Attorney General William Barr says he has appointed U.S. Attorney John Durham as a special counsel to continue his probe of the origins of the FBI’s 2016 Russian investigation, giving him an extra layer of protection to continue his probe during President-elect Joe Biden’s time in office.
In an interview with the Associated Press on Tuesday, Barr said, “I decided the best thing to do would be to appoint them under the same regulation that covered Bob Mueller, to provide Durham and his team some assurance that they’d be able to complete their work regardless of the outcome of the election.”
Additionally, Barr said Durham’s investigation “narrowed considerably” and is “really is focused on the activities of the crossfire hurricane investigation within the FBI.”
He also said he expects Durham to release a public report on his finding.
The decision to appoint Durham as a special counsel will make it harder for the incoming Biden administration to fire him. An attorney general can only fire special counsels for specific reasons such as misconduct or a conflict of interest.
Barr also provided the Associated Press with an October 19 order officially appointing Durham as a special counsel.
The order reads that Durham is authorized “to investigate whether any federal official, employee or any person or entity violated the law in connection with the intelligence, counter-intelligence or law enforcement activities” regarding the FBI’s 2016 investigation into whether members of Trump’s campaign conspired with Russian operatives to swing that presidential election.
Read the order below:
NEW: Barr appointed DURHAM as a full special counsel — with the same powers Mueller had — on Oct. 19.— Kyle Cheney (@kyledcheney) December 1, 2020
The appointment order: pic.twitter.com/nO5ExTMiNJ
In 2019, Barr appointed Durham to examine the origins of the FBI’s Russia investigation dubbed Crossfire Hurricane to determine whether law enforcement officials broke the law and improperly targeted members of Trump’s campaign.
While Trump’s allies were hoping Durham would release a stunning report detailing wrongdoing in the Russia investigation before the 2020 election, there were no such developments.
And before the election, Barr previously signaled that it was unlikely that there would be.
The president expressed his displeasure with the lack of developments as he said, “If Bill Barr actually made that statement, I would be very disappointed in him. I don’t know that he made that statement.”
After a separate investigation, related to Durham’s probe, concluded without indictments, Trump lashed out and said, “I think it’s really a horrible thing that they’re allowed to get away — when they say no indictments, they actually said no indictments before the election.”
“I had to go through elections with all those clouds over my head. But they don’t because the Republicans are so nice. Personally, I think it’s too bad. I think it’s too bad. They’re guilty as hell,” he added.