News Roundup: Durham Hearing, John Eastman’s Disciplinary Proceedings, and One Year Since Dobbs

During a House Judiciary Committee hearing on Wednesday, Special Counsel John Durham testified that he’d found no evidence of criminal activity during his investigation of the FBI’s probe of Russian election interference.

While allies of former President Trump continued to try to spin Durham’s recently released report, other members of Congress pointed to the troubling level of politicization underscoring his years-long, multimillion-dollar inquiry — including by citing public records obtained by American Oversight. 

  • Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee asked Durham how often he met with Attorney General William Barr in 2019, referring to documents we uncovered. “According to now-public records, Barr scheduled at least 18 meetings or calls with [Durham] between 2019 March and October 2019,” she said. One of those meetings took place just three days after Special Counsel Robert Mueller submitted his report on the Russia probe to Barr.
  • Durham was also asked about how often he texted with Barr, with committee members referencing text messages that we obtained. 
  • Another indication of the political roots of Durham’s investigation — specifically, Barr’s preconceived views on the Russia probe — was the memo Barr sent then-Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein in 2018 outlining his concerns. The text message from Barr to Rosenstein containing the memo, in which Barr wrote that he felt “very deeply about some of the issues taking shape in the Mueller matter,” was also highlighted by the committee.
  • Rep. Madeleine Dean asked Durham about an April 2019 email we obtained that was sent by Seth DuCharme, who was then a top adviser to Barr. DuCharme wrote to Durham that Barr had “asked me to provide you with my support and assistance.” Read more here about DuCharme’s involvement, as revealed by recently lifted redactions on public records we sued for.

Saturday marks one year since the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision overturning the right to an abortion. Read about how we’re investigating the impacts of that ruling in states across the country, and take a look at these related stories:

  • Where abortion laws stand in every state a year after the Supreme Court overturned Roe (Associated Press)
  • Googling ‘abortion clinic near me’? The top result is often an anti-abortion clinic (NPR)
  • Judge rejects Missouri attorney general’s bid to rewrite ballot language on abortion issue (Saint Louis Post-Dispatch)
  • ‘We’re not going to win that fight’: Bans on abortion and gender-affirming care are driving doctors from Texas (19th News)
  • Judge blocks Wyoming’s 1st-in-the-nation abortion pill ban while court decides lawsuit (Associated Press)
  • A year after fall of Roe, 25 million women live in states with abortion bans or tighter restrictions (Associated Press)

Disciplinary hearings began this week in California for Trump-allied lawyer John Eastman, who is facing potential disbarment for his role in helping the former president try to overturn the 2020 election. Here are some other headlines related to investigations into the attempted coup:

  • FBI resisted opening probe into Trump’s role on Jan. 6 for more than a year (Washington Post)
  • ‘POTUS just called me’: Pa. GOP emails shed new light on 2020 election upheaval (Philadelphia Inquirer)
  • Exclusive: Special counsel trades immunity for fake elector testimony as Jan 6 probe heats up (CNN)

On the Records

Gender-Affirming Care Ban in Idaho
In April, Idaho Gov. Brad Little signed into law a ban on gender-affirming care for minors, with physicians facing up to 10 years in prison for providing such care to transgender youth.

  • The same month Little signed the bill, we submitted a public records request to the Idaho attorney general’s office asking for all final assessments, reports, and similar records related to gender-affirming care.
  • The office told us that it had found 85 records responsive to our request, but is withholding all 85 records because “they are intra-agency or interagency advisory or deliberative material.” 

Other Stories We’re Following

Election Denial and Threats to Democracy
  • Tarrant County taps deputy clerk to be new elections administrator (Texas Tribune)
  • Warren County appoints conspiracy theorist as new auditor (Iowa Starting Line)
  • Georgia officials won’t take over elections in state’s largest county, debunk conspiracies (Associated Press)
  • Georgia poll workers targeted by Trump are cleared of false election fraud claims (NBC News)
  • From election hero to zero: Georgia official’s dismissal of security audit could mean trouble in 2024 (Politico)
  • Maricopa County Recorder Stephen Richer sues Kari Lake for defamation (Arizona Republic
Voting Rights
  • Wisconsin Republicans’ convention resolutions call for ending most early voting and curbing on-campus voting (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
  • States with low election turnout did little in 2023 to expand voting access (Ohio Capital Journal)
  • Gov. Abbott vetoes bill to improve mail voting for disabled voters (Votebeat)
In the States
  • Gov. Ron DeSantis used secretive panel to flip state Supreme Court (Washington Post
  • Texas law overrides worker safeguards like water breaks as temperatures rise (Washington Post)
  • Texas Sen. Angela Paxton barred from voting in husband’s impeachment trial (Associated Press)
  • Impeached Texas attorney general partnered with troubled businessman to push opioid program (Texas Tribune/ProPublica)
  • Minneapolis police engaged in pattern of misconduct, Justice Dept. says (Washington Post
National News
  • Justice Samuel Alito took luxury fishing vacation with GOP billionaire who later had cases before the court (ProPublica)
  • New figures reveal scope of military discrimination against LGBTQ troops, with over 29,000 denied honorable discharges (CBS News
LGBTQ Rights
  • Judge strikes down Arkansas law banning gender transition care for minors (New York Times)
  • Bill banning trans athletes added to bill to limit health care for Ohio LGBTQ youth (Ohio Capital Journal)
  • Federal judge knocks down Florida’s Medicaid ban on gender-affirming treatment (Politico)
  • Well-funded Christian group behind US effort to roll back LGBTQ+ rights (Guardian)
  • Ohio lawmakers and religious lobbyists coordinate on anti-trans legislation (Ohio Capital Journal
Threats to Education
  • University of Arkansas dissolves DEI office (Inside Higher Ed)
  • Houston ISD’s new state-appointed superintendent wants to use the same polarizing approach he applied in Dallas schools (Texas Tribune)
  • Florida school district and state ed leaders sued over restricting kids book on penguins (Politico)
  • Pinellas teachers challenge 2 school board members tied to Moms for Liberty (Tampa Bay Times
Government Transparency and Public Records Law
  • After police photo release, L.A. city attorney tries to weaken public records law (Los Angeles Times
  • ‘All we received was abandonment’: Migrants sent to Sacramento by DeSantis speak out (Los Angeles Times
  • Bused from Texas to L.A.: Little food, sketchy bathroom facilities for 20 hours on the road (Los Angeles Times)
  • U.S. rejects asylum seekers at much higher rates under new Biden policy (Los Angeles Times)
  • Medical care at U.S. border facilities is unsafe for migrants, DHS memo says (Washington Post
  • LexisNexis is selling your personal data to ICE so it can try to predict crimes (The Intercept) 
Trump Accountability
  • Trump real estate deal in Oman underscores ethics concerns (New York Times)
  • Judge bars Trump from disclosing — or keeping — evidence in documents case (CNBC)
  • Judge sets tentative trial date for Trump documents case (Politico)