A Justice Department official who helped oversee the probe into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server and the possible Russian interference with the 2016 election is now stepping down from his role, reports The Washington Post.
David Laufman is an experienced federal prosecutor who in 2014 became chief of the National Security Division’s Counterintelligence and Export Section, said farewell to colleagues Wednesday.
His departure comes at the same time when President Trump and Republican allies have been accusing the Justice Department, the FBI, and special counsel Robert Mueller of mishandling both the Clinton investigation and the Russian probe.
It’s been questioned whether his stepping down is just a retirement decision made by himself or a strongly suggested move by the current administration.
“It’s tough to leave a mission this compelling and an institution as exceptional as the Department of Justice,” said Laufman, 59. “But I know that prosecutors and agents will continue to bring to their work precisely what the American people should expect: a fierce and relentless commitment to protect the national security of the United States.”
Laufman refused to talk about either investigation with the Washington Post.
Laufman came under attack from conservative journalists and media watch-dogs last year and people claimed him to be the source of “national security leaks.”
Some have pointed to his donations to Barack Obama’s presidential campaign in previous years, but then others in defense of Laufman’s bipartisanship note that he also served as a political appointee in a Republican administration, most notably as chief of staff to Deputy Attorney General Larry Thompson under President George W. Bush from 2001 to 2003.
Laufman contributed a total of about $880 to Obama’s two presidential campaigns, according to Federal Election Commission records. He has not donated to Hillary Clinton’s campaigns, records show.
During Laufman’s tenure, the Justice Department stepped up enforcement of the Foreign Agents Registration Act, a 1938 law created to counter Nazi propaganda efforts in the United States, reports The Washington Post.
The FARA unit last year pressed the company backing RT America, a Russian-funded broadcast network, to register. And it pushed Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign manager, to register his consulting work on behalf of a pro-Kremlin political party in Ukraine.
Building on the FARA unit’s work, Mueller in October indicted Manafort and his business partner Rick Gates, accusing them of, among other things, acting as an “unregistered agent of a foreign principal” and issuing “false and misleading FARA statements.”
Then in November, Mueller obtained a plea agreement from Flynn, who conceded he had lied to the FBI about his discussions with the Russian ambassador.
Whether or not Laufman is indeed responsible for leaking crucial information for national security, it is a good sign that more and more Obama hold over’s are leaving the most powerful agencies in the government, to hopefully push out any agents who would wish to do badly to the current administration.