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investigating the investigation

Surprise resignation of federal prosecutor ups concerns Barr is leaning on Durham investigation

The Justice Department confirmed the Friday departure of Nora Dannehy, a top prosecutor working on U.S. Attorney John Durham's investigation into the origins of the FBI's Trump campaign–Russia investigation. Attorney General William Barr assigned Durham to lead his investigation of the investigation in 2019, and Durham persuaded Dannehy, a well-regarded career prosecutor who had worked with him for decades, to return to the Justice Department to act as his lead investigator.

Dannehy has not given any public reason for her early, unexpected departure from the ongoing investigation, but the Hartford Courant, which broke the news, reported that colleagues said she "has been concerned in recent weeks by what she believed was pressure from Barr ... to produce results before the election." President Trump and his allies have been raising expectations that Durham's investigations would lead to arrests of high-level FBI or DOJ officials, vindicating his "deep state" allegations before voters cast their ballots.

Barr "and some of those around him have pressed for at least partial results, while Durham's pending workload seemed to stretch for months more," The Washington Post reports, citing a person familiar with the case. "Several officials said expectations had been growing in the White House and Congress that Mr. Barr would make public, ahead of the election, some kind of interim report or list of findings from Mr. Durham before he completed the investigation," The New York Times adds, noting that Barr's "early public description of the then-still-secret Mueller report" was slammed by a federal judge as so "misleading" and "distorted" in Trump's favor that it rendered the DOJ untrustworthy on the topic.

Barr has said he's open to releasing any findings from the Durham investigation before the election, arguing that the Justice Department's 60-day ban on taking actions that might affect an election doesn't count here since Democratic nominee Joe Biden is not a target of the investigation.