Judge Merrick Garland, President Joe Biden’s nominee for attorney general, said on Feb. 22 he sees “no reason” why special counsel John Durham shouldn’t be left in place in order to continue his investigation into the origins of the Trump-Russia probe.
Garland also declined to make any firm commitments during his confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee.
At one point, ranking member Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) questioned him about what he would do with Durham’s investigation.
“I understand that he has been permitted to remain in this position, and sitting here today, I have no reason to think that was not the correct decision,” Garland responded. The nominee also told the committee that he hasn’t yet had a chance to speak with Durham.
“I don’t have any reason, from what I know now, which is really very little, to make any determination on that ground,” he added. “But I have no reason to think he should not remain in place.”
While Trump-appointed U.S. attorneys have been asked to resign in recent weeks, U.S. Attorney David Weiss in Delaware, who is overseeing the tax probe of Hunter Biden, and Durham are expected to remain in office.
Garland also was pressed by Grassley on whether he would make Durham’s report public. He ultimately declined to commit as to whether or not he would make the findings publicly available.
“I am a great believer in transparency. I would, though, have to talk with Durham and understand the nature of what he’s been doing and the nature of his report,” he said.
Then-Attorney General William Barr said in December 2020 that Durham was “making good progress” with his investigation.
Durham, the U.S. attorney for Connecticut, is working in Washington on a regular basis, Barr said at the time. Durham was appointed by Barr as special counsel in October 2020; he was appointed last year to investigate the origin of the FBI and Department of Justice (DOJ) probe into Trump’s 2016 campaign.
At one point during the hearing, Garland said he had agreed to the nomination as attorney general because Biden had said that “decisions about investigations and prosecutions will be left to the Justice Department.”
During the first day of a two-day hearing, Garland vowed to prioritize civil rights, combat extremist attacks, and ensure that the DOJ remains politically independent.
“The attorney general represents the public interest, particularly and specifically as defined by the Constitution and the statutes of the United States,” Garland said. “I do not plan to be interfered with by anyone.”
To date, Durham has interviewed officials from the FBI, DOJ, and the CIA regarding the early days of the Russia investigation, and has produced criminal charges against one person—a former FBI lawyer who pleaded guilty to altering an email.