Special Counsel John Durham is eyeing potential criminal charges for several low-level FBI employees and other people not in government as part of his investigation into the origins of the FBI’s 2016 Russia probe, people familiar with the matter told the Wall Street Journal.
Durham is currently presenting evidence to a grand jury and is preparing a report to be finished in the next several months, the Journal reported. Much of his investigation is currently focused on whether tipsters knowingly provided false information to the FBI in possible violation of laws against lying to the government. The false tips reportedly pertain to connections between the Trump campaign and the Russian bank Alfa Bank.
The report was expected to be submitted by the end of summer but may be delayed.
Durham was required to submit a proposed budget for the 2021-2022 fiscal year, as well as a report on the status of his investigation, by July 1. The Justice Department did not say whether Attorney General Merrick Garland had approved a new budget for Durham’s investigation, telling the Journal it does not comment on ongoing investigations.
Durham, the former U.S. district attorney for Connecticut, was assigned to investigate the origins of the Russia probe in 2019 by Attorney General Bill Barr. Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s two-year investigation did not produce evidence of a conspiracy between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin to interfere with the 2016 election, but led to several campaign officials pleading guilty to lying about their interactions with Russian officials.
Two previous investigations into the origins of the Russia probe, one by Congress and another by the Department of Justice’s internal watchdog, uncovered violations related to the way the FBI went about securing a warrant to surveil a Trump campaign official.
Before stepping down as attorney general in 2020, Barr appointed Durham as special counsel, allowing him to continue the investigation during the Biden administration.
The investigation has spurred one prosecution so far, in which ex-FBI lawyer Kevin Clinesmith pleaded guilty to altering an email used to apply for a FISA warrant to surveil former Trump-campaign adviser Carter Page. Clinesmith was sentenced to twelve months probation and 400 hours of community service.