Attorney General William Barr highlighted during a short interview on Monday the credentials of U.S. Attorney John Durham — who is leading the criminal investigation into the origins of the Russia probe — as he also revealed that he is not really personally involved in the investigation.
“[John] Durham, who is the U.S. attorney for Connecticut, is in charge of the investigation. And I understand he is making great progress,” Barr told Fox News. “As you know, he’s 35-year veteran of the Department. Great reputation for nonpartisanship. He was selected by two Democratic attorneys general to do sensitive investigations for them. He is by-the-book kind of guy. He’s thorough and fair. And I’m confident he’s going to get to the bottom of things.”
The interview with Fox News in Chicago comes one week after The New York Times reported that the investigation — which started out as an administrative review — had shifted into a full-fledged criminal investigation.
Regarding former intelligence officials who have criticized the investigation, Barr said: “We’ll let the chips fall where they may. I think they all know John Durham’s reputation, and we’ll just see how it how it turns out. But I do want to say that one of the reasons Mr. Durham is able to make the kind of progress he’s making is because Director Wray and his team at the FBI have just been outstanding in the support and responsiveness they’ve given.”
Barr then elaborated on why he traveled to Italy and why other countries are involved in the criminal investigation.
“Well, some of the countries that John Durham thought might have some information or be helpful to his investigation wanted preliminarily to talk to me about the scope of the investigation,” Barr said. “So I initially discussed these matters with those countries, then introduce them to John Durham and established a channel by which Mr. Durham can obtain assistance from those countries. But he is in charge of the investigation. I’m not doing the investigation.”
The Times noted that shifting the administrative review into a criminal investigation gives Durham “the power to subpoena for witness testimony and documents, to impanel a grand jury and to file criminal charges.”
“Mr. Durham has indicated he wants to interview former officials who ran the C.I.A. in 2016 but has yet to question either Mr. Brennan or James R. Clapper Jr., the former director of national intelligence,” The Times added. “Some C.I.A. officials have retained criminal lawyers in anticipation of being interviewed.”
A couple of days before the Times’ report, Fox News reported that the investigation had “expanded based on new evidence uncovered during a recent trip to Rome with Attorney General Bill Barr.”
“The sources said Durham was ‘very interested’ to question former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and former CIA Director John Brennan, an anti-Trump critic who recently dismissed the idea,” Fox News added. “The two Obama administration officials were at the helm when the unverified and largely discredited Steele dossier, written by British ex-spy Christopher Steele and funded by the Hillary Clinton campaign and Democratic National Committee, was used to justify a secret surveillance warrant against former Trump adviser Carter Page.”