 'politically motivated investigation'

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Democrats who once pushed to protect then-special counsel Robert Mueller to ensure that his Russia investigation would continue without interference sang an entirely different tune when the Trump administration appointed John Durham as special counsel to continue investigating the origins of that same Russia probe.

Durham has already indicted three people as part of his investigation: Igor Danchenko on Nov. 4, 2021, Kevin Clinesmith in August 2020, and Michael Sussmann in September 2021. Durham’s latest court filing on Friday alleges that lawyers from Hillary Clinton‘s 2016 presidential campaign, including Sussmann, paid to access servers belonging to Trump Tower and later the White House in order to establish an “inference” and “narrative” to bring to federal government agencies linking then-President Trump to Russia.

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Photo of John Durham, left, and Michael Sussmann, right.

Photo of John Durham, left, and Michael Sussmann, right. (Perkins Coie)

Durham was appointed special counsel by then-Attorney General William Barr on Oct. 19, 2020, giving Durham a degree of added independence, as he can only be fired by an attorney general or someone acting in that capacity. Barr revealed the appointment on Dec. 1, 2020, about a month after the presidential election.

Democrats like Reps. Adam Schiff of California and Jerry Nadler of New York slammed Barr’s appointment at the time, despite previously calling to protect the special counsel’s office as Mueller conducted his earlier probe, which concluded without finding any evidence to support claims of collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian government.

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., a key member of the House select committee on the Jan. 6 attack, does a tv news interview after preparing most of the day with other committee members, at the Capitol in Washington, on July 26, 2021.

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., a key member of the House select committee on the Jan. 6 attack, does a tv news interview after preparing most of the day with other committee members, at the Capitol in Washington, on July 26, 2021. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

“Barr is using the special counsel law for a purpose it was not intended: to continue a politically motivated investigation long after Barr leaves office,” Schiff, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said in December 2020.

But during Mueller’s earlier investigation, Schiff was eager to protect the special counsel’s office to ensure Mueller could continue the Russia probe without interference. In 2018, he told MSNBC‘s Rachel Maddow that Congress had to “take up a bill to protect Mueller so that we don’t invite a crisis.”

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY) attends a news conference on April 9, 2019 in Washington, DC. 

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY) attends a news conference on April 9, 2019 in Washington, DC.  (Photo by Zach Gibson/Getty Images)

Nadler, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, also slammed Durham’s appointment at the time as “one more desperate attempt to feed President Trump’s fixation on events that have been investigated over and over again.” 

That statement came nearly a year after Nadler introduced legislation to protect Mueller’s earlier investigation from “improper interference.”

Schiff and Nadler, along with House Oversight Chair Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., and House Administration Chair Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., had also sent a letter in September 2020 asking the Justice Department’s top watchdog to open an “emergency” review into Barr’s handling of the Durham probe.

Fox News first reported Saturday a filing by Durham on Feb. 11 that said Clinton campaign lawyers worked with a technology company and “assembled and conveyed” allegations about Trump’s ties to Russia to present to the FBI and a second federal government agency.

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The motion on Feb. 11 focused on potential conflicts of interest related to the representation of former Clinton campaign lawyer Michael Sussmann, who has been charged with making a false statement to a federal agent. Sussmann has pleaded not guilty.

The offices of Schiff and Nadler did not respond to Fox News Digital’s requests for comment.

Fox News’ Ronn Blitzer and Brooke Singman contributed to this report.