Reporting by Paula Reid
The Department of Justice has upgraded its probe into the origins of theRussia investigationfrom an administrative review to a criminal investigation , a person familiar with the information confirmed to CBS News on Thursday. The investigation is being overseen by Attorney General William Barr and being run by Connecticut U.S. Attorney John Durham.
The move gives Durham the power to subpoena witnesses and documents and to impanel a grand jury that could bring criminal charges. Durham has been examining whether the government intelligence collection efforts related to Trump associates were lawful and appropriate, both during the 2016 presidential campaign and after President Trump was inaugurated.
Sources said a criminal investigation is still not expected at this point, but this news suggests that the investigation is ramping up.
The news of the criminal investigation was first reported byThe New York Times.
Some of the president’s political opponents are likely to see this as retaliatory. It would not be the first time Mr. Trump would face accusations that he is targeting people involved in the Russia investigation whom he claims are his political enemies. In 2017,he fired then-FBI director James Comey, later telling “NBC Nightly News” it was because of the Russia investigation. Comey’s firing led to the appointment of special counsel Robert Mueller.
Mr. Trump also fired former Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe, who took over for Comey, claiming he inappropriately released information to the Wall Street Journal about an investigation into the Clinton Foundation and then mislead FBI agents who asked him about it afterward.McCabe told 60 Minutesearlier this year that he believes he “was fired because I opened a case against the president of the United States. “