Barr’s handpicked prosecutor for Russia case says he cannot back theory of ‘U.S. intelligence setup’

December 6, 2019

The prosecutor whom Attorney General William Barr personally tapped to scrutinize how U.S. intelligence agencies investigated President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign—and its connections to Russia—has refused to back a conspiracy theory around which the case has been built, according to a report by The Washington Post.

U.S. Attorney John Durham said he could not offer evidence to the Justice Department’s inspector general to support the suspicions of some conservatives that the case was a setup by American intelligence, sources told the news outlet.

Specifically, Durham could not confirm to Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz that a Maltese professor, Joseph Mifsud, who interacted with Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos in April 2016 was actually a U.S. intelligence asset deployed to ensnare the campaign, sources said.

But the intelligence agencies said the professor was not among their assets, the informants said. And Durham informed Horowitz’s office that his investigation had not produced any evidence that might contradict the inspector general’s similar findings on that point.

Spokespeople for the inspector general’s office, Durham, and the Justice Department declined to comment, The Washington Post reported.

The previously unreported interaction between Durham and Horowitz is documented in the IG’s forthcoming report on the Russia investigation; which concludes that the FBI had adequate cause to launch its Russia investigation, people familiar with the matter said. Its public release is set for Monday.

That could rebut conservatives’ worries—which Barr has shared with associates in recent weeks—that Horowitz might be blessing the FBI’s Russia investigation prematurely and that Durham could potentially find more, particularly with regard to the Maltese professor.

The news outlet said, however, that the draft is not final.  The inspector general has yet to release any conclusions, and The Washington Post has not reviewed Horowitz’s entire report, even in draft form. It is also unclear whether Durham has shared the entirety of his findings and evidence with the inspector general or merely answered a specific question.

In response to recent reports that Barr is skeptical about the forthcoming report, Justice Department spokeswoman Kerri Kupec said in a statement that the watchdog’s investigation “is a credit to the Department of Justice.”

She added, “Rather than speculating, people should read the report for themselves next week, watch the Inspector General’s testimony before the Senate

Research contact: @washingtonpost

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