Trump Says He Was ‘Not Involved’ in DOJ’s Criminal Investigation Into Origins of Russia Probe

By Janita Kan
Janita Kan
Janita Kan
Janita Kan is a reporter based in New York covering the Justice Department, courts, and First Amendment.
October 26, 2019 Updated: October 27, 2019

President Donald Trump said he was not involved in the Justice Department’s decision to expand their review of the surveillance of the Trump campaign into a criminal investigation.

News of the department’s decision to open a criminal probe into the origins of the Obama administration’s counterintelligence investigation of the Trump campaign was first reported by the New York Times and the Associated Press on Thursday. U.S. Attorney John Durham had been reviewing the FBI’s counterintelligence investigation since May this year.

Trump, who has been an outspoken critic of the intelligence community’s decision to investigate his campaign for ties with Russia in 2016, told “America This Week” that Durham’s decision to open the investigation was “not his mandate.”

“I’m not involved in it from the standpoint of it’s not my mandate,” Trump said. “But it’s obviously Bill Barr’s mandate. He’s a great attorney general and a lot of terrible things, I would say, happened and they’re going to find out.”

Trump said that he thinks Durham will “find a lot” in his criminal probe that would support the president’s previous claims that the previous administration was targeting him during the last presidential election.

He also refused to comment on the speculation that former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and former CIA Director John Brennan could be called as witnesses to testify in investigation, but said he thought that they were “very bad people” and “very bad for the country.”

“We’ll see what they find, whatever they find they find. There were a lot of others too. You look at [former FBI Deputy Director Andrew] McCabe, you look at [former FBI Director James] Comey,” Trump said, adding that “it probably went all the way to the top.”

On Friday, when taking a question from a reporter at the White House, Trump said he believes people are going to see “a lot of really bad things” eventuate from the investigation.

“I can’t tell you what’s happening but I can tell you this: I think you’re going to see a lot of really bad things, a lot of people think that and they know they have problems because they were very dishonest. I leave it all up to the attorney general and I leave it all up to the people working with the attorney general who I don’t know,” Trump said.

There are currently no details as to what potential crimes are being investigated and when the inquiry turned into a criminal one. As a formal criminal investigation, Durham’s team is afforded the ability to issue subpoenas, impanel a grand jury, compel witnesses to give testimony, and bring federal criminal charges.

The FBI’s counterintelligence investigation of the Trump campaign was launched in late July 2016 and eventually evolved into the former special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russia collusion. Mueller’s probe, which ended earlier this year, found that there was no collusion between the Trump campaign and his associates with Russia to influence the 2016 elections.

Along with Durham’s investigation, DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz has been investigating the FBI’s use of Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrants since March last year to surveil former Trump campaign associate Carter Page. The bureau obtained its first warrant in October 2016, alleging that Page was an agent of Russia, something that he denied.

The application of the warrant, which was signed off by Comey and McCabe, relied on information from a so-called Steele dossier, compiled by former British spy Christopher Steele, that was ultimately been proven to be not credible. Moreover, in the warrant application, officials neglected to disclose that the dossier was funded by Trump’s political opponent in the 2016 election, the Clinton campaign, and the Democratic National Committee.

Ivan Pentchoukov contributed to this report.

Janita Kan
Janita Kan is a reporter based in New York covering the Justice Department, courts, and First Amendment.