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Barr Appoints Durham as Special Counsel to Continue Probe under Biden

Attorney General William Barr in the East Room of the White House in Washington, D.C., April 1, 2019. (Yuri Gripas/Reuters)

Attorney General William Barr has appointed U.S. attorney John Durham as special counsel to secure his probe into the origins of the Russia investigation as president-elect Joe Biden prepares to take office.

The authority of the special counsel will make it more difficult for the incoming Biden administration to fire Durham, allowing the attorney to continue his work on the probe. The order appointing Durham special counsel is dated October 19; however, Barr wrote that the order should not be made public until after the general election, “because legitimate investigative and privacy concerns warrant confidentiality.”

“I decided the best thing to do would be to appoint them under the same regulation that covered [Robert] 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,” Barr told the Associated Press.

Durham’s investigation “is focused on the activities of the Crossfire Hurricane investigation within the FBI,” Barr said.

Crossfire Hurricane was the name given to the FBI’s investigation of possible collusion between the 2016 Trump campaign and Russian operatives. The more than two-year probe yielded no evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia to disrupt the 2016 election.

As a result of Durham’s investigation, former FBI lawyer Kevin Clinesmith pleaded guilty to altering an email that he used to apply for a FISA warrant against former Trump-campaign adviser Carter Page. Clinesmith was involved in the Crossfire Hurricane investigation from its early stages. In August 2016, the FBI agents who opened the Crossfire Hurricane investigation gave Trump his first intelligence briefing, and Clinesmith approved a summary of that briefing along with former agent Peter Strzok.

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Zachary Evans is a news writer for National Review Online. He is a veteran of the Israeli Defense Forces and a trained violist.