An ethics watchdog group on Wednesday filed a federal lawsuit accusing the Department of Justice (DOJ) of stonewalling their public record requests for documents relating to the department’s investigation into the origins of the Mueller probe.
The Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) asked the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to order the DOJ to comply with a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to reveal Attorney General William Barr’s directive to U.S. Attorney for the District of Connecticut John Durham, and any calendar entries reflecting appointments between the two attorneys.
Barr appointed Durham in May to examine the origins of the former special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election.
According to the lawsuit, Barr tasked Durham with the probe “while the DOJ’s Inspector General was investigating this same issue, and seemingly in response to public calls from President Donald Trump for an investigation into the origins of Mr. Mueller’s investigation.”
The complaint claimed that although Durham’s investigation has been publicly acknowledged by several members of Congress — such as Reps. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) and Mark Meadows (R-Texas), and Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) — the DOJ has refused to disclose information despite a legal obligation to do so.
“Notwithstanding this public record, efforts through the FOIA to obtain a copy of the Attorney General’s order directing Mr. Durham to conduct an investigation have been unsuccessful,” the lawsuit said. “CREW explained that the requested records may shed light on the nature of the relationship between the Attorney General and Mr. Durham and the circumstances surrounding the Attorney General’s insinuation that the Trump campaign was the subject of illegal surveillance.”
The lawsuit asked the Court for declaratory relief ordering the DOJ to immediately and fully process the information requests.
Barr and Durham met with Italian political and intelligence officials in Rome last month where they were reportedly seeking evidence to vindicate Trump’s theory that Mueller’s investigation was the result of a “deep state” conspiratorial plot to keep him from winning the 2016 presidential election.
[image via Win McNamee_Getty Images]