WASHINGTON, D.C. – US Justice Department escalated its review into the origins of the collusion between Russia and the administration of President Donald Trump to a criminal investigation, The New York Times reported, citing two sources familiar with the matter.
According to the report, the upgraded status will allow the prosecutor, John H. Durham, “the power to subpoena for witness testimony and documents, to impanel a grand jury and to file criminal charges”. It is unclear what potential crime Durham is investigating, as well as when the criminal investigation was prompted.
The Justice Department declined to comment, the daily announced. US President Donald Trump has repeatedly denied the allegations of conspiring with the Russian government (as has the Kremlin), and US Special Counsel Robert Mueller stated in his report that he had not found enough evidence to prove the collusion took place.
Following the publication of the report, US Attorney General William Barr appointed Durham to lead the review of the origins of the “Russian collusion” probe. Mueller’s probe was initiated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in 2016, after they received information that a Trump campaign staffer was approached with an offer of hacked emails of election rival Hillary Clinton.
Durham’s review will seek to determine whether the FBI was tipped by US intelligence agencies (the CIA in particular) and whether their methods of information gathering were lawful, The New York Times added.