Watchdog group requests AG Garland say if he'll extend Durham probe, with funding to end next month

Funding for the probe expires Sept. 30, the end of fiscal 2021.

Updated: August 20, 2021 - 1:34pm

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The government watchdog group Empower Oversight is asking the Justice Department whether Attorney General Merrick Garland will allow Special Counsel John Druham’s Russia collusion probe to continue and provide funding for it in the fast-approaching, new fiscal year.

"Under the regulations governing the special counsel, it is up to the attorney general to decide whether to allow the investigation to continue into a new fiscal year and whether to approve the budget necessary for it to do so,” the group wrote in its Freedom of Information Act request

The group suggested its concern about the roughly 10-month-long probe by Durham, a former U.S. attorney, into the handling of the 2016 Russia investigation by law enforcement and intelligence agencies are based on previous statements by Garland and the department. 

"At his confirmation hearing, when asked whether he would commit to providing Special Counsel Durham with the time and budget needed to complete the investigation, Attorney General Garland failed to do so," the group also wrote. 

"Similarly, the Justice Department has failed to respond to recent requests by Congress and the media to clarify whether the Attorney General has decided to allow the Special Counsel’s investigation to continue beyond the end of this fiscal year or approved a budget for the next fiscal year. As the end of this fiscal year, September 30, gets closer and closer, these issues become more pressing."  

The probe has reportedly so far cost at least $1.5 million.

The Russia collusion probe has raised numerous concerns including the FBI’s handling of an interview with then-National Security Advisor Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, the U.S. Intelligence community surveillance efforts and a dossier on President Trump 2016 presidential campaign, of which Flynn was a member. 

The group argues the Durham probe is "of vital importance to the American people, and the people deserve answers from the Justice Department to determine if any actions have been taken to undermine the investigation’s integrity."

The group also vowed to take the matter to court  if the department fails to promptly respond to the FOIA request.

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