U.S. Attorney General William Barr sat for a lengthy hearing before the House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday and faced a series of contentious questions from Democrats on the panel.
Among the topics discussed repeatedly was an ongoing investigation by U.S. Attorney John Durham into the origins of the Russian collusion probe, prompting Barr to clarify that the upcoming election has no bearing on when a summary report would be finished and publicly released, as reported by the Washington Examiner.
“Neither candidate is under investigation”
U.S. Rep. Debbie Murcarsel-Powell (D-FL) challenged Barr to postpone any such move until after Election Day.
“Under oath, under oath, do you commit to not releasing any report by Mr. Durham before the November election?” she asked.
Barr made it clear that he would not make that commitment and emphasized the importance of being “careful” in regard to the timing of the Durham report’s release.
After a brief back-and-forth between the congresswoman and attorney general, the latter spelled out his position that the election would not be compromised under any circumstance.
“Any report will be, in my judgment, not one that is covered by the policy and would disrupt the election,” Barr added. “I’ve already made it clear that neither candidate is under investigation.”
“Especially in an election year”
Barr released a memo in February stressing the importance of removing even the appearance of partisan impropriety in the pursuit of Justice Department cases as the nation headed toward a presidential election.
“The Department has long recognized that it must exercise particular care regarding sensitive investigations and prosecutions that relate to political candidates, campaigns, and other politically sensitive individuals and organizations — especially in an election year,” he wrote.
The attorney general went on to assert that his department also “remains committed to ensuring that this fall’s elections are conducted in a fair manner that is free from inappropriate influences.”
As for the timing of Durham’s report, Barr and others have hinted that it could be ready by the end of summer. While no declared candidates are believed to be included in the ongoing investigation, bureaucrats and officials within the orbit of the Obama administration could be among the U.S. attorney’s targets.
The fact that Democrats are now hoping to stall its conclusion until after the election suggests they might be very concerned about what Durham has uncovered.