U.S. Attorney John Durham, tapped by Attorney General Bill Barr to probe the origins of the Russia collusion investigation, has found documents leading him to a new area of focus — namely, on events occurring from the time President Donald Trump first took office and before the appointment of Special Counsel Robert Mueller, the Washington Examiner reports.
CBS investigative reporter Catherine Herridge revealed that Durham is giving increased attention to the period between January and May of 2017 and that he has found a “strong paper trail” prompting him to take a closer look at the time frame.
Durham appears to be looking into potential misconduct by federal law enforcement and intelligence officials who were investigating Trump during that time. His probe became a criminal one in October, giving him subpoena power and the authority to issue indictments.
Quite a bit is already known about the conduct of the broader Intelligence Community during that time due to Inspector General Michael Horowitz’s recent report on errors and abuse in the FISA (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act) warrant process, which allowed FBI agents to conduct surveillance on Trump during his campaign and early presidency.
Durham disagreed when Horowitz’s report appeared to say that there was no political bias involved in the FISA warrant applications used to spy on Trump campaign aide Carter Page, The Washington Times reported.
But it should be noted that Horowitz did not in fact conclude that there wasn’t any bias — he just did not find concrete, documentary evidence of such, and the relatively limited scope of his investigation did not afford him access to a host of potential sources.
Conversely, Durham has the freedom to investigate much more deeply, and he may have no problem identifying the kind of political animus at the heart of the Russia probe that Horowitz couldn’t. Durham’s vocal dissent from Horowitz’s public statements on the matter suggests to many that he has done so already.
AG Barr has been closely involved in the investigation, traveling abroad with Durham as part of the probe. Former CIA Director John Brennan, former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, former FBI special agent Peter Strzok, and British ex-spy Christopher Steele have all attracted specific scrutiny as part of Durham’s work.
Report still months away
A report from Durham about the results of his investigation could shed a lot of light on whether Robert Mueller’s probe should ever have happened in the first place. If it becomes clear that Trump was hounded for more than two years without any legitimate or lawful reason, there could be a great deal of anger directed at Democrats during the 2020 election season.
It’s possible that the American voting public will see such a report as a repudiation of all of the Trump investigations that have happened during his first term, including the impeachment farce. If the Democrats were out to get him during the entire Mueller investigation, who is to say that impeachment wasn’t just Phase Two of their political witch hunt?
It is not known precisely when the Durham report will be forthcoming or whether it will be released in time to influence the 2020 presidential and congressional elections. So far, Durham has come across as a truly non-partisan actor, and he isn’t likely to be overly concerned about the timing of his report.
Barr has suggested that Durham’s report is still “many months” away, but it seems safe to say that Democrats have good reason to dread its emergence and should be very afraid of what it will reveal.