Attorney General William Barr means business when it comes to investigating real, actual crimes.
He is sending a strong message to the world that he is not playing games.
AG Bill Barr has just appointed a Connecticut US attorney to look closely into the origins of the Russia investigation, and, basically, to investigate the investigators.
John Durham, the US attorney in Connecticut, is now in charge of examining and determining if intelligence collection, or spying, on the Trump campaign, was “lawful and appropriate” or not.
AG Barr appointed Mr. Durham to take charge of this investigation. With this appointment, the AG is actively addressing accusations from the Trump administration and others that the Justice Department and FBI illegally spied on his campaign under Obama in 2016.
According to AP:
Democrats have accused Trump of using the allegations to divert attention from special counsel Robert Mueller’s findings that Russia aided Trump’s 2016 campaign and that he could not exonerate the president on the question of whether he tried to impede Mueller’s investigation. Mueller did not find a criminal conspiracy between the campaign and the Kremlin.
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.
Barr provided no details about what “spying” may have taken place but appeared to be alluding to a surveillance warrant the FBI obtained on a former Trump associate, Carter Page, and the FBI’s use of an informant while the bureau was investigating former Trump campaign foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos.
FBI Director Chris Wray said last week that he does not consider court-approved FBI surveillance to be “spying” and said he has no evidence the FBI illegally monitored Trump’s campaign.
Durham’s inquiry, which will focus on whether the government’s methods to collect intelligence relating to the Trump campaign were lawful and appropriate, is separate from an investigation by the Justice Department’s inspector general. The agency’s watchdog is also examining the Russia probe’s origins and Barr has said he expects the watchdog report to be done in May or June.
Former Attorney General Jeff Sessions had appointed another U.S. attorney, John Huber, in March 2018 to review aspects of the Russia investigation, following grievances from Republican lawmakers.
The review by Huber, Utah’s top federal prosecutor and an Obama administration holdover, is a “full, complete and objective evaluation” of Republican concerns, Sessions said at the time.
Congressional Republicans have also indicated they intend to examine how the investigation that shadowed Trump’s presidency for nearly two years began and whether there are any legal concerns.
Durham is a career prosecutor who was nominated for his post as U.S. attorney in Connecticut by Trump. He has previously investigated law enforcement corruption, the destruction of CIA videotapes and the Boston FBI office’s relationship with mobsters.
It is important to remind everyone here that the Democrats are also trying to hold Barr in contempt for not releasing the full Mueller report. He redacted less than 2 percent of the report because it is ILLEGAL to give out grand jury and witness testimony, names, and other information if no crime was committed and no charges were filed. So, basically, the Democrats are holding Barr in contempt for actually following the law. That says a lot.
John Durham, the Connecticut US attorney, was unanimously confirmed by the Senate in 2018. Many see him as an outstanding pick for the job:
John Durham is an outstanding choice for special prosecutor investigating 2016 pre-election activities—his selection further demonstrates Bill Barr’s tenacity and determined desire to get to the truth and restore credibility at the top tier of the DOJ and FBI.
— Mark Meadows (@RepMarkMeadows) May 14, 2019
As well as conducting this new investigation into the Russia investigation, Durham will still serve as chief federal prosecutor in Connecticut.