Attorney General William Barr has given the prosecutor he appointed to investigate the origins of the Trump-Russia investigation additional protection and a special envoy to complete the work without being easily fired.
Barr told The Associated Press that he appointed U.S. attorney John Durham as special adviser in October under the same federal law that ruled special adviser Robert Mueller in the original Russia investigation.
Barr said Durham’s investigation focused on the behavior of FBI agents who worked on the Russia investigation known as the Crossfire Hurricane.
According to federal regulations, a special advisor can only be dismissed by the Attorney General and for certain reasons such as misconduct, breach of duty or conflict of interest. A prosecutor general must document such reasons in writing.
The FBI began investigating in July 2016 whether the Trump campaign was being coordinated with Russia to influence the outcome of the presidential election. That investigation was inherited almost a year later by Müller, who ultimately couldn’t find enough evidence to charge Trump or any of his associates with conspiracy with Russia.
Attorney General William Barr announced in an interview with The Associated Press that he had named US attorney John Durham as a special advisor back in October [File: Andrew Harnik/AP Photo]However, the first few months of the investigation, during which agents were given secret surveillance warrants against a former Trump election worker, were long scrutinized by the president and other critics of the investigation, which found that the FBI made significant mistakes.
A general report from the inspector corroborated this criticism but found no evidence that errors in the surveillance applications or other problems with the probe were due to partisan bias.
Barr said he ruled that “the best thing” is to appoint the investigators to the investigation, “under the same regime that applies to Muller, to reassure Durham and his team that they can do their job regardless of the outcome of can conclude. ” The vote”.
President-elect Joe Biden’s transition team did not immediately comment on the appointment.
In a statement, House Justice Committee chairman Jerry Nadler, a Democrat, denounced the appointment as a “distraction.”
“This order only undermines the Justice Department’s credibility under Attorney General Barr’s tenure,” said Nadler.
“This order is another desperate attempt to fuel President Trump’s fixation on events that have been investigated again and again, including by the department’s independent inspector general,” he said.
Jerry Nadler, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, said Durham’s appointment as special adviser to further investigate the origins of the FBI’s Trump-Russia investigation is against DOJ regulations [File: Kevin Dietsch via AP Photo]The current investigation, a criminal investigation, was very broad but has since “narrowed significantly” and is now “really focused on the activities of the Crossfire Hurricane investigation within the FBI,” Barr said.
He said he expected Durham to detail whether additional law enforcement measures would be taken and publish a report on the results of the investigation.
In an October 19 order received by the AP, Barr said Durham had the power to “investigate whether any federal official, employee, or person or organization is violating the law in connection with any intelligence, intelligence or law enforcement activity has “2016 presidential campaigns, anyone associated with the campaigns or the Trump administration.
A senior Justice Department official told the AP that the Durham probe had not been expanded, although the order stated that it was “including, but not limited to, Crossfire Hurricane and the investigation of Special Adviser Robert S. Mueller III” acts.
The official said that line refers specifically to FBI staff who worked on the Russia investigation prior to Mueller’s appointment in May 2017, a critical control area for both Durham and the Justice Department Inspector General, who made a number of errors and omissions in surveillance detected applications for a former Trump campaign employee.
The focus on the FBI, rather than the CIA and Intelligence, suggests that Durham may have passed some of the more fiery claims that Trump supporters had hoped would make allegations of wrongdoing or even crime – namely, the Question How intelligence agencies concluded that Russia had interfered in the 2016 elections