GOP pleased with in­ves­ti­ga­tor for Trump probe

Durham is widely re­spected in both par­ties, gets broad power

The Washington Times Daily - - FRONT PAGE - BY JEFF MORDOCK

Repub­li­cans cheered the news that the Jus­tice Depart­ment has named a new in­ves­ti­ga­tor to probe the ori­gins of the FBI’s anti-Trump in­ves­ti­ga­tions in 2016, even as the scope ex­pands to in­clude in­tel­li­gence agen­cies.

At­tor­ney Gen­eral Wil­liam Barr, who on Mon­day re­vealed that he had named Con­necti­cut U.S. At­tor­ney John Durham to probe the premise of the Trump in­ves­ti­ga­tions, has also roped in CIA Di­rec­tor Gina Haspel and Di­rec­tor of Na­tional In­tel­li­gence Daniel Coats to help with in­quiries of their de­part­ments, The As­so­ci­ated Press re­ported.

“We wanted this a long time ago,” Rep. Jim Jor­dan, Ohio Repub­li­can, told The Wash­ing­ton Times. “I have been so im­pressed with the at­tor­ney gen­eral and his com­mit­ment to put­ting a team to­gether and get­ting to the bot­tom of this.”

The ex­act out­lines of Mr. Durham’s in­ves­ti­ga­tion re­main un­clear, and it’s not im­me­di­ately ap­par­ent what it means for John Hu­ber, the U.S. at­tor­ney in Utah whom then-At­tor­ney Gen­eral Jeff Ses­sions named in 2017 to look at some of the same ground.

Mr. Jor­dan used a base­ball anal­ogy to de­scribe the sit­u­a­tion. “Some­times the man­ager has to make a trip to the mound and make a change,” he said. ‘We haven’t heard any­thing from John Hu­ber.”

In­deed, it was Repub­li­cans’ frus­tra­tion with Mr. Hu­ber’s lack of pub­lic progress that fu­eled calls for a spe­cial coun­sel to get to the bot­tom of the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion’s ef­forts to snare the Trump cam­paign.

Mr. Barr, rather than name a spe­cial coun­sel, told law­mak­ers he will over­see the re­view him­self, and now he has a point man to gather the in­for­ma­tion.

Mr. Durham’s probe will be the third ex­am­in­ing the ac­tions of the FBI and Jus­tice Depart­ment re­lated to the 2016 probe. Jus­tice Depart­ment In­spec­tor Gen­eral Michael Horowitz has com­menced an in­ves­ti­ga­tion and is ex­pected to re­lease a re­port this month or next.

As a U.S. at­tor­ney, Mr. Durham can ex­tend his in­ves­ti­ga­tion be­yond the lim­its of the in­spec­tor gen­eral, whose power is con­strained to only cur­rent govern­ment em­ploy­ees.

Pres­i­dent Trump, while deny­ing he had a hand in the move, said he was glad to hear it.

“I am so proud of our at­tor­ney gen­eral, that he is look­ing into it,” the pres­i­dent told re­porters. “I think it’s great.”

The pres­i­dent was among those ag­i­tat­ing for a look at how the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion treated him dur­ing the cam­paign. His calls grew stronger af­ter spe­cial coun­sel Robert Mueller con­cluded his in­ves­ti­ga­tion re­veal­ing there was no ev­i­dence of con­spir­acy be­tween his cam­paign and Rus­sia to sub­vert the elec­tion — the charge that the FBI had been pur­su­ing.

Mr. Durham brings a ster­ling rep­u­ta­tion to his task.

He also has had bi­par­ti­san back­ing in the past, in­clud­ing his 2017 nom­i­na­tion to serve as U.S. at­tor­ney in Con­necti­cut,

where the state’s two Democratic sen­a­tors rec­om­mended him and praised him as a “fierce and fair pros­e­cu­tor.”

He led nu­mer­ous govern­ment cor­rup­tion probes for at­tor­neys gen­eral from both par­ties, in­clud­ing ex­pos­ing FBI agents who had been turned by mob­ster James “Whitey” Bul­ger. The Bush and Obama ad­min­is­tra­tions, mean­while, asked him to lead in­ves­ti­ga­tions into mat­ters deal­ing with CIA in­ter­ro­ga­tion of ter­ror­ism sus­pects.

Mr. Durham has al­ready qui­etly been work­ing for months on a re­lated in­quiry into po­lit­i­cally mo­ti­vated leaks, and

the Hart­ford Courant re­ported that he has built a team of in­ves­ti­ga­tors, giv­ing him a head start on the probe into 2016 de­ci­sion-mak­ing by the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion.

Repub­li­cans say they see plenty of fishy ac­tiv­ity to in­ves­ti­gate, in­clud­ing the FBI’s de­ploy­ment of in­for­mants to try to get close to the cam­paign and us­ing a now-dis­cred­ited Democratic op­po­si­tion re­search doc­u­ment, the Christo­pher Steele dossier, to help jus­tify a se­cret sur­veil­lance war­rant on a Trump cam­paign ad­viser.

Mr. Barr has called those ac­tiv­i­ties

spy­ing — though he says it re­mains to be seen whether the spy­ing was jus­ti­fied.

Sen­ate Ju­di­ciary Committee Chair­man Lind­sey Graham, a South Carolina Repub­li­can who had been ag­i­tat­ing for a spe­cial coun­sel and promised to open his own in­ves­ti­ga­tion, said he would step back and let Mr. Durham go at it.

“We fi­nally have some­body out­side of pol­i­tics,” he said. “I don’t want to get in their way, I don’t want to mess up his crim­i­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tion and I don’t want to put peo­ple at risk, so I’m go­ing to back off.”

One Demo­crat called the probe “a to­tal dis­trac­tion, say­ing the FBI was cor­rectly in­ves­ti­gat­ing whether Rus­sia was in­ter­fer­ing with the 2016 elec­tion. Mr. Mueller un­cov­ered plenty of ev­i­dence that Rus­sia sought to ma­nip­u­late the elec­tion, ac­cord­ing this 448-page re­port.

“The in­ves­ti­ga­tion had noth­ing to do with the [Steele] dossier. It frankly had noth­ing to do with the Trump cam­paign. It was on ac­tion­able in­tel­li­gence from for­eign am­bas­sadors con­cerned that our democ­racy was un­der threat,” Rep. Ro Khanna, Cal­i­for­nia Demo­crat, told CNN.

Solomon Wisen­berg, who was a deputy on Ken­neth W. Starr’s White­wa­ter in­ves­ti­ga­tion, said Mr. Durham’s back­ground demon­strates the im­por­tance Mr. Barr is plac­ing on this in­quiry.

“It shows me that Barr is re­ally se­ri­ous,” he said.

As a U.S. at­tor­ney, Mr. Durham will have ac­cess to sub­poena pow­ers and a grand jury, just as a spe­cial coun­sel would.

But those were the same sell­ing points Mr. Ses­sions’ team used last year to jus­tify put­ting Mr. Hu­ber on the case.

The two in­ves­ti­ga­tions ap­pear sim­i­lar on the sur­face. Mr. Hu­ber was to re­view some of the early stages of the Rus­sia probe, in­clud­ing a sur­veil­lance war­rant that the FBI ob­tained to watch Trump cam­paign fig­ure Carter Page.

“It seems to me it is hard to sep­a­rate the two of them,” Mr. Wisen­berg said.

Mr. Durham’s in­ves­ti­ga­tion does ap­pear to be more ex­pan­sive on one front, with the re­view ex­tend­ing be­yond the FBI and Jus­tice Depart­ment to in­clude in­tel­li­gence ac­tiv­i­ties.


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