Attorney General William Barr has appointed U.S. Attorney John Durham to be special counsel in the criminal investigation into the origins of the Trump-Russia probe.
Appointing Durham gives him “extra protection” to continue the investigation as a transition in presidential administrations is likely to take place in a little under two months. Barr’s move will make it harder for the incoming Biden administration to fire Durham and end the probe.
The Associated Press reported on Tuesday that Barr made the move back in October under the same federal statute that was used to appoint Robert Mueller as special counsel back in the early days of the Trump administration.
The AP reports:
The current investigation, a criminal probe, had begun very broadly but has since “narrowed considerably” and now “really is focused on the activities of the Crossfire Hurricane investigation within the FBI,” Barr said. He said he expects Durham would detail whether any additional prosecutions will be brought and make public a report of the investigation’s findings.
In an Oct. 19 order, obtained by The Associated Press, Barr says Durham is authorized “to investigate whether any federal official, employee or any person or entity violated the law in connection with the intelligence, counter-intelligence or law enforcement activities” directed at the 2016 presidential campaigns, anyone associated with the campaigns or the Trump administration. …
A senior Justice Department official told the AP that although the order details that it is “including but not limited to Crossfire Hurricane and the investigation of Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III,” the Durham probe has not expanded. The official said that line specifically relates to FBI personnel who worked on the Russia investigation before the May 2017 appointment of Mueller, a critical area of scrutiny for both Durham and for the Justice Department inspector general, which identified a series of errors and omissions in surveillance applications targeting a former Trump campaign associate.
The Associated Press’ report comes after CBS News Investigative Reporter Catherine Herridge noted back in October that Durham would not have a final report out about his findings before the presidential election because the investigation had “expanded in recent weeks” and had moved “well beyond origins of FBI Russia probe.”
Herridge, who is widely seen as one of the top non-partisan reporters in the nation, doubled down on her reporting on Tuesday afternoon, contradicting the AP’s report. Herridge tweeted out a letter from Barr to the House and Senate Judiciary Committees where Barr said that Durham did uncover “additional information.”
“Although I had expected Mr. Durham to complete his work by the summer of 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as additional information he uncovered, prevented him from doing so,” Barr wrote. “In advance of the presidential election, I decided to appoint Mr. Durham as a Special Counsel to provide him and his team with the assurance that they could complete their work, without regard to the outcome of the election.”
“Special Counsel Durham scope is broad + encompasses recently declassified docs,” Herridge added. “This may set up interesting dynamic with nexus to then VP Biden. Declassified records include unmasking @GenFlynn + Jan 2017 WH meeting where, according to notes, ‘VP’ raised Logan Act.”
#Durham Special Counsel Durham scope is broad + encompasses recently declassified docs. This may set up interesting dynamic with nexus to then VP Biden. Declassified records include unmasking @GenFlynn + Jan 2017 WH meeting where, according to notes, "VP" raised Logan Act. pic.twitter.com/U59SPX9oFX
— Catherine Herridge (@CBS_Herridge) December 1, 2020