Shane Harris, Washington Post - Trump's October surprise fizzles

Shane Harris, Washington Post
Trump's October surprise fizzles


It’s not that John Huber doesn’t do bullspit. He did that for a couple of years on assignment from the Attorney General and the President. But he balked at calling his bullspit gold, even when he was offered the chance to gold-plate dozens of bullspit jobs for fellow prosecutors, investigators and legal assistants. That, he just wouldn’t do.


But let me back up. John Huber was a U.S. Attorney in Utah when he was asked by Attorney General Jeff Sessions to investigate possible corruption at the Clinton Foundation and at Hillary Clinton’s State Department connected to a decision not to block the sale of a company called Uranium One. All this had been investigated already, but President Trump wasn’t satisfied, and so Huber was called in to re-investigate.


He read the files on the Uranium One deal and found it had passed through all the regulatory channels and that State and Secretary Clinton had little to do with it, and he checked in with an ongoing investigation into the Clinton Foundation and reported back – nothing criminal, nothing noteworthy, going on.  


His report disappeared. 


Weeks later, AG Sessions got back to him. Don’t stop. Stick with this. Re-re-review the Clinton Foundation and Uranium One, and while you’re at it look at the FBI’s handling of the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s email server and alleged leaks by former FBI director James B. Comey. And looking at this load of already investigated-into-the-ground material wasn’t all Huber was commissioned to do. He could create dozens of jobs.  


“Your recommendations,” Sessions wrote to Huber, “should include whether any matters not currently under investigation warrants the opening of an investigation, whether any matters currently under investigation require further resources or further investigation, and whether any matters would merit the appointment of a Special Counsel,” 


“Sorry, Boss,” the U.S. Attorney said to the AG, “there’s nothing here, no crimes, no violations, no need for more investigators or new investigations, no need for a Special Counsel.” And a great silence settled over the land.


William Barr is the third Trump Attorney General to ignore the Huber report, and to keep it secret.


As well he might, since the Huber case illustrates the lengths Trump will go, the public money he will waste, just to harass his enemies.  

What made it easier for Barr, and Matthew Whitaker and Jeff Sessions to keep this fool’s errand hidden is that everything John Huber was assigned was truly old news, known and already pre-judged by Trump’s base. Everything about his mission was beneath notice. Until the Washington Post noticed and added another footnote to the story of the degradation of the Trump Justice Department.


But there was nothing secret about the investigation handed to another U.S. Attorney, John Bash of San Antonio, Texas… until it, too, failed to produce the Trump-desired conclusions. Then, it too, entered the metaphoric Presidential Witness Protection Program and disappeared from public view.  




Shane Harris is a senior national security writer at the Washington Post. He specializes in coverage of America’s intelligence agencies. He is author of the books The Watchers: The Rise of America’s Surveillance State and @War: The Rise of the Military-Internet Complex, about the impact of cyberspace as the American military’s “fifth-domain” of war.



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