John Durham escalates his FBI probe into a new criminal investigation

Durham and Clapper

U.S. Attorney John Durham’s ongoing investigation into potential FBI and Justice Department misconduct leading towards the 2016 election has transitioned into a full-fledged criminal investigation. This comes from two sources familiar with the investigation who spoke to Fox News on Thursday night.

One source said that DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz’s upcoming report on alleged FBI surveillance abuses against the Trump campaign will focus on why Durham’s probe has become a criminal inquiry. Horowitz announced on Thursday his report would be available to the public soon, with “few” redactions.

The investigation’s new criminal status indicates that Durham can subpoena witnesses, file charges, and impanel fact-finding grand juries.

Fox News reported on Tuesday that Durham’s probe had expanded significantly based on new evidence uncovered during a recent trip to Rome with Attorney General Bill Barr.

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

A source in the Italian Ministry of Justice revealed earlier this month that Barr and Durham 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 apparently 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 revealed on Thursday that Durham’s criminal review has prompted some CIA officials to obtain criminal legal counsel in anticipation of being interviewed.

Brennan and Clapper were in charge not only when Mifsud spoke to Papadopoulos, but also when an unverified and largely discredited dossier, written by British ex-spy Christopher Steele and funded by the Hillary Clinton campaign and Democratic National Committee, was used to help justify a secret surveillance warrant against former Trump adviser Carter Page in the run-up to the 2016 election. 

The FBI supposedly obscured the fact that the Clinton campaign and DNC funded the dossier in its warrant application. They told the secret court that the dossier was prepared at the behest of an unidentified presidential campaign.

In responding to the expanded Durham probe, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., and House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff, D-Calif., accused the Trump administration of misconduct.

“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.”

Credit: Fox News