Former Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker believes findings from U.S. Attorney John Durham’s investigation into alleged Obama administration wrongdoing during the 2016 election would not fall under the Justice Department’s so-called “60-day rule” with regard to this fall’s election.
The Justice Department has an unwritten policy of seeking not to release information or take actions within 60 days of an election that could have a direct impact on the contest.
That deadline would be in early September, if it applied to the Durham probe.
On Wednesday, former FBI lawyer Kevin Clinesmith pleaded guilty to doctoring an email that the bureau used in an application to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act Court to spy on former Trump campaign aide Carter Page in 2017.
Whitaker told The Western Journal he expects this is just the first shoe to drop and that more cases could be pursued going into the fall without running afoul of the DOJ’s 60-day policy.
The Iowa native served as attorney general following Jeff Sessions’ resignation in November 2018 until William Barr was confirmed to the post in February 2019. Part of Whitaker’s responsibilities included overseeing then-special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation.
“I think Bill Barr and John Durham are going to be bringing anyone that can be brought to justice,” Whitaker said.
“I think that’s what we saw with Mr. Clinesmith,” he added.
“And I think that’s a very important step in really revealing sort of how insidious, ultimately, this Russian collusion fable ended up being, what turned into the Mueller investigation, what would ultimately [be] the basic premise that there was allegedly some criminal conspiracy or relationship between the Trump campaign and the Russian government.
“There was never any evidence of that,” Whitaker said. “And in fact, it appears that there were a lot of things that were changed or manufactured in order to keep that investigation going.”
The former top DOJ official said he is pleased that the people who falsely promulgated the Trump-Russia collusion conspiracy will now “pay a price.”
Whitaker authored the recently released book “Above The Law: The Inside Story of How the Justice Department Tried to Subvert President Trump,” in which he details how the agency was steered off course by actors within the “Deep State.”
Whitaker told The Western Journal he does not believe the 60-day policy applies to Durham’s probe.
“If a prosecution is going to impact an election — usually it’s involving the candidates in an election — then nothing proactively is going to be done in that 60-day window before Nov. 3,” he said, explaining the policy.
“In this case, we’re not talking about any candidates for public office. This is something that’s looking retrospectively into what happened in 2016 in the investigation,” Whitaker added.
“And so I don’t see where that kind of rule at the Department Justice would impact anything that they’re going to do in that investigation.”
Last month, Fox News reported, based on unnamed sources, that Durham planned to either release his findings by the end of the summer, or if he couldn’t meet that deadline, wait until after the election.
However, Barr has not ruled out releasing Durham’s report in the fall, according to Politico.
“I will be very careful. I know what Justice Department policy is,” Barr said while testifying before the House Judiciary Committee in late July.
“Any report will be, in my judgment, not one that is covered by the policy and would disrupt the election.”
Asked directly by Democratic Rep. Debbie Murcasel-Powell of Florida if he would commit to not releasing the report within 60 days of the election, Barr replied flatly, “No.”
Former federal prosecutor Andrew McCarthy argued in an Op-Ed for The Hill earlier this month that “the elusive 60-day rule has always been trained on candidates involved in imminent elections.
“Now, however, the rule is being massaged into a purported prohibition on any Justice Department actions that could ‘influence the outcome’ of the election,” he continued.
McCarthy highlighted that Barr has made it clear Durham is not investigating any candidate on the ballot in November.
“That should be the end of any ’60-day rule’ gibberish,” McCarthy wrote. “But it’s not, of course, because Democrats are determined to avoid a Russiagate reckoning of any kind. Consequently, no more focus on candidates. Now, the ’60-day rule’ is translated: ‘Don’t dare bring any cases or make any disclosures that could cast the Obama administration in a bad light.'”
Whitaker participated in a two-day bus tour through the heart of battleground Arizona on Thursday and Friday with other Trump re-election backers, including Arizona Rep. Andy Biggs and former state Treasurer Jeff DeWit, who now serves as the Trump campaign’s chief operating officer.
The former acting AG said Trump is a “true American patriot.”
“I think another four years of Donald Trump is really going to be necessary in order to implement … his priorities,” Whitaker added, “and make sure … ‘Make America Great’ is locked in for … the future.”
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