Attorney General William Barr with Donald Trump
Pursuing the ongoing effort to bury the Mueller Report on Trump-Russia links, Attorney General William Barr officially implements Donald Trump’s assault on the FBI.
Barr named John Durham, the U.S. attorney for the District of Connecticut, to examine the origins of the investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 Presidential election.
The FBI was at the forefront of the effort, obtaining a warrant in October 2016 from a top-secret Government court to surveil Trump campaign advisor Carter Page.
The FBI had monitored Page since 2013, after Russian operatives tried to recruit him as an agent. In July 2016, self-styled oil executive Page, while working for the campaign, travelled to Moscow and met Russian officials.
The FBI’s warrant was supported by evidence from multiple sources, and complemented by US intelligence services’ examination of Russian hacking of computers linked to the campaign of Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.
The warrant, from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, was renewed throughout 2017 and early 2018 by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.
But for two years, Trump and his supporters have pushed the false narrative that the FBI inquiry was based solely upon the “Steele Dossier”, a collection of 17 memorandum with raw intelligence about contacts between Trump, his campaign staff, and Russian actors since 2013.
The dossier was compiled by former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele, working for the private firm Fusion GPS. It was initially commissioned by Repubican opponents of Trump, and then by the Democratic National Committee.
Just before becoming President, Trump attacked US intelligence agencies, comparing them to “Nazis” amid the publication of the Steele Dossier.
Throughout the investigation of the agencies and then from May 2017 of Special Counsel Robert Mueller, Trump and his allies have tried to undermine the inquiry by declaring “Witch Hunt” and “Hoax”.
Trump has assailed former and current officials of the FBI and the CIA, as well as Mueller and his team. Among the allegations is the claim that conversations in Trump Tower were wiretapped, including by microwave ovens.
The effort has been extended after the White House and Barr failed to quash the Mueller Report’s findings, before and after it was published on April 2018.
The 448-page report establishes “numerous contacts” between the Trump campaign and transition, Russian officials, and intermediaries such as WikiLeaks. In eight of 10 cases, it finds that Trump obstructed or attempted to obstruct justice — including the harassment of officials, the firing of FBI Director James Comey, and attempted firing of Mueller.
Appearing before a Congressional committee in early April, Barr tried to shift focus from the imminent appearance of the Mueller Report by expressing his concern that the FBI may have been “spying” on the Trump campaign. He announced his intention to order a review.
Barr selected Durham in recent weeks, according to “a person familiar with the decision”.
In 1999, Attorney General Janet Reno appointed Durham to investigate law enforcement corruption in Boston. During the Obama Administration, Attorney General Eric Holder asked him to investigate the treatment of CIA detainees and the destruction of videotapes.