According to the New York Times– Justice Department officials have shifted an administrative review of the Russia investigation closely overseen by Attorney General William P. Barr to a criminal inquiry, according to two people familiar with the matter. The move gives the prosecutor running it, John H. Durham, the power to subpoena for witness testimony and documents, to impanel a grand jury and to file criminal charges.
Former DOJ official John Woo appeared on Fox News to explain:
As Mr. Durham’s investigation moves forward, the Justice Department inspector general is wrapping up his own inquiry into aspects of the F.B.I.’s conduct in the early days of the Russia investigation. Among other things, the inspector general, Michael E. Horowitz, is scrutinizing the application for a warrant to wiretap Mr. Page.
Mr. Barr has not said whether Mr. Durham’s investigation grew out of the inspector general’s findings or something that prosecutors unearthed while doing interviews or reviewing documents. But the inspector general’s findings, which are expected to be made public in coming weeks, could contribute to the public’s understanding of why Mr. Durham might want to investigate national security officials’ activities in 2016.
Barr reportedly told embassy officials in Italy that he “needed a conference room to meet high-level Italian security agents where he could be sure no one was listening in.”
A source in the Italian Ministry of Justice told The Daily Beast earlier this month that Barr and Durham were played a taped deposition made by Joseph Mifsud, the professor who allegedly told ex-Trump aide George Papadopoulos that the Russians had “dirt” on Hillary Clinton. Mifsud reportedly was explaining to investigators in the deposition why people would want to harm him, and why he needed police protection.
Papadopoulos has suggested he was connected with Mifsud as part of a setup orchestrated by intelligence agencies.
Sources told Fox News that 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. The New York Times reported Thursday that Durham’s criminal review has prompted some CIA officials to obtain criminal legal counsel in anticipation of being interviewed.
Brennan and Clapper were at the helm not only when Mifsud spoke to Papadopoulos, but also when the unverified and largely discredited dossier, written by British ex-spy Christopher Steele and funded by the Hillary Clinton campaign and Democratic National Committee, was used to help justify a secret surveillance warrant against former Trump adviser Carter Page in the run-up to the 2016 election.
The FBI apparently obscured the fact that the Clinton campaign and DNC funded the dossier in its warrant application, telling the secret court only that the dossier was prepared at the behest of an unidentified presidential campaign.