Barr names Connecticut prosecutor to investigate Russia probe’s origins

By Justin Wise
The Hill
Attorney General William Barr has reportedly assigned a federal prosecutor in Connecticut to examine the origins of the investigation into Russia’s election interference and alleged ties between the Trump campaign and Moscow.
The New York Times, citing two people familiar with the matter, reported on Monday night that John H. Durham, the U.S. attorney in Connecticut, had been tapped by Barr to look into the probe’s inception. The newspaper reported the inquiry is the third publicly known investigation focused on the FBI’s counterintelligence probe of the Trump campaign.
Department of Justice (DOJ) Inspector General Michael E. Horowitz is reviewing how investigators used wiretap applications and informants as well as whether political bias motivated decision making.
John W. Huber, the U.S. attorney in Utah, is also examining aspects of the investigation.
A spokesman for Durham’s office and the DOJ declined a request for comment from the Times. The DOJ did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Hill.
Durham was nominated by Trump in 2017 and has served as a lawyer within the Justice Department for nearly 40 years, according to the Times. He has a history of performing special investigations.
Former Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey assigned Durham to conduct a probe of the CIA in 2008 over the agency destroying videotapes that showed terrorism suspects being tortured.
Bloomberg News reported in April that Barr had formed a team to review the actions of the Justice Department and FBI leading up to the Russia investigation. He told Congress around that time that he was “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.”
He also testified before a Senate Appropriations subcommittee that he believed “spying” took place.
“The question is whether it was adequately predicated and I’m not suggesting it wasn’t adequately predicated, but I need to explore
that,” he said.
FBI Director Christopher Wray said last week that he wouldn’t use “spying” to describe lawful investigative activities taken up by the
FBI. Durham’s new assignment comes just weeks after the Justice Department released special counsel Robert Mueller’s report, which detailed the findings of his 22-month investigation into President Trump.
Mueller’s investigation did not uncover evidence to conclude that a  conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Moscow took place. But the report noted that Mueller could not come to a conclusive determination with regard to whether the president obstructed justice.

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