This would appear to be one of the few positive indicators that AG Bill Barr and U.S. Attorney John Durham are indeed doing more than bondo. The New York Times is reporting the Durham “review” has now officially moved into a full “criminal investigation”. [All emphasis mine]
WASHINGTON — For more than two years, President Trump has repeatedly attacked the Russia investigation, portraying it as a hoax and illegal even months after the special counsel closed it. Now, Mr. Trump’s own Justice Department has opened a criminal investigation into how it all began.
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.
My initial question was/is: does this mean the *interviews* with John Brennan and James Clapper were predicated on a shift into a criminal investigation? If yes, is that reality the baseline for the New York Times changing the reporting?
[…] The move also creates an unusual situation in which the Justice Department is conducting a criminal investigation into itself.
Mr. Barr’s reliance on Mr. Durham, a widely respected and veteran prosecutor who has investigated C.I.A. torture and broken up Mafia rings, could help insulate the attorney general from accusations that he is doing the president’s bidding and putting politics above justice.
It was not clear what potential crime Mr. Durham is investigating, nor when the criminal investigation was prompted. A Justice Department spokeswoman declined to comment.
[…] Federal investigators need only a “reasonable indication” that a crime has been committed to open an investigation, a much lower standard than the probable cause required to obtain search warrants. However, “there must be an objective, factual basis for initiating the investigation; a mere hunch is insufficient,” according to Justice Department guidelines.
When Mr. Barr appointed Mr. Durham, the United States attorney in Connecticut, to lead the review, he had only the power to voluntarily question people and examine government files.
[…] Mr. Barr began the administrative review of the Russia investigation in May, saying that he had conversations with intelligence and law enforcement officials that led him to believe that the F.B.I. acted improperly, if not unlawfully.
The F.B.I. opened the investigation in late July 2016, code-named Crossfire Hurricane, after receiving information from the Australian government that a Trump campaign adviser had been approached with an offer of stolen emails that could damage Hillary Clinton’s campaign.
F.B.I. agents discovered the offer shortly after stolen Democratic emails were released, and the events, along with ties between other Trump advisers and Russia, set off fears that the Trump campaign was conspiring with Russia’s interference.
FBI agents “discovered the offer“? Interesting use of words within the article by an outlet who sells the position of the DOJ and FBI. The “offer” was from Joseph Mifsud, who we know is not a Russian intelligence operative, but rather now appears to be a western intelligence operative under the guiding control of the CIA. The “discovery” part was the report of that activity by Australian diplomat Alexander Downer.
So what the New York Times is outlining here, is the CIA ran an operation using Mifsud to place information into Papadopoulos, a classic set-up, and the FBI is now claiming they had no idea the CIA was the originating intelligence apparatus for that information. Very interesting…. aligns with the FBI defensive framework from last week.
[…] The F.B.I. did not use information from the C.I.A. in opening the Russia investigation, former American officials said. But agents’ views on Russia’s election interference operation crystallized by mid-August, after the C.I.A. director at the time, John O. Brennan, shared intelligence with Mr. Comey about it.
Well the claim: “The F.B.I. did not use information from the C.I.A. in opening the Russia investigation” is demonstrably false. The CIA produced an “electronic communication” (EC) to the FBI which officially launched the premise of operation “crossfire hurricane’. That EC has never been released, though it has been seen by congressional investigators. So whoever this “former American official” is, is lying.
[…] The C.I.A. did contribute heavily to the intelligence community’s assessment in early 2017 that Russia interfered in the 2016 election and tried to tip it in Mr. Trump’s favor, and law enforcement officials later used those findings to bolster their application for a wiretap on a Trump campaign adviser, Carter Page.
As we have researched and outlined the CIA was the driving force behind the January 2017 Intelligence Community Assessment (ICA) and Peter Strzok was one of the primary authors. Additionally, how could the January 2017 ICA be used to bolster the application for the Carter Page FISA, when the FISA warrant was granted on October 21st, 2016? Perhaps the New York Times is intentionally trying to conflate the ‘second renewal”?
Mr. Barr is closely managing the Durham investigation, even traveling to Italy to seek help from officials there to run down an unfounded conspiracy that is at the heart of conservatives’ attacks on the Russia investigation — that the Italian government helped set up the Trump campaign adviser who was told in 2016 that the Russians had damaging information that could hurt Clinton’s campaign.
But Italy’s intelligence services told Mr. Barr that they played no such role in the events leading to the Russia investigation, Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte of Italy said in a news conference on Wednesday. Mr. Barr has also contacted government officials in Britain and Australia about their roles in the early stages of the Russia investigation.
So the Italian intelligence apparatus played no “official” role; which again would bolster the likelihood the CIA was the driving entity behind Joseph Mifsud.
[…] Mr. Durham has also asked whether C.I.A. officials might have somehow tricked the F.B.I. into opening the Russia investigation.
Mr. Durham has indicated he wants to interview former officials who ran the C.I.A. in 2016 but has yet to question either Mr. Brennan or James R. Clapper Jr., the former director of national intelligence.
The “tricked” by the CIA angle is a position seemingly outlined in many of the media defense articles on behalf of the FBI.
[…] Some C.I.A. officials have retained criminal lawyers in anticipation of being interviewed. It was not clear whether Mr. Durham was scrutinizing other former top intelligence officials. Adm. Michael S. Rogers, the former director of the National Security Agency, declined to say whether he had spoken with Mr. Durham’s investigators.
Mr. Durham also has yet to question many of the former F.B.I. officials involved in opening the Russia investigation.
I’d put that response from Admiral Mike Rogers in the affirmative side of the ledger; and again it’s good news the “small group” has yet to be interviewed.
[…] 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.
Though the inspector general’s report deals with sensitive information, Mr. Horowitz anticipates that little of it will be blacked out when he releases the document publicly, he wrote in a letter sent to lawmakers on Thursday and obtained by The New York Times. (read full article)