The Justice Department's review of the Russia probe is now reportedly a criminal investigation

William Barr gets applause
(Image credit: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

The Justice Department has shifted its administrative review of the origins of the 2016 Russia prove into a criminal investigation, The New York Times and other news organizations reported Thursday night. Attorney General William Barr opened the counter-investigation in May and handed control of it to U.S. Attorney John Durham. It is unclear when Durham's investigation, closely overseen by Barr, was upgraded to a criminal probe or what potential crimes are being examined. The new status will allow Durham to subpoena witnesses, convene a grand jury, and file criminal charges.

The revelation was met with concern that President Trump is using the nominally independent Justice Department to target his perceived enemies or try to show that, contrary to detailed evidence released by former Special Counsel Robert Mueller, Russia did not try to help him win in 2016. Trump has long railed against the investigation, placed into Mueller's hands after Trump fired FBI Director James Comey, and an entire cast of law enforcement and intelligence officials. "Trump is already facing scrutiny about a potential abuse of power, including a House impeachment inquiry" into how much he bent U.S. foreign policy in Ukraine toward his own political benefit, The Associated Press notes.

Subscribe to The Week

Escape your echo chamber. Get the facts behind the news, plus analysis from multiple perspectives.


Sign up for The Week's Free Newsletters

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

Sign up
To continue reading this article...
Continue reading this article and get limited website access each month.
Get unlimited website access, exclusive newsletters plus much more.
Cancel or pause at any time.
Already a subscriber to The Week?
Not sure which email you used for your subscription? Contact us
Peter Weber, The Week US

Peter has worked as a news and culture writer and editor at The Week since the site's launch in 2008. He covers politics, world affairs, religion and cultural currents. His journalism career began as a copy editor at a financial newswire and has included editorial positions at The New York Times Magazine, Facts on File, and Oregon State University.