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Barr announces he appointed a special counsel in Russia probe investigation before the election

Attorney General William Barr announced Tuesday he has appointed U.S. Attorney John Durham, who was previously tasked with investigating the 2016 Russia probe's origins, as special counsel.

Barr told The Associated Press that he appointed Durham as special counsel in October, explaining that ahead of the 2020 presidential election, "I decided the best thing to do would be to appoint them under the same regulation that covered Bob Mueller, to provide Durham and his team some assurance that they'd be able to complete their work regardless of the outcome of the election."

An order obtained by AP states that Durham is authorized to "investigate whether any federal official, employee, or any person or entity violated the law in connection with the intelligence, counter-intelligence, or law enforcement activities" while probing allegations of cooperation between Trump's campaign and Russia. Documents show that Barr "made the appointment on Oct. 19 and kept it secret so as not to interfere in the election," CNN writes.

Durham will now have additional protection, as a special counsel can only be fired by the attorney general for certain reasons, AP notes. Barr's announcement of his October appointment came on the same afternoon that he told AP the Justice Department has found no evidence of widespread voter fraud that would change the results of the 2020 election.