John Durham previously exposed vast conspiracy that led to reforms in FBI’s Confidential Human Source Program.
The U.S. attorney reportedly appointed to investigate whether spying by the FBI on the Trump campaign was legal previously exposed a conspiracy between the bureau’s agents and mobsters to cover up for murders committed by mob informants.
Attorney General William Barr tasked U.S. Attorney John H. Durham in Connecticut to investigate whether spying on President Donald Trump’s presidential campaign in 2016 was adequately predicated, according to Reuters. The Department of Justice didn’t respond to a request to confirm the appointment.
Durham will scrutinize the conduct of several current and former senior FBI officials, including former Director James Comey, former Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, and former Deputy Assistant Director Peter Strzok. Those officials were involved in obtaining a warrant to spy on former Trump campaign associate Carter Page and deployed at least two spies to target Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos.
Durham may be one of the most uniquely qualified prosecutors for the job. In 2000, he exposed a group of FBI officials who used murderers as informants. The agents covered up a murder committed by a pair of mobster informants by framing four innocent men. The conspiracy to cover up for the murder involved the agents, their supervisors, and the FBI director himself, according to a ruling (pdf) by a judge who awarded the framed men and their estates more than $100 million in 2006. The bureau didn’t appeal the ruling.
Durham’s findings led to a congressional investigation of the FBI’s use of confidential human sources. In 2003, Congress released a scorching 3,500-page report titled “The FBI’s Use of Murderers as Informants.” The report concluded that the FBI’s conduct in the case amounted to “one of the greatest failures in the history of federal law enforcement.”
In the wake of the murderer-informant lawsuits and investigation, the FBI overhauled its Confidential Human Source Program. As a result, Durham will be probing the same program, which has been reformed as a result of his prior work.
Notably, Christopher Steele, the former British intelligence officer who compiled the infamous dossier of opposition research on Trump, was a confidential human source on the FBI’s payroll during the 2016 election. The bureau fired Steele after he broke the rules of the Confidential Human Source Program by speaking to the media. Before firing Steele, the bureau used his dossier to obtain a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act warrant to spy on Carter Page.
In addition to appointing Durham, Barr is also personally working with FBI Director Christopher Wray, CIA Director Gina Haspel, and Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats to review intelligence gathering techniques used to investigate Trump’s 2016 campaign, according to sources cited by Reuters, The Associated Press, and Fox News. The DOJ, DNI, and CIA didn’t respond to requests to confirm the reports. The FBI declined to comment.
A probe into the legality of the warrant to spy on Page is already underway by Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz, who is due to release his findings in coming weeks. more here