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Reports: Justice Dept. investigating Russia inquiry that led to Mueller report

By Nicholas Sakelaris
Reports: Justice Dept. investigating Russia inquiry that led to Mueller report
U.S. Attorney General William Barr listens during a Cabinet meeting at the White House on Monday. Photo by Yuri Gripas/UPI | License Photo

Oct. 25 (UPI) -- The Justice Department has decided to investigate its own inquiry into Russian interference in the 2016 election, which ultimately produced the Mueller report and concluded there was no collusion between Moscow and President Donald Trump's former campaign.

The New York Times, CNN and NBC News reported Friday the agency's investigation is based on suspicions by U.S. Attorney General William Barr that some of the investigating officials acted improperly. As a result, he changed the administrative review to a criminal investigation, the reports said.

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Federal prosecutor John Durham is leading the new investigation, which gives him subpoena power and authority to assemble a grand jury and file charges.

The probe follows calls from Trump for a review of the actions of former FBI Director James Comey, former CIA Director John Brennan and former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper.

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The FBI began investigating in July 2016 and submitted its conclusions, outlined in a report by special counsel Robert Mueller, in March. The inquiry examined whether the Trump campaign cooperated with Russia to influence the election and whether Trump obstructed justice by attempting to interfere in the process.

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The new investigation comes as House Democrats are conducting an impeachment inquiry against the president over suspicions he threatened to withhold Congress-approved military aid to Ukraine unless the government in Kiev dug up dirt on 2020 presidential candidate Joe Biden and his son, Hunter.

House intelligence committee Chairman Rep. Adam Schiff and House judiciary committee Chairman Rep. Jerrold Nadler criticized the new investigation Friday.

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"[It raises] profound new concerns that the Department of Justice under Attorney General William Barr has lost its independence and become a vehicle for President Trump's political revenge," the Democrats said. "If the Department of Justice may be used as a tool of political retribution or to help the president with a political narrative for the next election, the rule of law will suffer new and irreparable damage."

Also Friday, U.S. District Judge Beryl Howell ordered the Justice Department to release to the judiciary committee portions of the Mueller report that were redacted to protect grand jury secrecy.

Howell wrote that the committee "has shown that it needs the grand jury material referenced and cited in the Mueller Report to avoid a possible injustice in the impeachment inquiry, that this need for disclosure is greater than the need for continued secrecy, and that the 'request is structured to cover only material so needed.'"

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The Justice Department has until Wednesday to release the information.

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