AG Barr Appoints U.S. Attorney to Investigate Origins of Russia Investigation

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In a move long sought by President Trump, Attorney General William Barr has assigned a federal prosecutor to examine how the Russia investigation began.

John Durham
Bob Child/AP via The Washington Post

John Durham, a Connecticut U.S. Attorney will be conducting an inquiry into the origins of the investigation. The purpose of his appointment is to determine if investigators’ efforts to collect intelligence regarding the Trump campaign were “lawful and appropriate.”

The Trump administration has continuously been seeking more information concerning surveillance of their camp.

More Investigations

This investigation is the third known inquiry regarding the F.B.I.’s counterintelligence probe being opened during the 2016 election. That investigation, of course, was to examine possible ties connecting Russian election interference to Trump associates.

Use of informants and wiretap applications are being separately examined by Michael E. Horowitz, the department’s inspector general. This inquiry is also exploring whether a political bias existed that may have influenced decisions to launch the original investigation.

Additionally, Utah’s U.S. attorney John W. Huber has also been reviewing the Russia investigation.

Republican Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, and chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, plans to examine the investigation, too. He has said that he intends to review several aspects of how law enforcement approached the investigation into Russian meddling.

U.S. Attorney John Durham

This isn’t the first time Durham has acted as a special prosecutor in investigating potential misconduct of national security officials. He has been a lawyer for the Justice Department since 1982. In the past, he has overseen investigations into the F.B.I.’s handling informants and the destruction of CIA interrogation videotapes.

He was nominated to be Connecticut’s U.S. Attorney by President Trump in 2017 and was sworn in by voice vote in February of 2018.

Surveillance of Trump Associates

Attorney General Barr, during his congressional testimony, expressed concerns regarding the Russia investigation, particularly surveillance conducted regarding Trump associates.

“I think spying did occur,” Barr said. “The question is whether it was adequately predicated. And I’m not suggesting that it wasn’t adequately predicated. But I need to explore that.”

The term “spying” echoes accusations made by President Trump himself, as he’s claimed his campaign was unfairly targeted.

A week ago, F.B.I. Director Christopher Wray said he was unaware of any illegal surveillance. He also refused to call the bureau’s work “spying.”

“That’s not the term I would use,” Wray specifically told senators when questioned about Barr’s testimony.