Barr ‘Disappointed’ by Danchenko Acquittal but Optimistic About Pending Durham Report
The acquittal of Igor Danchenko was disappointing but special counsel John Durham’s pending report should shed additional light on the U.S. counterintelligence investigation into former President Donald Trump and Russia, former Attorney General William Barr said on Oct. 19.
Barr, speaking on Fox News, said Durham’s team was handicapped by how the judge overseeing the Danchenko case ruled against including some evidence, and how Sergei Millian, a key witness, decided against testifying.
“I was disappointed, obviously. I think they did a good job prosecuting the case,” Barr said. “Their ability to put evidence on in a very difficult case was limited by some rulings. They weren’t able to get access to some witnesses overseas, so it was a tough case. And this should show people that it’s hard to win these cases and sometimes it takes time to achieve justice.”
After U.S. District Judge Anthony Trenga, the George W. Bush appointee overseeing the case, threw out one of five counts and jurors acquitted Danchenko of the four others. Danchenko was charged in 2021 with lying to the FBI in interviews regarding contact with Charles Dolan, a longtime Clinton family associate, and Millian, a pro-Trump businessman.
But the trial itself served the public because key facts that were previously unknown or largely unconfirmed, such as the FBI offering dossier author Christopher Steele $1 million to confirm any portions of the dossier, Barr argued.
“The real public interest here was being served by exposing the full extent of the corruption that was involved in the Russiagate and the abuse by the FBI in that whole episode,” Barr said, referring to Crossfire Hurricane, the investigation of possible links between Trump and his campaign and Russia.
“And I think Durham is going to get a report out that’s going to lay out all the facts,” Barr added.
Barr was the attorney general during part of the Trump administration. Before leaving the post, Barr appointed Durham, a U.S. attorney, as special prosecutor to probe the origins of Crossfire Hurricane.
Durham was authorized to probe whether government officials or private persons violated the law in connection with the investigation or others like it that were directed at 2016 presidential campaigns, including the investigation done by former special counsel Robert Mueller.
Durham’s probe has led to just three people being charged. Former FBI lawyer Kevin Clinesmith admitted to doctoring an email to state that Carter Page, a one-time Trump campaign associate, was not a CIA asset when the original email stated that he was. Clinesmith avoided jail time.
A jury acquitted Michael Sussmann, a former Clinton campaign lawyer who told the FBI he was not bringing information to the bureau on behalf of a client when he later acknowledged under oath before Congress that he was acting on behalf of a client. And jurors just found Danchenko not guilty.
The future of Durham’s probe remains unclear. The special counsel did not speak to reporters after the verdict.
“While we are disappointed in the outcome, we respect the jury’s decision and thank them for their service,” Durham said in a written statement. “I also want to recognize and thank the investigators and the prosecution team for their dedicated efforts in seeking truth and justice in this case.”
Durham must produce a final report to Attorney General Merrick Garland, a Biden appointee, explaining certain decisions he made and other matters. Garland could withhold the report or release it to the public.
Garland told members of Congress in an earlier hearing, after being asked about the report, that “I would like as much as possible to be made public.”
“I have to be concerned about Privacy Act concerns and classification, but other than that, the commitment is to provide a public report, yes,” he said.