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Barr at the White House Sept. 26. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Attorney General Bill Barr has begun telling top Republicans that the Justice Department’s sweeping review into the origins of the Russia investigation will not be released before the election, a senior White House official and a congressional aide briefed on the conversations tell Axios.

Why it matters: Republicans had long hoped the report, led by U.S. Attorney John Durham, would be a bombshell containing revelations about what they allege were serious abuses by the Obama administration and intelligence community probing for connections between President Trump and Russia.

  • “This is the nightmare scenario. Essentially, the year and a half of arguably the number one issue for the Republican base is virtually meaningless if this doesn't happen before the election," a GOP congressional aide told Axios.
  • Barr has made clear that they should not expect any further indictments or a comprehensive report before Nov. 3, our sources say.
  • Politico first reported that Durham is not expected to release information related to the probe before Election Day and Senate Republicans running similar investigations were made aware within the last week.
  • The Justice Department declined to comment. The White House did not respond to a request for comment.

What we're hearing: Barr is communicating that Durham is taking his investigation extremely seriously and is focused on winning prosecutions.

  • According to one of the sources briefed on the conversations Barr said Durham is working in a deliberate and calculated fashion, and they need to be patient.
  • The general sense of the talks, the source says, is that Durham is not preoccupied with completing his probe by a certain deadline for political purposes.

Behind the scenes: Trump has grown increasingly frustrated with Barr and the Justice Department for not moving more quickly on the investigation.

  • One administration official said Fox Business Network's Maria Bartiromo's recent interview with Rep. Devin Nunes on Sunday caught Trump's eye, further fueling his exasperation with the lack of indictments from Durham.
  • In recent days, Trump has publicly criticized Barr and FBI Director Christopher Wray for not moving fast enough.
  • "To be honest, Bill Barr is going to go down as either the greatest attorney general in the history of the country or he’s going to go down as, you know, a very sad situation," Trump said during a phone interview with Fox Business on Thursday.
  • "He’s got all the information he needs. They want to get more, more, more. They keep getting more. I said, 'you don’t need any more.'"
  • A Thursday report by the AP said Barr is also frustrated by Trump’s public pronouncements about the case.

The backstory: Trump's allies have long asserted that Durham's investigation will result in the arrests of top Obama administration officials. So far, Durham's probe has resulted in one criminal case: a former FBI lawyer who pleaded guilty to altering an email used to help obtain a surveillance warrant on former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page.

  • A former DOJ official told Axios that Durham "has a reputation for being thorough, but also somewhat slow, in part because of the big tasks he's undertaken."
  • The official pointed to Durham's Obama-era investigation into the CIA's use of torture, one that took years for him to complete.
  • "It comes with the territory of a sprawling investigation that every stone you turn over needs to be fully scrutinized," the former official said.

What's next: Top Republicans are planning to pressure Barr to get ahead of Durham and temper expectations for the timing of the report's release, as well declassify whatever remaining documents there are connected to the probe.

  • "Bill Barr should follow the instructions of the president to declassify and release all the documents the FBI are sitting on. There's no good reason for him to withhold this information," a senior White House official said.
  • Earlier this week, Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe approved the release of a large binder full of documents to the DOJ to assist their review of the Durham probe.

Editor's note: This story has been updated and the headline changed to reflect Politico's reporting on the status of the investigation.

Go deeper

Nov 25, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Trump pardons Michael Flynn

President Trump with Michael Flynn in 2016. Photo: David Hume Kennerly/Getty Images

President Trump on Wednesday pardoned his former national security adviser Michael Flynn, who pleaded guilty in the Mueller investigation to lying to FBI agents about his conversations with a former Russian ambassador.

Why it matters: It is the first of multiple pardons expected in the coming weeks, as Axios scooped Tuesday night.

6 hours ago - Health

Food banks feel the strain without holiday volunteers

People wait in line at Food Bank Community Kitchen on Nov. 25 in New York City. Photo: Michael Loccisano/Getty Images for Food Bank For New York City

America's food banks are sounding the alarm during this unprecedented holiday season.

The big picture: Soup kitchens and charities, usually brimming with holiday volunteers, are getting far less help.

8 hours ago - Health

AstraZeneca CEO: "We need to do an additional study" on COVID vaccine

Photo: Pavlo Gonchar/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

AstraZeneca CEO Pascal Soriot said on Thursday the company is likely to start a new global trial to measure how effective its coronavirus vaccine is, Bloomberg reports.

Why it matters: Following Phase 3 trials, Oxford and AstraZeneca said their vaccine was 90% effective in people who got a half dose followed by a full dose, and 62% effective in people who got two full doses.