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Top Durham aide quits from Trump-Russia probe; AG William Barr accused of putting team under pressure for results

Nora Dannehy's resignation was partly influenced by concern that the probe team was under pressure to produce results before the November election
UPDATED SEP 12, 2020
Nora Dannehy and William Barr (Getty Images)
Nora Dannehy and William Barr (Getty Images)

The Russian ghost continues to haunt American politics as a top prosecutor working for US Attorney (District of Connecticut) John Durham has stepped down from the latter’s probe of alleged FBI misconduct in the Russia investigation. Federal prosecutor Nora Dannehy, who was working for Durham on the probe for Attorney General William Barr, resigned from the justice department via email on September 10 evening, Connecticut’s Hartford Courant newspaper reported. The department confirmed the same on September 11.

Dannehy, 59, a high-profile Connecticut prosecutor, resigned partly out of concern that the probing team was being pressured for political reasons to bring out a report before the completion of the procedure, the daily report cited her colleagues as saying. Dannehy, who has worked with or for Durham over the decades, informed her colleagues in Durham's office in New Haven about her resignation from the justice department through a brief email. It did not say anything about the speculated political pressure, as per people who got the email. 

President Donald Trump and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin (Getty Images)

Durham, 70, did not immediately respond to Dannehy’s resignation. According to Courant, the veteran lawyer has never even acknowledged that the latter was in Washington working for him. Durham recruited Dannehy to join his team after he was appointed by Barr more than a year-and-half ago to assess the FBI’s legal justification for a controversial counterintelligence probe that looked for links between President Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign and Russia’s alleged efforts to interfere in the poll.

Dannehy, a career prosecutor, worked closely with Durham before leaving the US office about a decade ago to become the deputy attorney general for Connecticut. She returned to the justice department after Durham persuaded her and within weeks, she joined his team in Washington in 2019. 

Dannehy not a Trump supporter

According to Dannehy’s colleagues, she is not a supporter of Trump and expressed concern in the recent weeks by what she thought was pressure from Barr, who is known to be an ally to the president and who appointed Durham, to produce results before the November 3 election. They also said that Dannehy has been in a dilemma over resigning for several weeks, torn between her loyalty to Durham and the political concerns. Dannehy is known for her methodical working ways and is also not one who arrives at decisions quickly, a CNN report cited her former colleagues as saying. 

The fact that Dannehy suddenly left working for Durham, with whom she had a long association, has also made people more suspicious. "She’s long had a very close working relationship with John Durham. It would be extraordinary for her to have left her longtime colleague, unless there was a very good reason in her mind to do it," a lawyer who has worked with Dannehy for decades told CNN. Another lawyer was also astonished to see Dannehy leaving like that since she appeared committed to the probe and "just worked like a dog on this".

While Durham himself is tightlipped on the investigation’s direction along with his team, his associates -- who have no specific knowledge of the probe - recently said that they believe the attorney is under pressure to produce some sort of a report before the presidential election is here, Courant added. They are of the thinking that the Russia investigation group will be dismissed if Trump loses.