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John Durham’s probe appears to be ending with a whimper

For years, Trump World insisted that the Russia scandal was pointless but John Durham's investigation was real. We now know this was entirely backward.


Every once in a while, Donald Trump still blurts out John Durham’s name, hoping the prosecutor might yet bolster some of the former president’s conspiracy theories. As regular readers may recall, the Republican has even suggested at times that Durham’s probe could serve as a possible vehicle for retaliating against his perceived enemies.

By way of his social media platform, Trump wrote last month, “The public is waiting ‘with bated breath’ for the Durham Report, which should reveal corruption at a level never seen before in our country.”

The word “should” did a lot of work in that sentence.

In reality, the longer the political world has waited for the investigation to produce something notable, the more the former president has grown impatient, asking: “Where’s John Durham?” It’s a line Trump repeated in 2020, 2021 and 2022.

As it turns out, there’s an answer to the question, though the Republican probably won’t like it. The New York Times reported:

Now Mr. Durham appears to be winding down his three-year inquiry without anything close to the results Mr. Trump was seeking. The grand jury that Mr. Durham has recently used to hear evidence has expired, and while he could convene another, there are currently no plans to do so, three people familiar with the matter said. Mr. Durham and his team are working to complete a final report by the end of the year, they said, and one of the lead prosecutors on his team is leaving for a job with a prominent law firm.

For those who might benefit from a refresher — you’d be forgiven for thinking, “John Durham’s name sounds familiar, but I can’t remember why I’m supposed to care about him” — let’s revisit our earlier coverage and explain how we arrived at this point.

The original investigation into Trump’s Russia scandal, led by then-Special Counsel Robert Mueller, led to a series of striking findings: The former president’s political operation in 2016 sought, embraced, capitalized on, and lied about Russian assistance — and then took steps to obstruct the investigation into the foreign interference.

The Trump White House wasn’t pleased, and the Justice Department’s inspector general conducted a lengthy probe of the Mueller investigation. Not surprisingly, the IG’s office found nothing improper.

This, of course, fueled even more outrage from Trump, so then-Attorney General Bill Barr tapped a federal prosecutor — U.S. Attorney John Durham — to conduct his own investigation into the investigation. That was over three years ago.

At this point, Durham’s investigation into the Russia scandal investigation has lasted longer than Mueller’s original probe of the Russia scandal.

After an extended period of apparent inactivity, the prosecutor last year indicted cybersecurity attorney Michael Sussmann for allegedly having lied to the FBI. The case proved to be baseless, Sussmann was acquitted, and one of the jurors publicly mocked Durham’s team for having taken the case to trial.

Soon after, the Times’ Charlie Savage wrote a report questioning why the Durham investigation existed. He added, “Mr. Barr’s mandate to Mr. Durham appears to have been to investigate a series of conspiracy theories.”

Those theories, however, lacked merit, which is why the Durham probe appears to be ending with a whimper.

There is a degree of irony to the circumstances: For years, Trump World insisted that the Russia scandal was pointless but the Durham investigation was real. It now appears these Republicans had it exactly backward: The Russia scandal was real, and the Durham investigation was pointless.