Federal prosecutors who are looking into the origins of the government’s Russia probe have interviewed about two dozen people, suggesting that the inquiry is further along than previously known, The New York Times reported Saturday.
The prosecutors have asked witnesses about whether former FBI officials that have been frequent targets of President TrumpDonald John TrumpFlorida GOP lawmaker says he’s ‘thinking’ about impeachment Democrats introduce ‘THUG Act’ to block funding for G-7 at Trump resort Kurdish group PKK pens open letter rebuking Trump’s comparison to ISIS MORE hold anti-Trump bias, former officials and others familiar with the review told The Times.
U.S. Attorney John DurhamJohn DurhamTrump denies knowledge of Barr meeting in Italy, says it would be appropriate Cornyn makes waves with tweet about Justice investigating Biden GOP turns furor on media amid impeachment fight MORE, who is leading the investigation, has not interviewed all of the FBI officials who were instrumental in opening the Russia probe in 2016, sources told the newspaper.
Durham has reportedly not spoken with former FBI counterintelligence official Peter Strzok, former director James ComeyJames Brien ComeyState cites 38 people for violations in Clinton email review GOP cautions Graham against hauling Biden before Senate Graham on Syria: Trump appears ‘hell-bent’ on repeating Obama’s mistakes in Iraq MORE, former deputy director Andrew McCabeAndrew George McCabeBrendan Gleeson lands Trump role in CBS miniseries based on Comey memoir Judge tells DOJ to charge McCabe or drop investigation McCabe says he would ‘absolutely not’ cut a deal with prosecutors MORE or FBI general counsel James Baker.
According to The Times, the moves suggest Durham may still be gathering facts before speaking with those key players.
Attorney General William BarrWilliam Pelham BarrMulvaney walks back comments tying Ukraine aid to 2016 probe Mulvaney ties withheld Ukraine aid to political probe sought by Trump Matthew Shepard’s parents blast Barr’s LGBTQ record in anniversary of hate crime law MORE, who is overseeing the review, has said he wants to learn whether the collection of intelligence on the Trump campaign had a sufficient basis.
Critics view the Justice Department investigation as an effort by the Trump administration to undermine the intelligence community’s findings on Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.
Durham’s review was not opened as a criminal investigation, meaning that the prosecutor is not able to subpoena witnesses or documents, although the Times reported that it is not clear whether the investigation’s status has changed.
The Times reported that at one point, Strzok, who opened the Russia inquiry after a tip by the Australian government, was the focus of the current review. Investigators reportedly asked about the tip, which said that Russia had offered information on Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonState cites 38 people for violations in Clinton email review Trump campaign to hold rallies in Mississippi, Kentucky Biden struggles to reverse fall MORE to the Trump campaign.
Durham also reportedly asked witnesses about Christopher Steele, a former British spy who had compiled a dossier of allegations about Trump that was used to obtain a warrant application that ended up permitting the FBI wiretap a member of the Trump campaign in 2016.
One former official reportedly said that he rebuked the idea that officials sought to damage Trump’s candidacy.
The person reportedly contrasted the public handling of the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s emails in 2016 with the secret investigation into the Trump campaign before the election.
The Hill has reached out to the Connecticut U.S. Attorney’s office and the FBI for comment.