Durham expands investigative team into ‘Russia collusion’ conspiracy

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President Donald J. Trump walks from the South Portico entrance of the White House to speak to reporters Saturday, Sept. 19, 2020, before boarding Marine One to begin his trip to Fayetteville, North Carolina. (Official White House photo by Tia Dufour)

By Chuck Ross
Daily Caller News Foundation

U.S. Attorney John Durham has added prosecutors to his team investigating the origins of the Trump-Russia probe, a top law-enforcement official told Fox News.

According to Fox News, the official said that Durham is making “excellent progress” in his investigation.

The move comes as President Donald Trump and some congressional Republicans have ramped up criticism of Attorney General William Barr and Durham for a lack of developments in the investigation. On Oct. 9, Trump said it was a “disgrace” that Durham would not be issuing a report on his investigation prior to the presidential election.

Barr tapped Durham on May 13, 2019 to conduct an inquiry into the U.S. government’s intelligence-gathering activities against Trump campaign associates. The review has morphed into a criminal investigation.

Barr designated Durham as a special counsel to oversee the investigation on Oct. 19, 2020. The order said that Durham would be required to submit a report to the Justice Department that could be released to the public. Barr also said in the order that Durham could submit interim reports before the investigation has officially ended.

Barr said in a letter to Congress on Dec. 1 that he initially expected Durham to finish the investigation by this summer, but that progress was slowed by the coronavirus pandemic.

Barr also said that “additional information” that Durham had uncovered has extended the investigation.

Durham’s investigation appears to have closely tracked with the findings of a Justice Department inspector general’s report that said that FBI misled the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court in order to get warrants to snoop on Trump campaign aide Carter Page.

Former FBI attorney Kevin Clinesmith pleaded guilty in Durham’s investigation on Aug. 19. He admitted in the plea agreement that he altered an email from the CIA in June 2017 to downplay Page’s past relationship with the spy agency.

Durham has also scrutinized the CIA’s assessment in late 2016 that Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered interference in the 2016 U.S. election specifically to help Donald Trump defeat Hillary Clinton.

There have been other indicators that Durham has expanded his investigation. The New Yorker reported in October that Durham’s team had issued subpoenas as part of a grand jury investigation into the origins of an allegation that a Russian bank had a covert channel of communication with the Trump Organization in 2016.

Allegations about the bank, Alfa Bank, first surfaced in news reports in October 2016. The Hillary Clinton campaign seized on the story at the time to suggest that the Trump campaign was conspiring with the Russian government.

A report from the Justice Department’s inspector general said that the FBI determined by February 2017 that there was no connection between Alfa Bank and the Trump Organization.

The Justice Department did not respond to a request for comment. A spokesman for Durham’s office declined to comment.

This story originally was published by the Daily Caller News Foundation.

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