US President Donald Trump’s far left opponents have been desperately trying to dig up dirt on the president since he trounced former First Lady Hillary Clinton in the 2016 elections.
The witch hunt, as Trump calls it, is now more than two years old. The White House has been surprisingly patient for most of that time. But now Trump is mustering forces to turn the tables on those who still hope to see him impeached.
AP reports that Attorney General William Barr has appointed US attorney John Durham to examine the origins of the Russia investigation. The aim is to see whether the investigation — in terms of how they collected intelligence — was ‘lawful and appropriate’, says a person familiar with the issue.
Investigating or spying? There’s a difference
Barr’s decision seems to be a response to the outcry from Trump supporters, who believe the Mueller report was made through unlawful spying from the Justice Department and the FBI on the president’s 2016 campaign.
A month ago, Barr himself told members of congress that he believed ‘spying did occur’ on the campaign in order to gather the information found in the investigation.
Barr seems to be referring to a surveillance warrant given to the FBI from Carter Page, a former Trump associate. The FBI’s use of an informant while the bureau was investigating former foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos, also rings ‘spy’ alarm bells.
Barr has since insisted this revisiting is not in any ways fuelled by contempt, only to understand the origins of the special counsel’s investigation.
But of course, Democrats refuse to see it that way. They believe Durham’s assignment to the case is Trump’s attempt at diverting attention from the fact that Mueller could not exonerate the president on the allegation that he may have impeded on the investigation.
While the report found no support for potential US–Russia collusion, opposers maintain that the Russian probe was obstructed, prohibiting conspiracy-revealing information being found.
And FBI director Chris Wray insists the court-approved FBI surveillance was not ‘spying’ and that there is no evidence illegal monitoring of the 2016 campaign.
Durham’s the right man for the job
Durham’s inquiry, some congressional Republicans, and the Justice Department’s Inspector General Report all intend to examine how the Russian investigation began.
Barr expects the Inspector General report to be completed by June this year — occurring separately to Durham’s efforts.
Durham will continue to serve as the chief federal prosecutor in Connecticut during the inquiry.
He has previously investigated law enforcement corruption, the destruction of CIA videotapes and the Boston FBI office’s relationship with gangsters — being confirmed as US attorney unanimously by the Senate in 2018.
Connecticut’s two Democratic senators, Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy, called Durham a ‘fierce, fair prosecutor’.
He’s likely to do a thorough job of cleaning up this issue once and for all.
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