Nora Dannehy Confirms that Bill Barr Attempted to Sway 2020 Election with Dubious Interim Report

As AP first reported, in response to several questions in a hearing on her nomination to the Connecticut Supreme Court, Nora Dannehy provided details about why she resigned from the Durham investigation. In response to the first, she described that Bill Barr seemed intent on issuing an interim report before the 2020 election, the conclusion with which she “strongly” disagreed.

In the spring and summer of 2020, I had growing concerns that this Russia investigation was not being conducted in that way [independent of political influence]. Attorney General Barr began to speak more publicly, and specifically, about the ongoing criminal investigation. I thought these public comments violated DOJ guidelines. In late summer 2020, just months before the 2020 Presidential election, he wanted a report written about our ongoing investigation. Publicly, he would not rule out releasing that report before the Presidential election. I had never been asked to write a report about an investigation that was not yet complete. I then saw a version of a draft report, the conclusions of which I strongly disagreed with. Writing a report — and particularly the draft I saw — violated long-standing principles of the Department of Justice. Furthermore, the Department of Justice has a long-standing policy of not taking any public actions in the time leading up to an election that might influence that election. I simply couldn’t be part of it, so I resigned.

It was the most difficult personal and professional decision I’ve had to make.

This tracks reporting from the NYT that describes Dannehy erupting on September 10, the day before she resigned, when she read the draft report that had been written (Charlie Savage linked this video testimony).

So does something Dannehy said later in the hearing.

What I was involved in involved classified — highly classified — information and I really can’t get into what happened when I was there because I likely would, or potentially could, get into an area that I can’t speak about.

NYT reported that the report came after Durham bypassed Beryl Howell to obtained records he used to attempt to corroborate potential disinformation associated with Guccifer 2.0.

By summer 2020, with Election Day approaching, Mr. Barr pressed Mr. Durham to draft a potential interim report centered on the Clinton campaign and F.B.I. gullibility or willful blindness.

On Sept. 10, 2020, Ms. Dannehy discovered that other members of the team had written a draft report that Mr. Durham had not told her about, according to people briefed on their ensuing argument.

The reference to the Clinton campaign appears to reference Durham’s conspiracy theories about a plan that Clinton planned to frame Donald Trump. But that Durham theory was based on his own fabrication about what the intelligence said, even assuming the intelligence was true and not itself disinformation.

This confirms that Durham twice doubled down on this conspiracy theory about Hillary Clinton, first when he contested Michael Horowitz’s conclusion on the Carter Page investigation, and then when he endorsed this draft report. In the end, his report never substantiated his own conspiracy theory.

Dannehy assiduously avoids blaming her old friend John Durham for this corruption. But long after Barr left office, Durham pursued this conspiracy theory relentlessly, going so far as misrepresenting his own investigation to avoid admitting he proved himself wrong.

60 replies
  1. RMD de Plume says:

    It is incisive, factual, background investigational reporting like this that sets Dr. Wheeler’s work apart from the numbing hum of much that calls itself journalism.

    Thank you

    • Purple Martin says:


      Would that make Durham the Sheriff of Numbinghum? Or should that title be reserved for those who transcribe it for publication?

  2. P’villain says:

    “We have lots of theories, we just don’t have the evidence.”
    – Rudolph Giuliani

    “Reality has a well-known left-wing bias.”
    – Stephen Colbert

  3. CPtight617 says:

    Not saying they will, but does DOJ IG have any power to take action (punish or recommend punishment) against Durham for his conduct as SC?

    • Rugger_9 says:

      Not unless Durham did something illegal outside of the scope of his ambit. Something like if Defendant-1 bribed Durham with the receipts already seized.

      Mere incompetence or poor judgement is not sufficient for IG action. Realize that given how the GOP Congresscritters have tipped their hand about Weiss and how Defendant-1 was trying to implement Schedule F it’s not a good idea to give the crazies options for payback that Ds have used.

      • bmaz says:

        IG can’t do much, if anything, as Durham was a government attorney the entire time and IG does not have jurisdiction over those.

      • Bay State Librul says:

        Are you saying that the chance of prosecuting Durham means “we have to climb Mt Everest in a pair of sandals”?
        Hats off to the LA Dodgers radio broadcasting team of Rick Monday and Steiner for 20 years being “the soundtrack of summer for folks stuck in traffic.”

            • bmaz says:

              Yes, but it is extremely hard post McDonell. This complaint seems to be crafted to get around McDonell, but we shall see. I hope nobody thinks it is a “slam dunk”, because it is not in any regard.

              • Knowatall says:

                McDonell, the gift that keeps on giving. Ever more corrupt officials skating away on the thick ice of a new day.

