The U.S. Justice Department review into the origins of the Trump-Russia probe is now a criminal investigation, two people familiar with the matter said, per the New York Times.
The review, led by U.S. attorney John Durham, has shifted from administrative review to a criminal investigation, the report stated.
The report notes that this move gives Durham “the power to subpoena for witness testimony and documents, to impanel a grand jury and to file criminal charges.”
The article states the following;
For more than two years, President Trump has repeatedly attacked the Russia investigation, portraying it as a hoax and illegal even months after the special counsel closed it. Now, Mr. Trump’s own Justice Department has opened a criminal investigation into how it all began.
Justice Department officials have shifted an administrative review of the Russia investigation closely overseen by Attorney General William P. Barr to a criminal inquiry, according to two people familiar with the matter. The move gives the prosecutor running it, John H. Durham, the power to subpoena for witness testimony and documents, to impanel a grand jury and to file criminal charges.
…] The move also creates an unusual situation in which the Justice Department is conducting a criminal investigation into itself.
Mr. Barr’s reliance on Mr. Durham, a widely respected and veteran prosecutor who has investigated C.I.A. torture and broken up Mafia rings, could help insulate the attorney general from accusations that he is doing the president’s bidding and putting politics above justice.
It was not clear what potential crime Mr. Durham is investigating, nor when the criminal investigation was prompted. A Justice Department spokeswoman declined to comment.
[…] Federal investigators need only a “reasonable indication” that a crime has been committed to open an investigation, a much lower standard than the probable cause required to obtain search warrants. However, “there must be an objective, factual basis for initiating the investigation; a mere hunch is insufficient,” according to Justice Department guidelines.
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Source – nytimes.com