John Durham's secret criminal investigation reportedly involved Trump, not Clinton or the FBI

John Durham
John Durham Ron Sachs/Consolidated News Pictures/Getty Images

Special Counsel John Durham's long investigation of the FBI's probe of Russia's ties to former President Donald Trump never proved former Attorney General Bill Barr's theories that the investigation had started with anti-Trump skulduggery by the CIA and allied intelligence services, or through a conspiracy from Hillary Clinton's rival presidential campaign. But it wasn't for lack of trying, The New York Times detailed Thursday, after a monthlong review Durham's investigation.

Durham is currently writing his final report after going 0 for 2 in courtroom prosecutions.

The Times report answered some lingering questions from Durham's politically charged investigation, including why his top lieutenant abruptly quit before the 2020 election, and uncovered new information, like Durham's use of grand jury powers to sidestep a federal judge and obtain emails from an associate of George Soros. And it revealed that Barr transformed Durham's administrative review into a criminal investigation not because of anything to do with the FBI or Clinton, but so Durham could investigate a possible crime involving Trump.

When Durham and Barr made a very unusual trip to Italy in September 2019, "Italian officials — while denying any role in setting off the Russia investigation — unexpectedly offered a potentially explosive tip linking Mr. Trump to certain suspected financial crimes," the Times reports. Barr and Durham "decided that the tip was too serious and credible to ignore," but instead of assigning it to another prosecutor, Barr had Durham quietly investigate the matter, "giving him criminal prosecution powers for the first time."

"Durham never filed charges, and it remains unclear what level of an investigation it was, what steps he took, what he learned, and whether anyone at the White House ever found out," the Times adds. This "extraordinary fact" that Durham opened a criminal investigation of Trump "has remained secret," though "a garbled echo became public" when the Times, in October 2019, reported that Durham's review had become a criminal inquiry, presumably (but erroneously) because "Durham had found evidence of potential crimes by officials involved in the Russia inquiry."

Barr, "who weighed in publicly about the Durham inquiry at regular intervals in ways that advanced a pro-Trump narrative, chose in this instance not to clarify what was really happening," the Times notes.

You can read more at The New York Times about Barr's remarkable involvement in the Durham investigation, the dark hints he and Durham dropped to influence public perception, and how Durham kept going after hitting multiple dead ends.

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