  4. OldSchool_NewNameNeeded says:

    Why didn’t she take this to the IG? Or did she?

    [Welcome back to emptywheel. Please choose and use a UNIQUE username with a minimum of 8 letters. We are moving to a new minimum standard to support community security. “OldSchool” duplicates a name used by a commenter who has a different email address. Thanks. /~Rayne]

  5. Upisdown says:

    I know that John Durham left his job as US Attorney when he accepted Barr’s appointment of him as special counsel. And I assume that his report to Congress and the DOJ technically ended his tenure as Special Counsel. But this dude seriously needs to be officially fired for misconduct and have that go on his permanent record.

    • bmaz says:

      For the love of gawd, give it up as to Durham. And, if you just cannot, please bother to get your facts correct. Durham did NOT leave his US Atty position in Delaware upon initial appointment as SC. Further, he is no longer employed by DOJ, what exactly is it you think he can be “fired” from?? There is no process for an IG investigation, and OPR is not going to muck in this. Give it a rest.

      • Upisdown says:

        Under the heading of getting facts correct:

        I did not say that Durham was Delaware’s USA. He was from Connecticut, and he did resign from that post in Feb 2021, along with all the other Trump era USA’s except Weiss, at the request of the Biden administration.

        My question pertained to Durham’s current status with the department after he issued his report. My point was that if Durham was in any way still connected to DOJ – through the Special Counsel investigation, or any other capacity, he should be fired for his gross negligence.

        (For the record, I doubt I will ever give it a rest on Durham. His actions were deplorable, and I believe that his travels with Barr and this newly confirmed interference, should be looked into.)

        • bmaz says:

          Sorry meant CT not DE. Durham has no status with DOJ currently.

          Lol. “Looked into”. By who? For what? Do you understand prosecutorial immunity? Yes, give it a rest.

          • Upisdown says:

            There remains a mythology surrounding Durham’s investigation that persists. What I mean by “looked into” is like how Mueller was looked into by the IG, by Barr and Durham, by Congress and by the far-right media. But do it fairly – not like what they’ve done to Hunter Biden which has been despicable in its dishonesty.

            • bmaz says:

              I politely asked you to stop. You appear incapable. What about “there is no such mechanism” is it you cannot understand? Why is it you are so blithering obsessed about Durham intead of the huge fish left out there to deal with? You are nuts. Again, stop, else be gone.

            • bmaz says:

              Oh, I did not “censor” you. What a ludicrous statement. I did, however, bounce a couple of your posts because we have neither time nor energy to be constantly policing dopey thread killers like you. This is a free site, but that does not mean we have to slurp trolls like you have been today. Enough. Stop. If you can, if humanly possible, step back from just spewing garbage and attacking us, we shall see. For now though, no. Sorry!

              • Upisdown says:

                Gee, a third post censored. I would call it a bug but it’s more like a feature.

                You probably don’t recall, but you pulled the same censorship routine earlier this year when I posted comments to raise awareness of rightwing media’s propaganda campaign against Hunter and Joe Biden and how MSM was foolishly allowing it to spread unchallenged. You dismissed me as troll back then, too, and deleted my posts. Look at what’s happening now with Comer and the GOP’s smears against “the Biden Crime Family”. Check out the polling on Joe Biden’s involvement. Complacency is deadly. We need more pushback, not more censorship.

                [Moderator’s note: You’re going to have to deal with me and I am telling you to slow your roll. As Democrats we’re supposed to support democracy and the rule of law, which includes the precept that one is innocent until proven guilty. Your trash talk does not reflect well on Democrats, on democracy, and on this blog. Find a way to discuss this issue rationally and objectively without immediately demanding extrajudicial labels and punishment. Until then you can expect throttling. /~Rayne]

                • Rayne says:

                  Repeating right-wing propaganda is a form of amplification. Knock it the fuck off.

                  Trashing moderators here is also not permitted.

                  ADDER 7:35 PM ET: Filibustering me will not solve your problem. We expect better from commenters.

    • taluslope says:

      Durham has been essentially “fired” by the MAGA crowd who seem to have no qualms about eating their own. I can’t believe I’m saying this but the poor guy gave it his best.

  6. The Old Redneck says:

    So here we have evidence from a credible source of actual political interference and tampering with a criminal investigation. But this will likely get no attention, while the braying about Biden’s nonexistent sweetheart deal will continue to generate headlines.
    I appreciate everything EW does, just like everyone else here. But it is depressing sometimes to see how this stuff gets covered.

    • AirportCat says:

      Yes. Regrettably, new revelations of Bill Barr’s corruption just seem to sound like that old SNL joke: “News flash! Generalissimo Francisco Franco is still dead!” And Bill Barr is still a corrupt schlub.

