In a move conservative-leaning news media are calling a search for truth and justice, but left-leaning outlets deride as satisfying Trump and retaliating against legitimate investigations, United States Attorney General William Barr has hired a Connecticut prosecutor to investigate the origins of the Trump-Russia collusion investigation.
Barr has made it clear that since the publicized findings of Robert Mueller’s investigation into the Trump administrations did not establish that crimes were committed, the nation’s top law enforcement agent intends to scrutinize the process used to arrange the investigation, ensuring that proper procedures were followed in the search for answers.
Barr has hired John Durham, a United States prosecutor from Connecticut, to look into the approval process of secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrants that reportedly were based in part on a dossier authored by a former British intelligence officer. The dossier was paid for first by the Washington Free Beacon, a conservative organization, and after by the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee through the opposition-research firm FusionGPS. FISA judges were not made aware of the link to the DNC and Clinton prior to authorizing the warrants. Factual assertions in the dossier have been the subject of partisan debate, and many of its claims have been dismissed by the now-released Mueller Report.
In addition to the dossier, investigators used opinion pieces published by left-leaning media organizations to convince FISA judges to authorize the warrants. Durham will look into the “transition period” before Trump took office, when reports of possibly illegal wiretapping and other spying efforts were used against the Trump campaign.
U.S. Intelligence efforts to uncover wrongdoing by the Trump team lead to at least one instance of the use of an undercover informant, who was placed to get information from former Trump foreign policy advisor George Papadopoulos. Papadopoulos claims the informant tried to “seduce” him in an effort to get information that might confirm illegal activity by the campaign. The informant was a dead end for investigators.
The Durham investigation will run concurrently with two other investigations being conducted by federal authorities concerned about the origins of the Trump-Russia investigation. Department of Justice Inspector General Michael Horowitz is examining potential abuses of surveillance power by the FBI related to the investigation of the Trump campaign team.
The U.S. Attorney for Utah, John Huber, is also looking into potential illegal surveillance in addition to the investigation into the Clinton Foundation. The Foundation has been under scrutiny since at least 2007 because of questionable donations from foreign governments, most particularly Middle Eastern nations, that some observers characterize as “Pay-to-Play” politics. Much of the controversy originated while Hillary Clinton served as Secretary of State and failed to disclose numerous contributions that would likely have required an ethics investigation had they been known.
Democrats are calling the appointment of Durham a politically motivated attack, and are accusing AG Barr of using the law enforcement power of the Attorney General’s office as a weapon against political foes of the President. Republicans, conversely, expect the investigation to lead to answers about the role Democrats played in the use of law enforcement to combat the Trump campaign team.