GOP Senators warn of DOJ official having conflict of interest in Trump case

Two Republican Senators wrote a letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland questioning a possible conflict of interest regarding a Department of Justice official taking part in the investigation into alleged surveillance by the Obama administration into Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign.

“We have concerns about her role and potential impact on ongoing matters, including Special Counsel John Durham’s inquiry,” Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) and Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) wrote to Garland in regards to Susan Hennessey’s role in the Justice Department’s National Security Division.

The letter calls into question a statement Hennessey made regarding Durham’s investigation into alleged surveillance activity by the Obama administration on the Trump campaign. “Durham has made abundantly clear that in a year and a half, he hasn’t come up with anything. I guess this kind of partisan silliness has become characteristic of Barr’s legacy, but unclear to me why Durham would want to go along with it,” the letter quotes Hennessey as saying on December 1, 2020.

“Ms. Hennessey presumably made this statement without any first-hand knowledge of Durham’s ongoing work, including its true scope and the extent of the evidence acquired at that time,” the letter adds. “Ms. Hennessey’s apparent bias against Durham’s inquiry presents a clear conflict that makes it impossible for her to be objective and credible with respect to any elements relating to the Durham inquiry, should she have access to any of it.”

Hennessey has previously held posts at the Brookings Institution and CNN. She’s been vocal in her support for the debunked theory that Donald Trump colluded with Russia to influence the 2016 presidential election.

“Ms. Hennessey also expressed copious public views in support of the fundamentally flawed Crossfire Hurricane investigation and vouched for the Steele Dossier, which, as our joint investigation unveiled, was infected with Russian government disinformation and demonstrably false information,” the Senator’s add.

Johnson and Grassley also asked Garland various questions in their letter, including whether or not he believes, as former Attorney General William Barr did, that a report of the investigation should be released to the public when completed.

Barr appointed Durham to serve as special counsel on Oct. 19, 2020. Since taking office in January, President Joe Biden has allowed Durham’s investigation to continue unimpeded. So far, Durham’s investigation has led to one conviction after former FBI attorney Kevin Clinesmith pleaded guilty in August 2020 to altering emails from the CIA regarding its connections to Carter Page, a former Trump campaign aid at the center of the FBI’s surveillance.