Attorney General William Barr told Fox News in an interview on Oct. 28 that U.S. Attorney for Connecticut John Durham, who is in charge of the investigation into the Trump-Russia probe, has made “great progress.”
Recently the Justice Department’s internal review of spying on the Trump campaign has evolved into a criminal investigation, according to anonymous sources who spoke to the Associated Press and The New York Times.
The designation as a formal criminal investigation gives Durham’s team the ability to issue subpoenas, impanel a grand jury, compel witnesses to give testimony, and bring federal criminal charges.
It is not known what potential crimes are being investigated and when the inquiry turned into a criminal one.
After the news broke House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) and House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) said in a joint statement on Twitter, “These reports, if true, raise profound new concerns that the Department of Justice under AG Barr has lost its independence and become a vehicle for President Trump’s political revenge.”
Barr said in response to these accusations that they are false, and the investigation is conducted by Durham, not by him. “I act on behalf of the United States,” Barr said in the interview with Fox News.”
Barr also talked in this interview about his and Durham’s recent visit to Italy. He said the tour had assisted Durham in establishing contacts and channels of communication with countries that, according to Durham, could provide some information related to Durham’s investigation.
Durham, a 69-year old Republican was appointed by Barr on May 13 to review the origins of the Obama administration’s counterintelligence investigation of the Trump campaign. Before, Durham served in various positions in Connecticut, prosecuting crimes, corruption, and financial fraud during his 35 years tenure with the Department.
He enjoyed a reputation as an independent investigator who would not be influenced by any partisan interests. His former boss, Stan Twardy told Law.com that Durham “will not be influenced by Barr. If the president or the attorney general try to direct him in a way they wanted, rather than in a way the facts would lead John, he’d step away from the case.”
“[Durham] was selected by two Democratic Attorney Generals to do sensitive investigations for them,” said Barr in the interview with Fox News.
Barr also praised FBI Director Christopher Wray for his cooperation with Durham’s investigation. He criticized FBI leadership in 2016 and the beginning of 2017 and said, “Since Director Wray and his team have taken over, there’s been a world of change. I think that he is restoring the steady professionalism that’s been a hallmark of the FBI.”