June 30, 2021
National Security Division’s Susan Hennessey Has Baselessly Cast Doubt on Investigations, Shown Penchant for Partisanship
Senators Raise Concerns over More Conflicts of Interest and Political Bias in Recent Justice Dept. National Security Hire
National Security Division’s Susan Hennessey Has Baselessly Cast Doubt on Investigations, Shown Penchant for Partisanship
– Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) are seeking clarity
from the Justice Department about the role that Hennessey will play in the
department’s National Security Division (NSD).
Hennessey has repeatedly and publicly expressed partisan comments about
previous and current investigations including the Justice Department inspector
general’s review of Crossfire Hurricane and Special Counsel John Durham’s
ongoing investigation, raising concerns that she is conflicted and should be
recused from such investigations. “As
a general matter, all government employees must avoid situations that create
even the appearance of impropriety and impartiality so as to not affect the
public perception of the integrity of an investigation. Ms. Hennessey’s
partisan comments show a clear political bias that undercuts her ability to
impartially work on some matters within the NSD’s purview, including the Durham
inquiry,” the senators wrote. In
a letter addressed to Attorney General Merrick Garland, the lawmakers sought
information about Hennessey’s potential role in the Durham investigation and
any access to potential draft reports and records. The senators also pressed
for transparency and asked the Attorney General if he agrees with then-Attorney
General Barr’s memo that directed Durham to submit the reports “to the maximum
extent possible…in a form that will permit public dissemination.” As
part of their conflicts of interest review, on February
3, 2021, and March
9, 2021, the senators also wrote to the Justice Department about the hiring
of Nicholas McQuaid as Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Criminal
Division. In both letters the senators raised concerns about potential
conflicts of interest in light of the fact that McQuaid was employed at Latham
& Watkins until January 20, 2021, and worked with Christopher Clark, who
Hunter Biden reportedly hired to work on his federal criminal case. The
Department has failed to fully respond to those letters, including producing
McQuaid’s recusal memo, should one exist. Grassley
is the Ranking Member of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Johnson is the Ranking
Member of the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations on the Homeland Security
and Governmental Affairs Committee. Full
text of the letter to Garland follows or can be found HERE. June 29, 2021 VIA ELECTRONIC
Honorable Merrick GarlandAttorney
of Justice Dear
Attorney General Garland: As you are aware,
we are examining potential conflicts of interest relating to recent hires at
the Department of Justice (DOJ). As part of that review, on February 3, 2021,
and March 9, 2021, we wrote to you about the hiring of Nicholas McQuaid as
Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Criminal Division. In both letters we
raised concerns about potential conflicts of interest in light of the fact that
McQuaid was employed at Latham & Watkins until January 20, 2021, and worked
with Christopher Clark, who Hunter Biden reportedly hired to work on his
federal criminal case.
You have failed to fully respond to those letters, including producing
McQuaid’s recusal memo, should one exist. Recently, DOJ hired Susan Hennessey to
work in its National Security Division (NSD).
We have concerns about her role and potential impact on ongoing matters,
including Special Counsel John Durham’s inquiry (Durham inquiry). On December
1, 2020, Ms. Hennessey expressed a clear partisan bias against the Special
Counsel’s investigation: Durham has made
abundantly clear that in a year and a half, he hasn’t come up with anything. I
guess this kind of partisan silliness has become characteristic of Barr’s
legacy, but unclear to me why Durham would want to go along with it. Ms.
Hennessey presumably made this statement without any first-hand knowledge of
Durham’s ongoing work, including its true scope and the extent of the evidence
acquired at that time. Ms. Hennessey’s apparent bias against Durham’s inquiry presents
a clear conflict that makes it impossible for her to be objective and credible
with respect to any elements relating to the Durham inquiry, should she have
access to any of it. Ms. Hennessey also expressed copious
public views in support of the fundamentally flawed Crossfire Hurricane
investigation and vouched for the Steele Dossier which, as our joint
investigation unveiled, was infected with Russian government disinformation and
demonstrably false information.
Ms. Hennessey stated that Steele was “a person whose work intelligence
professionals take seriously.”
Ms. Hennessey also publicly said that the 2018 memo from then-House
Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes exposing Crossfire Hurricane’s fundamental
flaws would need to be “debunk[ed]” before
she had opportunity to read the memo.
With respect to the Justice Department
Inspector General’s (IG) report on Crossfire Hurricane, she attacked the IG’s credibility
before the report was even completed in an effort to discredit it: This is extremely
irregular. There are growing signs that there are serious problems with the IG
report and questions as to whether this is designed to be an honest accounting
of the views of the IG or a political document driven by Barr’s conspiracy
IG found “at least” 17 significant errors and omissions in the Carter Page FISA
applications and additional Woods Procedure errors. The IG report stated, [t]hat so many
basic and fundamental errors were made on four FISA applications by three separate,
hand-picked teams, on one of the most sensitive FBI investigations that was
briefed to the highest levels within the FBI and that FBI officials expected
would eventually be subjected to close scrutiny, raised significant questions
regarding the FBI chain of command’s management and supervision of the FISA
Hennessey’s reaction to the IG report was, “I don’t think the IG findings are
significant enough to justify the work of a podcast.”As a general matter, all government
employees must avoid situations that create even the appearance of impropriety
and impartiality so as to not affect the public perception of the integrity of
an investigation. Ms.
Hennessey’s partisan comments show a clear political bias that undercuts her
ability to impartially work on some matters within the NSD’s purview, including
the Durham inquiry. At your February 22, 2021, nomination hearing, you stated
that you are “very much committed to transparency and to explaining Justice
Accordingly, please answer the following no later than July 13, 2021: 1.
