Thursday, 7 November 2019

A Rare Animal: Integrity and No Leaks

A Trustworthy Professional Prosecutor

We wonder whether our readers have heard of an innocuous chap called John Durham.  We reckon not.  National Review Online's Jim Geraghty is the Senior Political Correspondent of National Review.  He has written a lengthy piece profiling the mysterious Mr Durham. 

We reproduce some bits and pieces of Jim Geraghty's article so that readers can get the flavour--but, we hazard a guess--you will want to read the whole piece. 

Firstly, the headline of the article raises high stakes: "The Last Trusted Prosecutor in Washington: John Durham is the legendary lawman digging into how the intelligence probe of Donald Trump started."

Here a a couple of paragraphs which should get the curiosity genes scrambling. 
To say Durham is tight-lipped is an understatement; he lets his courtroom arguments speak for him and rarely talks to reporters at all. Those who have covered him for years — or, more accurately, tried to cover him — say that when he does run into reporters, he is cordial but uninformative, and almost never on the record. In Durham’s questionnaire for the Senate while awaiting confirmation to be a U.S. Attorney, he was asked to list his written work. He answered that he had never written or published any books, articles, reports, or letters to the editor. (The Senate confirmed him unanimously, with home-state senator Richard Blumenthal (D., Conn.) calling him “a fierce, fair prosecutor” who “dedicated his life to public service and the pursuit of justice.”) Durham is nicknamed, inevitably, “the Bull,” and his reputation makes clear he doesn’t take any of it from anyone.
And Durham has plenty of signs of integrity and professionalism.  He is not in the business of trying to showboat himself to enhance his standing, reputation, and career.

But in his subsequent remarks, Durham made it sound like his reticence to speak publicly wasn’t mere shyness so much as deliberate strategy to serve justice: “One thing that I try to bear in mind, and try to encourage in new young prosecutors, particularly those who are making their bones or cutting their teeth, is an awareness of the incredible power that is wielded by law enforcement, and perhaps federal law enforcement in particular. Issuing a subpoena can destroy somebody’s reputation. It can damage their business, hurt their families. It is an awesome power that we have, that should only be used in appropriate instances. . . . It is as important for the system as for prosecutors to protect the secrecy of proceedings, not because we want them to be secret, but because we’re not always right. Maybe accusations that are lodged against somebody are untrue, and again we can destroy a person if that information gets out.”
Geraghty traces Durham's career which flies well below the radar screen of what is histrionic and self-aggrandizement.  Durham has form--and that form has a lot to do with integrity.  He has prosecuted--fairly--crooks of all kinds of political stripes.  He has prosecuted mobsters.  He has prosecuted corrupt politicians.  He works quietly, out of sight of the media and politicians. 

Geraghty's conclusion?
From all this, we can surmise a few things about Durham’s ongoing investigation into the launch of the probe of Donald Trump and his potential connections to Russia during the 2016 campaign. Durham will not speak to the press at all until he is done, and probably not even then. He and his team are extremely unlikely to leak. He is not afraid to reach conclusions that will disappoint or frustrate Attorney General Barr or President Trump. He will not be rushed; there is no guarantee that Durham will reach any prosecutorial decisions before the 2020 elections. And he will investigate so extensively and thoroughly that no reasonable observer will be able to argue that something important was missed. As Sullivan describes Durham, “He will be in constant pursuit of the truth and the facts and the evidence. John doesn’t take days off. He is methodical, but he is always working.”

If Durham chooses to bring charges against any official who launched the Trump probe, history suggests he is extremely likely to persuade a jury to convict the accused and sustain those convictions upon appeal. And if he does not bring charges, it is extremely unlikely that any other prosecutor could have succeeded; regardless of what the official did, the evidence would not be there to convict or sustain a conviction.  
So, let's hope we all have the requisite patience. 

No comments: