AG Barr Opens a Second Investigation of Russia Probe, Source Says - NBC 6 South Florida
President Donald Trump

President Donald Trump

The latest news on President Donald Trump's presidency

AG Barr Opens a Second Investigation of Russia Probe, Source Says

Congressional Republicans have also indicated they intend to examine how the investigation that shadowed Trump's presidency for nearly two years began

    processing...

    NEWSLETTERS

    AG Barr Opens a Second Investigation of Russia Probe, Source Says
    Andrew Harnik/AP, File
    In this May 1, 2019, file photo, Attorney General William Barr appears at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington.

    Attorney General William Barr is stepping up the probe into the origins of the Russia investigation, naming a U.S. attorney to oversee the investigation and working with intelligence chiefs to see how surveillance was conducted.

    Barr tapped John Durham, the U.S. attorney in Connecticut, to lead the inquiry, but remains directly involved in the probe, which he initiated about three weeks ago, according to a person familiar with the matter. The person could not discuss the matter publicly and spoke Tuesday to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity.

    The investigation is examining intelligence and surveillance used during the Russia investigation that shadowed Donald Trump's presidency for nearly two years. Barr is working with CIA Director Gina Haspel, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats and FBI Director Christopher Wray as part of the probe.

    With Durham's appointment, Barr is addressing a rallying cry of Trump and his supporters, who have accused the Justice Department and FBI of unlawfully spying on his campaign.

    AG Barr: ‘I Think Spying Did Occur’ on 2016 Trump Campaign

    [NATL] AG Barr: ‘I Think Spying Did Occur’ on 2016 Trump Campaign

    Attorney General William Barr was asked why he has a team looking into why the FBI opened an investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. He said he thought that “spying did occur” on the Trump campaign. “The question was whether it was adequately predicated,” he said.

    (Published Wednesday, April 10, 2019)

    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.

    As he left the White House Tuesday for a trip to Louisiana, Trump referred to Mueller's investigation as a "hoax" — as he has frequently done in the past — and said he didn't ask Barr to open the inquiry and didn't know about it in advance.

    "But I think it's a great thing that he did it," Trump said. "I am so proud of our attorney general that he is looking into it. I think it's great."

    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.

    FBI Director Declines to Call Trump Campaign Surveillance Spying

    [NATL] FBI Director Declines to Call Trump Campaign Surveillance Spying

    FBI Director Christopher Wray tells a Senate Appropriations subcommittee that he wouldn’t join Attorney General William Barr in calling the FBI’s surveillance on the 2016 Trump campaign “spying.”

    (Published Tuesday, May 7, 2019)

    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.

    Both the inspector general's investigation and the probe being conducted by Huber are winding down, the person familiar with the inquiries said.

    Congressional Republicans have also indicated they intend to examine how the investigation that has shadowed Trump's presidency 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.

    Mattis Responds to Trump With Bones Spurs Burn

    [NATL] Mattis Responds to Trump With Bones Spurs Burn

    Former Secretary of Defense James Mattis took the stage at the annual Alfred E. Smith dinner in New York City to crack-wise after President Donald Trump called him an "overrated general".

    (Published Friday, Oct. 18, 2019)

    Durham was unanimously confirmed by the Senate in 2018. At the time, Connecticut's two Democratic senators, Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy, called Durham a "fierce, fair prosecutor" who knows how to try tough cases.

    In addition to conducting the inquiry, Durham will continue to serve as the chief federal prosecutor in Connecticut.

    ___

    Associated Press writer Catherine Lucey contributed to this report.