- Connecticut federal prosecutor John Durham, who was picked by Attorney General William Barr to investigate the source of the Russia probe, has found no evidence that it was a set-up by US intelligence, The Washington Post reported.
- A separate report by justice department inspector general Michael Horowitz expected to be released next week will also conclude that there is not good evidence to believe that FBI’s Russia probe was launched because of the anti-Trump bias of senior officials.
- President Donald Trump and his allies have long attempted to discredit the Russia probe as a plot to discredit him concocted by “deep state” officials.
- In recent weeks the president and his allies have seized a conspiracy theory — rubbished by the intelligence community, security officials and experts — claiming that Ukraine was in fact behind a plot to sway the 2016 election.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
The prosecutor picked by Attorney General William Barr to investigate the origins of the Russia probe said he has found no evidence to support claims that the investigation was the result of a plot by partisan intelligence officials, sources have told The Washington Post.
Connecticut federal prosecutor John Durham was appointed by Barr to conduct an inquiry into the origins of the FBI’s probe into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian intelligence.
The justice department’s inspector general, Michael Horowitz, is conducting his own separate investigation into whether evidence available to investigators at the time warranted launching the investigation.
According to the report, Horowitz contacted Durham to ask if he had evidence that refuted his finding that the probe was not launched because of a plot to ensnare the campaign using a mysterious Maltese professor, Joseph Mifsud. Durham has replied that he did not.
Barr has reportedly said he does not agree with Horowitz’ conclusion that anti-Trump bias played no part in the launch of the Russia probe, and believes that Durham’s would be more thorough.
The Justice Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment. A spokesman for Durham’s office declined to comment.
Part of the focus of Durham’s probe was Maltese professor Mifsud, who the FBI learnt had acted as a go-between for Trump campaign officials and Russians said to be in possession of damaging information on Hillary Clinton during the 2016 election campaign.
The FBI learning of contacts between Mifsud and Trump officials was one of the grounds for the launch of the probe into possible collusion.
Some conservatives have claimed that Mifsud was in fact working for US intelligence all along, and was secretly attempting to entrap Trump officials with the offer of Russian assistance for the campaign. Trump and his allies have dubbed the officials they claim are plotting against them the “deep state.”
But Durham has found no evidence to substantiate this theory, the Post reports, with Horowitz also told by US intelligence agencies that Mifsud was not working as their asset. He relayed his findings to Horowitz.
The inspector general’s report is expected to to be released next week, and Trump has hailed the report as likely to substantiate his assertion that the Russia probe was a partisan “hit job.”
According to details of the report obtained by news publications including The New York Times, the report finds no evidence that senior FBI officials were motivated by anti-Trump bias in launching the investigation. However it does find that procedural errors were made by officials as part of the probe.
The Russia probe was ultimately taken over by special counsel Robert Mueller, whose report was submitted to Congress in March.
It found that there was insufficient evidence to bring charges of criminal conspiracy against Trump officials, and declined to reach a judgement on whether Trump obstructed justice in a bid to derail the probe, citing justice department rules against charging a sitting president with a crime.