Representatives Adam Schiff (D., Calif.) and Jerry Nadler (D., N.Y.) criticized the Justice Department late Thursday after the DOJ upgraded its inquiry into the origins of the Russia probe into a criminal investigation.
The investigation, which is expected to delve into the origins of the counterintelligence probe of the Trump campaign’s contacts with Russia, is led by U.S. Attorney for the District of Connecticut John Durham, and was opened by U.S. Attorney General William Barr.
“These reports, if true, raise profound new concerns that the Department of Justice under AG Barr has lost its independence and become a vehicle for President Trump’s political revenge,” Nadler and Schiff posted on Nadler’s Twitter account in a joint statement.
“If the Department of Justice may be used as a tool of political retribution, or to help the President with a political narrative for the next election,” the statement continued, “the rule of law will suffer new and irreparable damage.”
Schiff heads the House Intelligence Committee, while Nadler is chair of the House Judiciary Committee. Both are heavily involved in the Democrat-led impeachment inquiry into President Trump.
Representative Doug Collins (R., Ga.), the ranking Republican member on the Judiciary Committee defended on Friday the DOJ decision to upgrade its investigation to a criminal probe.
“If Durham finds crimes were committed, I’m confident he’ll pursue justice and help restore America’s confidence in our premier law enforcement agency,” Collins wrote on Twitter. “Chairman Nadler is wrong to suggest this investigation is anything less than an effort to deliver truth and accountability.”
Attorney General Barr opened the investigation to determine whether an FBI probe into the 2016 Trump campaign was politically motivated. At the time, the Trump campaign was accused of collaborating with Russian government officials to win the 2016 presidential elections.
Barr is reportedly looking into the FBI’s use of a FISA warrant against former Trump campaign national security adviser Carter Page, as well as allegations that the agency based its probe on dubious intelligence provided in the Steele dossier.