White House correspondent John Roberts offers a news roundup on ‘Special Report’
Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., once called for legislation to protect then-special counsel Robert Mueller to ensure that his Russia investigation would continue unimpeded, but now he is railing against Attorney General William Barr’s appointment of a special counsel to continue investigating the FBI’s actions in the early stages of that same Russia probe.
Barr recently announced that prior to November’s election, he named Connecticut U.S. Attorney John Durham as special counsel for the investigation of the Russia probe that Durham was already leading. As a U.S. attorney, Durham is subject to being relieved of his duties when President-elect Joe Biden takes office. His investigation could also be shut down by the next administration.
As special counsel, however, Durham would enjoy a degree of added independence, as he could only be fired by an attorney general or someone acting in that capacity.
“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 said in a Tuesday statement.
During Mueller’s investigation, however, Schiff was eager to protect the special counsel’s office at all costs to ensure Mueller could continue the Russia probe without interference.
In 2018, Schiff told MSNBC‘s Rachel Maddow that Congress had to “take up a bill to protect Mueller so that we don’t invite a crisis.”
In this image from video, House impeachment manager Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., speaks during the impeachment trial against President Trump in the Senate at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Friday, Jan. 24, 2020. (Senate Television via AP)
In the end, Mueller was able to conclude the years-long investigation. It resulted in convictions unrelated to any allegations of unlawful cooperation between the Trump campaign and Russia, and failed to produce evidence to support any claims that the campaign was working with a foreign government.
Schiff was not convinced, even when the investigation was over.
“Undoubtedly there is collusion,” Schiff told the Washington Post after Barr had published a summary of Mueller’s report.
Schiff, who is chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, went on to lead impeachment efforts against President Trump regarding allegations that he tried to withhold funds to pressure Ukraine into investigating Biden.
Durham’s probe has already resulted in a guilty plea from former FBI attorney Kevin Clinesmith, who had been accused of doctoring an email that was used to help secure a warrant to monitor former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page.
Whether or not Durham is even legally permitted to be appointed as special counsel has also been questioned by Schiff and others. A special counsel is supposed to be someone from outside the Justice Department, they say, and Durham was already part of the DOJ.