Top CIA lawyer made a criminal referral tied to Trump's conduct — but the Justice Department ignored it: report

Top CIA lawyer made a criminal referral tied to Trump's conduct — but the Justice Department ignored it: report
Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead

The Central Intelligence Agency's top lawyer says she made a criminal referral to the Justice Department regarding the whistleblower's allegation weeks before that person filed a formal complaint, according to NBC News.


The referral by CIA general counsel Courtney Simmons Elwood, a Trump appointee, was separate from the criminal referral made by the intelligence community's inspector general (IC IG), who investigated the complaint and ultimately concluded it was both credible and urgent.

The Department of Justice has come under increased scrutiny over its handling of both the whistleblower complaint and its failure to investigate whether Donald Trump committed a crime during his July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. Justice Department officials claim they didn't consider Elwood's referral, made by phone, to be formal in nature. As for the referral made in writing by IC IG Michael Atkinson, the department concluded that Trump had not committed a campaign finance violation because it wasn't clear the investigation of a political rival could be considered a "thing of value."

That conclusion alone was "so dubious and so questionable," former Justice Department official Neal Katyal told MSNBC, that the department's own inspector general is now almost certainly reviewing how the entire episode was handled. "I'm sure it's open," Katyal said of an IG inquiry.

But the revelation that a second referral appears to have been made and ignored just adds to the questions surrounding the Justice Department’s conduct under Attorney General William Barr's direction. Other questions include why the only crime the department considered was a campaign finance violation when bribery, extortion, and fraud, for instance, may have been other considerations.

One thing is for sure: The irregularities in how the Justice Department is functioning just keep piling up under Barr.±

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