In what has to be one of the oddest if not most mysterious recent tenures under the Department of Justice, U.S. Attorney John Durham has announced he's leaving his U.S. Attorney post, effective midnight Sunday.
Update: Some news reports say he will stay on in his special counsel role investigating FBI misconduct.
After serving as the United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut for more than three years, and as a federal prosecutor in Connecticut for more than 38 years, John H. Durham today announced his resignation from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, effective at midnight on February 28.Department of Justice announcement, February 26
Durham's resignation notice didn't devote even a single sentence to explaining what happened to the investigation he was tasked to lead, examining FBI misconduct in the 2016 election and beyond.
Then-Attorney General William Barr assigned Durham to spearhead the probe after an Obama-appointed Inspector General found widespread misconduct within the ranks of the Justice Department in the government spying on the Trump campaign, and improper wiretapping a former Trump campaign associate, Carter Page.
Before the investigation somehow got sidelines, Barr had said it was clear from the evidence that the FBI had, indeed, improperly spied on a political campaign and committed egregious offenses.
At one point, Barr promised a report of some kind would be issued a year ago, last Spring. Then, as the election drew closer, the timeline was extended into Summer. Finally, as if it never existed in the first place, all discussion of the investigation simply disappeared.
Barr, too, resigned without explaining what happened to one of the most important investigations in recent times. He originally said that no matter what the investigation found, there would be a public report because the subject matter was of such great public interest. And he promised the report would be out by Spring of 2020 or Summer at the latest.
The only known action to date to come from the probe is the charging of former FBI attorney Kevin Clinesmith for doctoring a court document to obtain an improper wiretap on Carter Page.
Clinesmith was ultimately charged with what many analysts said amounted to less than a slap on the wrist considering the magnitude of the crime committed. Then, he avoided prison, getting sentenced to probation.
Many Republicans pinned hopes on both Barr and Durham, insisting they would expose and punish corruption within the Department of Justice and FBI before misconduct could occur again in the 2020 election.
The full Department of Justice announcement about Durham's resignation is below.
“My career has been as fulfilling as I could ever have imagined when I graduated from law school way back in 1975,” said U.S. Attorney Durham. “Much of that fulfillment has come from all the people with whom I’ve been blessed to share this workplace, and in our partner law enforcement agencies. My love and respect for this Office and the vitally important work done here have never diminished. It has been a tremendous honor to serve as U.S. Attorney, and as a career prosecutor before that, and I will sorely miss it.”
Prior to his appointment as an interim U.S. Attorney in November 2017 and subsequently as the presidentially appointed U.S. Attorney in February 2018, Mr. Durham served as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in various positions in the District of Connecticut for 35 years, prosecuting complex organized crime, violent crime, public corruption and financial fraud matters. From 1978 to 1982, he served as an Assistant State’s Attorney in the New Haven State’s Attorney’s Office, and from 1977 to 1978, he served as a Deputy Assistant State’s Attorney in the Office of the Chief State’s Attorney.
First Assistant U.S. Attorney Leonard C Boyle will serve as Acting U.S. Attorney upon Mr. Durham’s departure.
“The Office will be in the extraordinarily capable hands of Len and our superb supervisory team who, together, guarantee that the proper administration of justice will continue uninterrupted in our District.”
Mr. Boyle has served as First Assistant U.S. Attorney since June 2018, when he returned to the U.S. Attorney’s Office after serving as Deputy Chief State’s Attorney in Connecticut for approximately nine years. He previously served in the U.S. Attorney’s Office from 1986 to 1998, and from 1999 to 2004.
Mr. Boyle is the 53rd U.S. Attorney for the District of Connecticut, an office that was established in 1789.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office is charged with enforcing federal criminal laws in Connecticut and representing the federal government in civil litigation. The Office is composed of approximately 68 Assistant U.S. Attorneys and approximately 54 staff members at offices in New Haven, Hartford and Bridgeport.