Any report compiled by special counsel John Durham “may not be as broad as we want it to be,” warned a leading Republican congressman, who nevertheless expects more prosecutions.
Rep. Devin Nunes, the ranking member on the House Intelligence Committee, made the observation as he assessed what remains to be seen of the inquiry into the origins and conduct of the Russia investigation. The long duration of the special counsel investigation has frustrated former President Donald Trump, who often asks about Durham’s progress.
But the lawmaker said he remains confident in the work the prosecutor is doing, largely hidden from the public view.
“I’m still positive, and I guess I have to be, that people are going to go to jail, and they are going to be prosecuted for the Russia grand fiasco and the Russia hoax,” Nunes told the Sara Carter Show podcast.
He also acknowledged bad behavior may be uncovered that won’t necessarily be criminal, which would provide reason for congressional overseers to make changes they see fit.
Durham has run the politically charged investigation since the spring of 2019, which means it has lasted longer than special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia inquiry. Under the Biden administration, Durham left his role as the U.S. attorney in Connecticut but was allowed to continue the investigation following his appointment as special counsel.
At the time, then-Attorney General William Barr said Durham should submit interim reports as he deems appropriate, as well as a final report once he has concluded his investigation so the public can learn what he has uncovered.
President Joe Biden’s attorney general, Merrick Garland, declined to promise during a confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee in February that he would protect Durham’s investigation or make any eventual report public. However, Garland said he didn’t have any reason to think it wasn’t the right move to allow Durham to continue his work.
Nunes alluded to a report as he talked about high expectations for Durham’s findings.
“It may not be as broad as we want it to be,” the California Republican said, offering a rare public assessment of what may come from Durham. “But look, there are some major perpetrators. I think, as you and everybody else know, we’ve made over 14 criminal referrals. That doesn’t mean 14 individuals. That means 14 different criminal referrals involving multiple individuals.”
He also asserted that Durham “has the power,” and therefore, his inquiry “shouldn’t be corrupted.” But, Nunes added, if Garland does inhibit Durham’s efforts in any way, “That would be a big issue, especially if Republicans get control back of the Congress because we have subpoena power.”
Much to the chagrin of Trump and his allies, Durham has so far secured only one guilty plea. FBI lawyer Kevin Clinesmith, who has since left the bureau, admitted to Durham in the summer of 2020 he falsified a document during efforts to renew its Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act authority to wiretap former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page by editing a CIA email in 2017 to state that Page was “not a source.”
Page denied any wrongdoing and was never charged with a crime.
Clinesmith was sentenced to one year of probation and no prison time. The Office of Disciplinary Counsel in Washington, D.C., reached an agreement last month with Clinesmith that his admitted criminality does not constitute “moral turpitude” and his law license should be suspended for just one year.