As we reported recently, the probe into the origins of the Russia investigation initiated by Attorney General William Barr, and being conducted by U.S. Attorney John Durham, has changed from what was an “administrative review” into a criminal investigation.
Now that it has been elevated to that level, several former high ranking Obama officials have reason to sweat.
Fox News is reporting that a number of former high-level Obama administration officials could “fall into the investigative crosshairs of U.S. Attorney John Durham’s team as his probe into the handling of the Russia investigation has risen to the level of a criminal inquiry.” The elevation in status means the U.S. attorney for Connecticut will be able to subpoena witnesses, file charges and impanel grand juries.
“You do not impanel a grand jury at this point unless you are going to indict,” a source familiar with the investigation told Fox News. “Durham is at a point where he knows he has crimes and now the question is how many people were involved and they have a pretty good idea of that group of people and what the charges can be and whether or not they can get some cooperators.”
It’s not clear when the change occurred, but the probe began in May as an administrative review. A source familiar with the matter told Fox News that DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz’s upcoming report on alleged FBI surveillance abuses against the Trump campaign will shed light on why Durham’s probe has become a criminal inquiry. Horowitz announced last week that his report would be available to the public soon, with “few” redactions.
President Donald Trump has repeatedly called the Russia investigation conducted by special counsel Robert Mueller a “witch hunt.” Republicans have suggested the Mueller investigation stemmed from a plot by members of the Obama Administration and career intelligence officials, in what they call the “Deep State,” to undermine Trump.
Which Former Obama Officials Might Be Caught in the IG’s Net?
No one has speculated which “former Obama officials” may be implicated by Durham, however, 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 has prompted some CIA officials to obtain criminal legal counsel in anticipation of being interviewed.
Former FBI Director Comey signed three of the FISA applications for Page, that Durham is looking in to, while former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, former Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, former Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates, and former Acting Deputy Attorney General Dana Boente, all signed at least one. So, it stands to reason that any, or all of the Obama administration personnel could be in the crosshairs.
Barr’s shift of the investigation from an “administrative review” to a criminal inquiry, has prompted allegations from Democrats that the Department of Justice is being politicized. Attorney General Bill Barr, however, rejected those claims and defended the Durham probe in an interview earlier this week with Fox News, while accusing the James Comey-era FBI brass of a “failure of leadership.”
The upgrade to a criminal investigation comes as President Trump is already facing scrutiny about the potential abuse of power, including a House impeachment inquiry examining whether he withheld military aid in order to pressure the president of Ukraine to launch an investigation of former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter.