The U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York is the Justice Department’s new point man on all things Ukraine — a twist following the President’s recent effort to press Ukraine for political dirt.
U.S. Attorney Richard Donoghue, will assist in coordinating “several open matters” being handled by U.S. Attorneys and other DOJ officials “that in some way potentially relate to Ukraine,” Assistant Attorney General Stephen E. Boyd wrote to House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler on Tuesday. Politico first reported the letter.
“Any and all new matters relating to Ukraine shall be directed exclusively to EDNY for investigation and appropriate handling,” read an internal DOJ memo on the matter dated Monday, also reported by Politico.
Attorney General Bill Barr and Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen in recent weeks have assigned several U.S. attorneys to handle politically sensitive matters. But it’s not clear what exact role Donoghue will play, nor why specifically he’s needed for the job.
Boyd said in his letter to Nadler that the arrangement was put in place “to avoid duplication of effort across Department Office and components, to facilitate information sharing, to ensure there are no conflicts among potentially overlapping matters, and to efficiently marshal the resources of the Department.”
Barr had already assigned one U.S. attorney, Scott Brady of Pittsburgh, to Ukraine-related matters, the Washington Post reported earlier this month. Boyd confirmed Brady’s involvement in his letter to Nadler.
“To protect the integrity of ongoing matters, particularly with respect to unsolicited information offered to the Department, the Deputy Attorney General has also assigned Scott Brady, the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania, to assist in the receipt, processing, and preliminary analysis of new information provided by the public that may be relevant to matters relating to Ukraine.”
The internal memo Monday to all U.S. attorneys, DOJ component heads and law enforcement agency heads described Donoghue as “currently handling certain Ukraine-related matters.” The department, the memo said, had assigned Donoghue to “coordinate existing matters” and to “assess, investigate, and address” any other Ukraine matters — including potentially expanding existing investigations or opening new ones. Politico’s Natasha Bertrand published the memo.
The memo instructed its recipients to consult with Donoghue “regarding issues that reasonably could related to your current investigations.”
It’s not clear why Barr chose Brady to look through Ukraine materials, nor why he chose other U.S. attorneys to handle an ever-growing list of sensitive matters.
On Friday, several reports indicated that beginning in late January, outside prosecutors including the U.S. Attorney in St. Louis, Jeff Jensen, began reviewing the circumstances surrounding the FBI’s January 2017 interview of Michael Flynn, in which the then-incoming national security adviser lied about his conversations with Russians. Flynn’s supporters assert he was “ambushed” in the interview. He’s sought to withdraw his guilty plea for lying in the interview.
Another U.S. attorney, John Durham of Connecticut, is currently investigating the intelligence community’s early handling and investigation of Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election and related matters. President Trump reportedly wants Durham to conclude his review in time for him to use the findings as reelection campaign fodder.
The President was reportedly furious that yet another U.S. Attorney’s review of several Clinton-related matters ended with a whimper, as the Washington Post reported in January.