Attorney General William Barr has appointed US Attorney John H. Durham of Connecticut to examine the origins of the Trump-Russia investigation to determine if the FBI’s spying on the Trump campaign was “lawful and appropriate,” according to Fox News.
The move comes as the Trump administration has demanded answers over the use of “informants” on his 2016 campaign.
According to Fox, Barr is “serious” and has assembled a team from the DOJ to participate in the probe, adding that Durham is known as a “hard-charging, bulldog” prosecutor according to their source.
Sources familiar with matter say the focus of the probe includes the pre-transition period — prior to Nov. 7, 2016 – – including the use and initiation of informants, as well as potential Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) abuses.
An informant working for U.S. intelligence posed as a Cambridge University research assistant in September 2016 to try extracting any possible ties between the Trump campaign and Russia from George Papadopoulos, then a Trump foreign policy adviser, it emerged earlier this month. Papadopoulos told Fox News the informant tried to “seduce” him as part of the “bizarre” episode.
Durham previously has investigated law enforcement corruption, the destruction of CIA videotapes and the Boston FBI office’s relationship with mobsters. He is set to continue to serve as the chief federal prosecutor in Connecticut. –Fox News
Of note – in January House Republicans Jim Jordan and Mark Meadows wrote to Durham, saying that they had “discovered” he was “investigating former FBI General Counsel James Baker” over unauthorized leaks to the media.
Durham has a history of serving as a special prosecutor, investigating wrongdoing among national security officials – including the FBI’s ties to a Boston crime boss, as well as accusations of CIA detainee abuse.
According to the report, Durham’s review would run in parallel with the ongoing DOJ probe by Inspector General (IG) Michael Horowitz. Meanwhile, Republicans have been seeking answers from US Attorney for Utah, John Huber, who was appointed by former AG Jeff Sessions to review FBI and DOJ surveillance abuses, as well as authorities’ handling of the probe into the Clinton Foundation.
Not much has come of Huber’s investigation, while Republicans have cautioned that he has spoken with few key witnesses and whistleblowers.
Durham’s appointment comes about a month after Barr told members of Congress he believed “spying did occur” on the Trump campaign in 2016. He later said he didn’t mean anything pejorative and was gathering a team to look into the origins of the special counsel’s investigation.
Democrats have pummeled Barr in frustration following revelations in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report that the Trump campaign did not collude with Russian actors, despite numerous offers by Russians to assist the campaign. Mueller’s final report has led to a bitter D.C. battle over the limited number of redactions in the report, which the DOJ says are legally necessary because they pertain to grand jury matters. –Fox News
As part of the FBI’s FISA application on Trump campaign aide Carter Page, the FBI cut-and-pasted from a disputed Washington Post article which suggested that the Trump campaign may have been compromised. The agency also repeatedly told the FISA court that it “did not believe” UK ex-spy Christopher Steele was the source of a Yahoo News article written by Michael Isikoff which implicated Page in Russian collusion.
London court records, however, reveal that contrary to the FBI’s statements, Steele had briefed Yahoo News and other media outlets in the fall of 2016 at the urging of his employer Fusion GPS – which the Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee (DNC) had paid for anti-Trump opposition research. This information was withheld from FISA judges during the application to surveil Page.
What’s more, the FBI could not verify the dodgy dossier Steele assembled. Speaking Fox on ‘Sunday Morning Futures,’ Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham said “There’s a document that’s classified that I’m gonna try to get unclassified that takes the dossier — all the pages of it — and it has verification to one side,” adding “There really is no verification, other than media reports that were generated by reporters that received the dossier.”
Graham cited a recent report from The Hill‘s John Solomon which reveals that the FBI was specifically informed that Steele had admitted he was “keen” to influence the 2016 election with his document.