      • Ginevra diBenci says:

        My sister just returned to Michigan from Spain, where she spent two weeks covering a vast amount of territory. When I asked her about remaining traces of Franco’s rule, she told me “We didn’t see them. They just don’t talk about him.” (She said the exception was a park in Madrid where bullets had defaced a statue; this vestige of Franco’s battle for power has no plaque or identifying marker.)

        The fact that Dannehy was shut out of the process of writing that insidious draft tells me everything. Barr and Durham knew she would object for solid, institutional reasons, so they kept it from her. One more example of the coverup telling the story of a crime.

        Or not telling it. In Spain, they don’t teach Franco’s rule to children, my sister was told by a British tour guide in Madrid. He was the one who pointed out the bullet damage. Someone has to.

        • Just Some Guy says:

          Been to Spain twice and the first time was in November during the anniversary of Franco’s death, which I assure you is still very much a big deal there — on this occasion, there was a pitched battle in the streets of Madrid between leftists and fascist skinheads, complete with riot police, helicopters, the whole enchilada as it were — and it was a Sunday! Thankfully earlier in the day it was a pleasant morning at el rastro, but otherwise that was a day I’ll never forget. I assure you that the falangists are still active, and falangism is still (unfortunately) alive and well many decades after Franco’s death, though it’s more out in the open in areas that where it is more dominant. In Catalonia and the Basque Country I’ve never seen open demonstrations or even pro-falangist graffiti, and though I’ve never been to Asturias I doubt it would be much in evidence there. I’m sure it’s still a potent force in Galicia, where Franco was from, and I’ve seen falangist slogans etc. on the streets in Andalusia, unfortunately — ironically in Grenada, where Lorca was assassinated by the falangists at the beginning of the Civil War.

          • Ginevra diBenci says:

            My sister was only in Grenada for a few days. She described it as beautiful and full of history, but all pre-Franco. No trace of his rule there. I’m sure it depends on when you go and where you’re looking, but she also said that Lorca seemed erased too, to her shock.

            I’ve never visited Europe, except in post-WWII cinema, which made many indelible impressions on my teenage mind. Spain was missing from that world so rich with images from France, Italy, UK, and later Germany. Spain remains a black box in so many ways; I asked my sister if it seemed that way to her, and she said yes, regarding Franco, it did.

  7. ifthethunder says:

    A lie can travel halfway around the world and back, several times.
    Years later the truth has put its shoes on.

  8. Vthestate says:

    I read about Nora Dannehy’s revelation during the hearing on her nomination to the Connecticut Supreme Court, in the CT Mirror….my home town News on line. The coverage had her being closely connected to Durham. I look forward to a interview of her…(not holding my breath) It must be kinda sticky talking about powerful media figures and remain professionally viable. We all know Payback is a mother…. slight aside …Our Governor is shockingly popular…even after his troubling false start.

  9. wa_rickf says:

    This action by Bill Barr is reminiscent of James Comey reopening an investigation into Hillary Clinton during early voting for one week, then closing the investigation essentially saying, “Never mind.”

    The damage was inflicted just as Rwingers wanted.

  10. Savage Librarian says:

    I’m reminded of that trip Barr and Durham took to Italy and the hush-hush criminal investigation pertaining to Trump’s finances that we never heard more about. And that brought to mind something Glenn Simpson said in response to a question Adam Schiff asked him during the House Intelligence Committee Interview on November 14, 2017.

    Basically, Simpson told Schiff to follow the money through the real estate brokers, licensing companies, and title companies, as well as the banks.

    “MR. SIMPSON: And in general, I would look at Elena Baronoff’s operation. She also had a lot of curious involvement with a businessman in Sicily named Dino Papale, who we think has organized crime ties as well, and has a lot of interesting relationships with the Russians as well, and has hinted strongly that he organized secret meetings between Donald Trump and the Russians in Sicily.”

    “We spent a lot of time looking at that particular network. And I think you would ultimately get to the financial institutions by looking at the actual real estate transactions.”
    “And so, you know, all dollar transactions are generally cleared through New York. So, you know, the main thing you have to do is identify the banks that were used. So I don’t know if the money was moved via Deutsche Bank or what the other banks were. In fact, I’ve never gotten around to trying to figure that out.”

  11. wa_rickf says:

    It wouldn’t be the first Bill Barr report that was a lie. Barr’s “summary” of the Mueller Report was a complete and utter lie.

    There are some sheeple who believe there was no 2016 Russian interference involved, even to this day – all thanks to Bar’s lying “summary.”

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