AG Barr Appoints John Durham As Special Counsel To Investigate Origins Of Russia Probe

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Attorney General William Barr has reportedly given extra protection to U.S. Attorney John Durham, the prosecutor he appointed to investigate the origins of the Trump-Russia probe, giving Durham the authority of a special counsel to complete his work without the risk of easily being fired.

Barr told The Associated Press on Tuesday that he had appointed U.S. Attorney John Durham as a special counsel in October under the same federal statute that governed special counsel Robert Mueller in the original Russia probe. He said Durham’s investigation has been narrowing to focus more on the conduct of FBI agents who worked on the Russia investigation, known as Crossfire Hurricane, as first reported by AP.

Attorney General William Barr told the AP on Tuesday, “I decided the best thing to do would be to appoint them under the same regulation that covered Bob Muller, to provide Durham and his team some assurance that they’d be able to complete their work regardless of the outcome of the election.”

The current investigation, a criminal probe, had begun very broadly but has since “narrowed considerably” and now “really is focused on the activities of the crossfire hurricane investigation within the FBI,” Barr said. He said he expects Durham would detail whether any additional prosecutions will be brought and make public a report of the investigation’s findings.

In a scope order, Barr stated that Durham as special counsel “is authorized to investigate whether any federal official, employee, or any other person or entity violated the law in connection with the intelligence, counter-intelligence, or law-enforcement activities directed at the 2016 presidential campaigns, individuals associated with those campaigns, and individuals associated with the administration of President Donald J. Trump, including but not limited to Crossfire Hurricane and the investigation of Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller, III.”

Last year, Durham’s investigation shifted to a criminal probe. The investigation has produced one criminal charge so far, against former FBI lawyer Kevin Clinesmith, who was accused of altering an email related to the surveillance of a former Trump campaign aide. Continued Below

In October, Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe said he believed there “will be” and “should be” more indictments coming from Durham’s probe, based on “intelligence” he has access to.

“I think there will be more indictments,” Ratcliffe said in October. “Based on the intelligence I have access to, I certainly believe there should be.”

Ratcliffe also said that he has already provided 1,000 pages of material to the Justice Department to support Durham’s investigation. Continued Below

CBS News’ Senior Investigative Correspondent, Catherine Herridge, tweeted the scope order:

(Related: DNI Ratcliffe Declassifies Handwritten Notes From Brennan; CIA Memo Of Hillary Clinton ‘Stirring Up’ Scandal)