Attorney General William Barr has ordered an investigation into the source of the information that sparked the Russia investigation.
The investigation will review whether the information regarding the Trump campaign and the government’s means of obtaining that information was “lawful and appropriate,” the Associated Press reported Tuesday.
U.S. Attorney John Durham from Connecticut has been appointed to head the probe. He is a top prosecutor in Connecticut and was unanimously confirmed by the U.S. Senate last year. He was praised by two Democratic senators from Connecticut, Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy, who referred to Durham as a “fierce, fair prosecutor” and one who takes on difficult cases.
Durham has reportedly been working on the review “for weeks,” a source close to the matter told Fox News.
AG William Barr has assigned John Durham, the U.S. attorney in Connecticut, to examine the origins of the investigation into Russia’s election interference and alleged ties between the Trump campaign and Moscow https://t.co/R0lgQrRhTV pic.twitter.com/i2X7OPSukz
— The Hill (@thehill) May 14, 2019
Durham’s probe is separate from the Department of Justice inspector general investigation that is also exploring the origins of the Trump-Russia investigation.
The inspector general report is expected to be completed in May or June.
The probes are spurred by Barr’s assertion that the government spied on the Trump campaign during 2016, a claim that Trump himself and others have made.
During a Senate Appropriations subcommittee hearing last month, Barr said, “I am reviewing the conduct of the investigation and trying to get my arms around all the aspects of the counterintelligence investigation that was conducted during the summer of 2016.”
“I think spying did occur,” he noted. “But the question is whether it was predicated, adequately predicated, and I’m not suggesting it wasn’t adequately predicated. But I’d need to explore that.”
During the 2016 investigation, the FBI and DOJ obtained a FISA court warrant to surveil Trump advisor Carter Page. The action was reportedly launched by the infamous dossier written by former British spy Christopher Steele, which contained salacious accusations against President Trump and the Russians, along with details of Page’s trip to Moscow.
However, Steele was contracted by opposition research firm Fusion GPS, hired by a Hillary Clinton campaign lawyer, and the document contained nothing more than third party hearsay.
By basing an investigation off the politically-orchestrated dossier, the FBI and DOJ violated their own rules that prohibit using unverified information in a FISA court, the National Review reported. Further, the DOJ failed to inform the FISA court that the Clinton campaign was responsible for the dossier, and that Steele lied to the FBI, resulting in his termination from the investigation.
“Many people seem to assume that the only intelligence collection that occurred was a single confidential informant,” Barr said. “I would like to find out whether that is in fact true. It strikes me as a fairly anemic effort if that was the counterintelligence effort designed to stop the threat as it’s being represented.”