Attorney General William P. Bar has held private meetings abroad with foreign intelligence officers seeking their assistance in an investigation by the Justice Department that President Trump hopes will discredit the US intelligence investigation agencies for the intervention of Russia in the 2016 elections, according to people familiar with the matter.
Barr's personal involvement is likely to raise further criticism from Democrats pursuing impeachment that he is assisting the Trump administration to use a branch executive to extend investigations aimed primarily at presidential opponents.
But the High Level The Justice Department's focus on the conduct of intelligence operatives is likely to cheer Trump and other conservatives for whom "investigating investigators" has become a rallying cry.
The direct involvement of the nation's top official indicates Bar's priority for the investigation of John Durham, an American lawyer in Connecticut who has been tasked with reviewing US intelligence in the 2016 election and its aftermath.
The Attorney General's active role also underscores the extent to which nearly three-year elections still consume significant resources and attention in the federal government. Current and former intelligence and law enforcement officials have expressed displeasure and concern Monday that the Justice Department chief is taking such a direct role in reviewing what they consider conspiracy theories and unfounded misconduct allegations.
Barr has already made assurances to British intelligence officials, and last week the Attorney General traveled to Italy, where he and Durham met with senior Italian government officials, and Barr asked the Italians to assist Durham, according to one acquaintance with the question. This isn't Bar's first trip to Italy to meet intelligence officials, he said. The Trump administration has made similar requests to Australia, these people said.
A spokesman for the Department of Justice declined comment.
The president still often complains that those involved in the investigation of his campaign should be charged with crimes, claiming the FBI's demand for a possible clash of election season between Russian and Trump officials was a witch hunt, prompted from agents and bureaucrats who oppose Trump to become president. That investigation ended earlier this year when Special Counsel Robert S. Müller III determined there was insufficient evidence to blame the Americans for plotting with Russia and declined to decide whether the president wanted to obstruct justice.
David Laufman, a former Justice Department official who was involved in the early stages of the probe in Russia, said it was "quite unorthodox for the attorney general to fly around the world as an accurate person to collect additional evidence of a specific investigation by the Department of Justice, "And especially in the case of Bar.
" Even if a matter such as a threshold matters, the appropriateness of conducting a retrial of the Justice Department's own preliminary inquiry into the intervention to Russia, the appointment of John Durham – a counterfeit, non-party prosecutor – provided some reason to believe that he would be dealt with in a professional, non-partisan way, "Laufman sai e." But if the attorney general is essentially conducting this investigation, all this premise is out the window. "
This is an evolving story and will be updated.