Ms. Hennessey have any role in the Durham inquiry? If so, please describe that
Ms. Hennessey have authorization to access any aspect of the Durham inquiry,
including records? If so, has she used that authorization? If so, for what?
Ms. Hennessey been recused from all matters relating to the Durham inquiry? If
not, why not? If so, please provide all records relating to her recusal
obligations, including a recusal memo.
describe the extent to which DOJ officials were aware of Ms. Hennessey’s
previous partisan statements when considering hiring her to work at DOJ. 5.
is the status of the Durham inquiry? When will it be completed? 6.
Attorney General Barr’s October 19, 2020, memo, cited 28 C.F.R § 600.8, which
requires Durham to submit interim reports and a final report to you. Barr’s
memo also directed Durham to submit the reports “to the maximum extent
possible…in a form that will permit public dissemination.”  a.
you agree with former Attorney General Barr that interim reports and a final
report should be drafted “to the maximum extent possible…in a form that will
permit public dissemination”? If not, why not? If so, what steps have you taken
to ensure that they will be produced in that manner?b.
Ms. Hennessey have access to any of Durham’s draft and final reports? c.
provide a list of all DOJ employees who will be able to review draft and final versions
of the Durham report. Thank
you for your attention to this matter. Sincerely,
 Daniel Chaitin and Jerry Dunleavy, Tucker Carlson reports DOJ hired ex-business partner of Hunter Biden criminal defense attorney, Washington Examiner (Jan. 29, 2021), https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/news/tucker-carlson-justice-department-hunter-biden-attorney-partner.
 Harper Neidig, CNN legal analyst joins DOJ’s national security division, The Hill, (May 10, 2021), https://thehill.com/policy/national-security/552649-cnn-legal-analyst-joins-dojs-national-security-division.
 Chuck Ross, DOJ’s Top National Security Lawyer Slammed Investigation Into Government Wrongdoing in Surveillance of Trump Aide, Washington Free Beacon (May 10, 2021), https://freebeacon.com/biden-administration/dojs-top-national-security-lawyer-slammed-investigation-into-government-wrongdoing-in-surveillance-of-trump-aide/.
 Press Release, Senator Charles E. Grassley, IG Footnotes: Serious Problems with Dossier Sources Didn’t Stop FBI’s Page Surveillance (Apr. 15, 2020), https://www.grassley.senate.gov/news/news-releases/ig-footnotes-serious-problems-dossier-sources-didn-t-stop-fbi-s-page-surveillance.
 Kimberley Strassel, The Justice Department’s Resident Conspiracy Theorist, The Wall Street Journal (May 13, 2021), https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-justice-departments-resident-conspiracist-11620944310.
 Quinta Jurecic, Devin Nunes’s Mystery Memo: Repeating the Cycle of Distraction, Lawfare (Jan. 20, 2018), https://www.lawfareblog.com/devin-nuness-mystery-memo-repeating-cycle-distraction.
 Ashe Schow, As Expected, Media Move to Discredit IG Report Regarding Origins of the Russian Collusion Narrative, The Daily Wire (Nov. 16, 2019) https://www.dailywire.com/news/as-expected-media-move-to-discredit-ig-report-regarding-origins-of-the-russian-collusion-narrative.
 Jordan Davidson, Biden’s DOJ Hired Full-On Russia Collusion Hoaxer Susan Hennessey To Its National Security Division, The Federalist (May 10, 2021), https://thefederalist.com/2021/05/10/bidens-doj-hired-full-on-russia-collusion-hoaxer-susan-hennessey-to-its-national-security-division/; see also Tobias Hoonhout & Isaac Schorr, DOJ Pick Susan Hennessey’s Long, Sordid History of Partisan Conspiracy-Mongering, National Review (May 10, 2021), https://www.nationalreview.com/news/doj-pick-susan-hennesseys-long-sordid-history-of-partisan-conspiracy-mongering/.
 Specifically, 5 C.F.R. § 2635.502, advises that a government employee should seek clearance before participating in any matter
that could cause his or her impartiality to be questioned. Executive Order 12674, “Principles of Ethical Conduct for Government
Officers and Employees,” makes clear that “[e]mployees shall not hold financial interests that conflict with the conscientious
performance of duty,” “[e]mployees shall act impartially and not give preferential treatment to any private organization or
individual,” and “[e]mployees shall endeavor to avoid any actions creating the appearance that they are violating the law or the
ethical standards set forth in this part.” Emphasis added.
 At your nomination hearing on February 22, 2021, Senator Grassley asked you, “If confirmed, would you commit to publicly releasing Special Counsel Durham’s report, just like [the] Mueller report was made public?” You responded, “So, Senator, I am a great believer in transparency. I would, though, have to talk with Mr. Durham and understand the nature of what he has been doing and the nature of the report. But I am a big – very much committed to transparency and to explaining Justice Department decision-making.” Hearing Transcript at 38. https://www.judiciary.senate.gov/meetings/the-nomination-of-the-honorable-merrick-brian-garland-to-be-attorney-general-of-the-united-states-day-1.
 Charlie Savage, Barr Makes Durham a Special Counsel in a Bid to Entrench Scrutiny of the Russia Inquiry, The New York Times (Dec. 1, 2020), https://www.nytimes.com/2020/12/01/us/politics/john-durham-special-counsel-russia-investigation.html. See also, https://www.politico.com/f/?id=00000176-2008-d692-a977-3c7afcd50000 (copy of then-Attorney General Barr’s order appointing Durham as a special counsel.).
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