Sep 11, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Top aide to John Durham’s Trump-Russia investigation resigns

Connecticut prosecutor Nora Dannehy entering a taxi in 2009.

Connecticut prosecutor Nora Dannehy entering a taxi in Washington, D.C., in 2009. Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Nora Dannehy, a senior prosecutor who worked with Connecticut U.S. Attorney John Durham on his investigation into U.S. intelligence agencies that examined allegations of Russian interference in the 2016 election, abruptly resigned from the Justice Department on Friday, the Hartford Courant first reported, citing unidentified colleagues.

Why it matters: Dannehy's departure may complicate the final stretch of the investigation amid mounting pressure from President Trump and his allies for published results before the November elections.

  • It will also likely raise concern among Democrats, who have sought interviews with Durham over allegations that Attorney General Bill Barr has intervened with DOJ cases that concern the president.
  • "Whether Mr. Barr and Mr. Durham plan to take public investigative steps close to the election, flouting a longstanding Justice Department practice of avoiding overt activity within 60 days of an election if it could have a political impact on the vote, has been the subject of growing scrutiny," the New York Times writes.

Context: In 2019, Barr chose Durham to conduct the sweeping investigation into the origins of the FBI's 2016 Russia probe .

  • Trump and his allies have long claimed the probe was a political hit job engineered by former FBI director James Comey and other Obama-era officials.

The big picture: Dannehy told her colleagues in the U.S. Attorney’s office in New Haven of her resignation from the DOJ in an email Thursday evening, though she did not give a reason, according to the Courant.

  • Trump has expressed impatience with Durham's investigation in recent interviews and has suggested that it should be prosecuting more people and disclosing more developments, according to Politico.
  • Durham's inquiry produced its first charge in August of Kevin Clinesmith, a former FBI lawyer who pleaded guilty to altering an email used to obtain a surveillance warrant for former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page.
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