This week, news broke that Bill Barr had officially appointed John Durham Special Counsel in order to allow him to continue his investigation under a probable Joe Biden administration. That investigation centers on government corruption regarding the Trump-Russia saga, though the mandate is as broad as Robert Mueller’s was. That means he can essentially pursue whatever he finds.
While the appointment is certainly welcome news given the alternative (i.e. it being shut down completely in January), the timing was a surprise to many. According to Barr’s letter, Durham had in fact been appointed to the position on October 19th, 2020. For over a month, and before the election, the move had been kept completely secret.
If the appointment of Robert Mueller was done completely out in the open, including being known during a crucial election season in 2018, why should things have been any different for Durham’s appointment? Didn’t voters deserve to know that the investigation had escalated in such a way that it dictated increased independence and protection for the investigator?
Instead, we were lead to believe via a series of leaks that Durham had essentially decided to close up shop, forgoing on charging several criminal acts that had already been made public. While I’m not suggesting it would have made a huge difference in the election, I’m sure there were some people who felt disillusioned by such news. Had we known that Durham was in fact now a special counsel, it could have been another spark heading into the election.
It’s also worth noting that this being kept so quiet makes the DOJ look even more political. When something could hurt Trump, it always leaked out over the last four years.
The major liberal newspapers had a direct pipeline into the department. But every careerist who had access to this newest information suddenly decided to keep their mouths shut precisely. You’d be forgiven for assuming that’s because it could have actually helped Trump for this to get out.
What exactly was the play here? Barr had the chance to be consistent, revealing this appointment immediately just as other special counsels were treated and giving voters a chance to react to it. Hiding it is not a good look, and I think he should have to answer for that. This idea that he didn’t want to interfere in an election doesn’t wash.
It was interference to not have all the facts out in the open. Every time something like this happens, Republicans only become more skeptical of the DOJ and FBI, and rightly so. Trump should demand to know what the purpose of the timing here was and why he was denied what Democrats were given in 2018 by the very same department. Namely, public transparency.