UNITED STATES NEWS

Former federal prosecutor who resigned from Trump-Russia probe says she left over concerns with Barr

Sep 20, 2023, 12:22 PM

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — A former top federal prosecutor who resigned from the investigation into the origins of the Trump-Russia probe said Wednesday she left because of her concerns with then-U.S. Attorney General William Barr’s public comments about possibly releasing an interim report before the 2020 presidential election and the fact that she strongly disagreed with a draft she had seen.

“I simply couldn’t be part of it. So I resigned,” Nora Dannehy told Connecticut state legislators during her confirmation hearing as a nominee to the state Supreme Court. It marked the first time Dannehy has spoken publicly about her sudden resignation from the probe overseen by former special counsel John Durham.

Durham, a former U.S. attorney for the District of Connecticut, was appointed in the spring of 2019 by Barr to investigate potential wrongdoing by government officials and others in the early days of the FBI probe into ties between the Trump 2016 presidential campaign and Russia. Trump expected the investigation to expose what he and his supporters alleged was a “deep state” conspiracy to undermine his campaign, but the slow pace of the probe – and the lack of blockbuster findings – contributed to a deep wedge between the president and Barr by the time the attorney general resigned in December 2020.

The investigation concluded last May with underwhelming results: A single guilty plea from a little-known FBI lawyer, resulting in probation, and two acquittals at trial by juries.

Dannehy, who was the first woman to serve as U.S. attorney for the District of Connecticut, told Connecticut lawmakers that politics had “never played a role” in how she was expected to carry out her job as a federal prosecutor and “that was the Justice Department I thought I was returning to” when she ultimately joined Durham’s team.

“I had been taught and spent my entire career at Department of Justice conducting any investigation in an objective and apolitical manner,” she said. “In the spring and summer of 2020, I had growing concerns that this Russia investigation was not being conducted in that way. Attorney General Barr began to speak more publicly and specifically about the ongoing criminal investigation. I thought these public comments violated DOJ guidelines.”

Dannehy said Barr’s comments were “certainly taken in a political way by reports. Whether he intended that or not, I don’t know.”

She declined to detail what happened during her time with the investigation because it involved highly classified information.

While Durham’s report did identify significant problems with the FBI’s Trump-Russia probe, including major errors and omissions in wiretap applications targeting a former Trump campaign official, many of the findings had already been revealed by the Justice Department inspector general. And though Trump had looked to the report to malign the FBI as prejudiced against him, Durham concluded that the FBI’s mistakes were mostly a result of “confirmation bias” rather than partisanship or outright political bias.

Durham would not answer questions about Dannehy’s resignation during a June appearance before the House Judiciary Committee, saying the issue was not part of the report that he had been summoned to talk about.

Dannehy, a 62-year-old Connecticut native, served as U.S. Attorney for the District of Connecticut from 2008 to 2010. She later was appointed deputy attorney general for the state of Connecticut before taking a job with United Technologies Corporation as associate general counsel for global ethics and compliance.

Her nomination was cleared the General Assembly’s Judiciary Committee by a vote of 30-4 on Wednesday. The full General Assembly is scheduled to vote next week.

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Associated Press writer Eric Tucker reported from Washington, D.C.

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Former federal prosecutor who resigned from Trump-Russia probe says she left over concerns with Barr