Former President Donald Trump did not direct his attorney general, William Barr, to indict anybody specifically during discussions about special counsel John Durham’s criminal inquiry into the Russia investigation, according to a new book.
Washington Post reporters Carol Leonnig and Philip Rucker wrote in I Alone Can Fix It, which hit bookshelves on Tuesday, that Trump “frequently” brought up Durham’s review of the origins and conduct of the FBI investigation into ties between Trump’s 2016 campaign and Russia during meetings with Barr in the spring of 2020.
The work by Durham, the U.S. attorney in Connecticut whose Russia inquiry continues into the Biden administration as special counsel, was heralded by Trump as an inspection that would root out officials he suspected were plotting against him. Meanwhile, Democrats and other critics panned it as tainted by politics.
Barr did gin up excitement among Trump and his allies with some of his public statements, including in a Fox News interview with Laura Ingraham when he said there was “something far more troubling” than simply “mistakes or sloppiness.”
But when it came to their Oval Office conversations, excerpts from the book suggest Trump’s enthusiasm for the investigation did not cross into the commander in chief demanding his attorney general prosecute his perceived enemies under scrutiny by Durham.
“Though he did not direct Barr to indict anyone specifically, the president frequently brought up the probe during their Oval Office meetings that spring,” the book said.
“His questions were frequently some version of, ‘When do you think something might come out of that?’ Barr didn’t feel comfortable responding with details and tried to manage the president’s expectations,” the authors added.
Durham has run the politically charged investigation since the spring of 2019, which means it has lasted longer than special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia inquiry. The long duration of the special counsel investigation frustrated Trump, who often asks about Durham’s progress, even since he left the White House. However, it reached a fever pitch just before the 2020 election.
Durham called Barr to tell him “there would be no report he would feel comfortable releasing before the election,” the authors wrote. This aligns with reporting by Axios in October that Barr was telling Republicans not to expect more indictments or a report from Durham before the 2020 election.
“If that’s the case, I’m very disappointed. I think it’s a terrible thing, and I’ll say it to his face,” Trump said during an event in response to that news less than a month before the November election.
“That’s a disgrace. I think it’s a disgrace. It’s an embarrassment,” he added. “I had to beat off the phony Mueller report. I had to beat off all this stuff. I had to beat off impeachment. I had to beat off Congress.”
Barr left the Justice Department just before Christmas.
Durham has so far secured only one guilty plea. However, Rep. Devin Nunes, the ranking member on the House Intelligence Committee, recently predicted there are still people who are “going to go to jail, and they are going to be prosecuted for the Russia grand fiasco and the Russia hoax.”