Conflict and Security Politics and Government

Attorney General’s Investigation into Intelligence Misconduct, Russia Investigation Now a Criminal Probe

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U.S. Attorney John Durham’s ongoing probe into potential FBI and Justice Department misconduct in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election is now a full-fledged criminal probe.

One source told Fox News that DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz’s upcoming report on alleged FBI surveillance abuses against the Trump campaign would shed light on why Durham’s probe has become a criminal inquiry.

Provided the potential evidence, and the weight of what’s taken place; turning the investigation into a criminal probe, allows for Durham to subpoena witnesses, file charges, and impanel fact-finding grand juries.

The investigation expanded substantially after new evidence had surfaced, which Durham uncovered during a recent trip to Rome with the Attorney General William Barr.

Barr reportedly spoke with US embassy officials in Italy and stated that he “needed a conference room to meet high-level Italian security agents where he could be sure that no one was listening in.”

A source in the Italian Ministry of Justice told The Daily Beast earlier this month that Barr and Durham were played a taped deposition made by Joseph Mifsud, the professor who allegedly told ex-Trump aide George Papadopoulos that the Russians had “dirt” on Hillary Clinton. Mifsud reportedly was explaining to investigators in the deposition why people would want to harm him, and why he needed police protection.

Papadopoulos has suggested he was connected with Mifsud as part of a setup orchestrated by intelligence agencies.

Sources told Fox News that Durham was “very interested” to question former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and former CIA Director John Brennan, an anti-Trump critic who recently dismissed the idea. The New York Times reported Thursday that Durham’s criminal review had prompted some CIA officials to obtain criminal legal counsel in anticipation of being interviewed.

Former intelligence officials of the CIA and FBI, such as Brennan and Clapper, were at the head, not only when Mifsud spoke with Papadopoulos, but also when the unverified and widely discredited dossier, written by former Brittish spy Christopher Steele and funded by the Hillary Clinton campaign, the Democratic National Committee, and a Republican Media firm, was used to help justify a secret surveillance warrant against former Trump adviser Carter Page.

Leading up to the dossier, the FBI reached a deal in October 2016 to pay Steele to continue the research that had led to what became known as the Trump dossier, an indication of how seriously the bureau was taking the allegations, according to a person familiar with the matter.

The FBI would later reveal payments to Steele, as they considered him a Confidential Human Source. The records also show that Steele told the FBI that he had informed a third party that he was acting as a CHS for the bureau and that the FBI had determined Steele was the source for an online article.

On Nov. 1, 2016, according to the documents, the FBI told Steele it was unlikely to continue working with him, and he should not “obtain any intelligence whatsoever on behalf of the FBI.” The records also indicate that in February 2016, the FBI “admonished” Steele. A federal law enforcement official explains that admonishment is typically given when a person begins a stint as a confidential informant and annually thereafter. It is a briefing on the rules of being an informant to ensure the source complies with guidelines set by the Attorney General, and usually not a criticism of the source.

While the FBI was paying Steele, the Clinton Campaign, a Republican Media Firm, and the Democratic National Convention were also paying Fusion GPS for dirt on Trump. Further, in the original FISA application and subsequent renewals, the FBI told the FISA court it “did not believe” that Steele was the direct source for a Yahoo News Article implicating Page in Russian collusion. Instead, the FBI suggested to the Secret Court, the September 2016 article by Michael Isikoff was independent corroboration of the dossier. But, London court records showed that contrary to the FBI’s assessments, Steele briefed Yahoo News and other reporters in the fall of 2016 at the direction of Fusion GPS.

In response to the Criminal Probe, High-Level Democrats are claiming that William Barr and the office of the Attorney General have lost their independence; “These reports, if true, raise profound new concerns that the Department of Justice under Attorney General William Barr has lost its independence and become a vehicle for President Trump’s political revenge,” they said. “If the Department of Justice may be used as a tool of political retribution, or to help the President with a political narrative for the next election, the rule of law will suffer new and irreparable damage.”

However, the evidence and the probe point to the possibility that several former intelligence officials may be implicated in wrongdoings; further, the Former Director of National Intelligence stated that it was Obama who ordered the probe into President Trump.