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25 Oct, 2019 00:42

DOJ opens criminal probe into 'Russiagate' investigation after administrative review – report

DOJ opens criminal probe into 'Russiagate' investigation after administrative review – report

The US Department of Justice has reportedly moved to launch a criminal inquiry into the roots of the 'Russiagate' probe, which fizzled after failing to uncover any damning evidence of collusion between the US president and Moscow.

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A months-long review launched by Attorney General William Barr into the origins of the ill-fated Russia investigation, repeatedly denounced by US President Donald Trump as a “hoax” and a “witch hunt,” has been transformed to a criminal inquiry, multiple media outlets reported late Thursday, citing US officials.

The move, if confirmed, would give DOJ officials more leverage in conducting the ever-expanding investigation, such as issuing subpoenas to prospective witnesses and filing criminal charges. It’s yet unclear if the grand jury had been convened in the case, a source told Reuters.

The review of the so-called ‘Russiagate’ saga was ordered by Barr back in May, when he appointed John Durham, the US attorney in Connecticut, to run the investigation.

“To the extent there was overreach, what we have to be concerned about is a few people at the top getting it into their heads that they know better than the American people,” Barr said back then.

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The review was focused on determining whether the FBI and other intelligence agencies that brought the Russia probe to life broke the law with their intelligence gathering methods – including while obtaining a wiretap warrant to monitor Trump aide Carter Page.The warrant, as it later emerged, was partially grounded in the infamous Steele dossier, which remained uncorroborated at the time and is generally unverifiable.

In April, shortly before the formal launch of the review, Barr drew the wrath of Democrats for saying that “spying did occur” during the heated 2016 presidential campaign. While many liberals pounced on the AG, urging him to retract this statement and lambasting the claim as a “conspiracy theory,” they continued to peddle the Russiagate story, which was about to ignominiously implode after the release of the Mueller report later the same month.

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