Donald Trump is growing impatient. Following the supposed clean bill of health he got from Senate Republicans’ sham trial, Trump thinks it’s time for the Justice Department to start producing. For him. And while Trump’s overt interventions in the sentencing of his allies Roger Stone and Michael Flynn have garnered the most headlines this week, it’s his desperation for the department to manufacture dirt to aid his reelection campaign that’s making life a living hell at the agency.
The chief piece of dirt that Trump wants now and has always yearned for is one he can use to claim the Russia investigation was a politically motivated witch hunt all along. But to date, all the probes initiated to prove that have concluded just the opposite. The department’s Inspector General found no political bias behind the FBI’s initiation of the Russia probe, which included scrutiny of the Trump campaign’s ties to the Kremlin. Trump had been counting on that report, but not to worry. Perhaps the other two inquiries into the Russia investigation led by Utah U.S. Attorney John Huber (tapped by former Attorney General Jeff Sessions) and Connecticut U.S. Attorney John Durham (tapped by current AG William Barr) would deliver. But as the Washington Post reported Thursday, Huber’s years-long probe isn’t turning up any criminal acts either, leaving Durham as Trump’s last great hope for decimating the origins of the Russia probe.
“After learning that the Huber investigation is not likely to produce charges, Trump has become more insistent that Durham finish his work soon,” writes the Post. “Trump, these people said, wants to be able to use whatever Durham finds as a cudgel in his reelection campaign.”
More than likely, Trump’s impatience is what is actually making Barr’s work “impossible,” as he put it in a new interview with ABC News. Beyond tampering with sentencing in the Flynn and Stone cases, Barr has opened an entirely new investigation into the origins of the investigation into Michael Flynn. Barr reportedly tapped another U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Missouri, Jeffrey Jensen, to review the interview FBI agents conducted with Flynn early in Trump’s presidency that ultimately led to a felony count of lying to the FBI, according to NBC News. (Yet another Barr investigate the investigators special.) As luck would have it for Trump, that new inquiry about the Flynn case could involve several of Trump’s favorite archenemies: former FBI Director James Comey and former Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe.
Parallel to that query, Barr has also assembled a team of prosecutors to comb through cases of interest to Trump, no doubt looking for any toeholds that might produce the outcomes Trump wants. The New York Times mentions the Flynn and Stone cases explicitly but also reports some cases under review aren’t public.
Honestly, goodness knows where this team of apparent interrogators is rooting around, but the strains of this micro-managed oversight came into full public view this week when four prosecutors on the Stone case withdrew from it and one quit the Justice Department altogether.
But Barr, who appears to be on the brink of inspiring an insurrection, doesn’t seem particularly concerned about the sudden push back from his staff members. Asked by ABC News about what motivated their withdrawals, Barr gave no indication that he cared.
BARR: I don’t know why they resigned.
ABC NEWS: So you’ve not had a chance to talk to them?
One group of people that is showing an interest in the exit of those prosecutors from the Stone case are House Democrats, who are mulling the idea of trying to secure testimony from them. They absolutely should because there’s clearly far more lurking beneath the surface here at the Justice Department, and the U.S. Attorney’s office for the District of Columbia appears to be at the epicenter of it all.