A source familiar with the investigation told Fox News that Durham, who is the U.S. attorney for Connecticut, is now “frequently” working out of Washington, D.C. Durham and some members of his team had been doing their work out of New Haven, Conn., over the summer.
Barr appointed Durham as special counsel in October, but only made public his decision to do so on Dec. 1.
“Before the election, as you know, I designated John Durham as special counsel because I wanted to provide him and his team with assurance that they’d be able to finish their work,” Barr said Monday during a press conference. “They’re making good progress now and I expect they will be able to finish their work.”
By appointing Durham as special counsel, Barr helped ensure his investigation into the origins of the Trump-Russia probe could continue through the next administration.
Barr’s comments come after Fox News reported last week that Durham has hired more prosecutors to join his team. It is unclear, at this point, who those prosecutors are.
Fox News reported in May that Jeff Jensen, the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Missouri, who was tapped by the Justice Department in February to review the case of former national security adviser Michael Flynn, was helping with Durham’s investigation. President Trump pardoned Flynn last month.
Also in May, Fox News reported that now former acting U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia Timothy Shea was also assisting with components of Durham’s investigation.
It is unclear, at this point, whether Jensen and Shea are continuing to work with Durham, and who the additions to his team are.
Barr tapped Durham to investigate “certain intelligence and law-enforcement activities surrounding the 2016 presidential election” in May 2019.
Barr, in notifying Congress earlier this month of his move to appoint Durham as special counsel, said he had expected Durham to complete his investigation over the summer, but noted that the COVID-19 pandemic and “additional information” he uncovered “prevented him from doing so.”
“In advance of the presidential election, I decided to appoint Mr. Durham as a special counsel to provide him and his team with the assurance that they could complete their work, without regard to the outcome of the election,” Barr wrote, adding that he appointed Durham with “the powers and authority of a special counsel” on Oct. 19.
In a scope order, obtained by Fox News, Barr stated that Durham “is authorized to investigate whether any federal official, employee or any other person or entity violated the law in connection with the intelligence, counter-intelligence, or law-enforcement activities directed at the 2016 presidential campaigns, individuals associated with those campaigns, and individuals associated with the administration of President Donald J. Trump, including but not limited to Crossfire Hurricane and the investigation of special counsel Robert S. Mueller, III.”
Under U.S. code, the special counsel would produce a “confidential report” and is ordered to “submit to the attorney general a final report, and such interim reports as he deems appropriate in a form that will permit public dissemination.”
Durham’s investigation has produced one criminal charge so far, against former FBI lawyer Kevin Clinesmith, who was accused of altering an email related to the surveillance of a former Trump campaign aide. That prosecution, though, did not allege a broader conspiracy within the FBI, and the conduct it involved had largely been laid out in a Justice Department inspector general report from last December.
After the Clinesmith charge, Durham’s team went silent. Two sources familiar with the investigation told Fox News over the summer that Durham was not finished with several lines of investigation, which he believed were “critical.”
One source told Fox News that Durham had been “feeling more pressure to get this done and wrapped up” over the summer, but said Durham “does not want this to be viewed political,” and would likely “punt it to after the election,” which he ultimately did.
Durham was appointed by Barr last year to investigate the origins of the FBI’s Russia probe, shortly after special counsel Mueller completed his yearlong investigation into whether the Trump campaign colluded with the Russians to influence the 2016 presidential election.
Mueller’s investigation yielded no evidence of criminal conspiracy or coordination between the Trump campaign and Russian officials during the 2016 election.