I'm trying to understand exactly what the Durham investigation is looking into. It seems to be looking into allegations that the Trump campaign was illegally wiretapped or something like that:

The US justice department has launched a criminal investigation into the origins of the Mueller inquiry. [...]

He [Durham] was tasked with determining whether the collection of intelligence on the Trump campaign in 2016 was lawful. [...]

Last April, Mr Barr told members of Congress that he believed "spying did occur" on the Trump campaign in 2016, adding: "The question is whether it was adequately predicated. And I'm not suggesting that it wasn't adequately predicated. But I need to explore that." [...]

Mr Trump has previously accused the FBI investigators who first launched the probe into his election campaign of treason.

However it's not clear to me who (if anyone) in the Mueller team is suspected to have done that. So is Barr or Trump or Durham suspecting that someone on the Mueller team knew about this [supposedly illegal] "spying" on the Trump campaign but is hiding it? If not that, what is the connection with the Mueller inquiry?

(And yes, Trump really said that the FBI spying on him was treason. I had to double-check that.)

  • 1
    Didn't the Mueller investigation start with a FISA wiretap on Carter Page and isn't John Huber looking into that?
    – JJJ
    Commented Oct 26, 2019 at 2:48
  • 3
    @JJJ Huber is no longer looking into that, Barr shifted the handling of criminal referrals from the FISA IG report from Huber to Durham: “Huber had originally been asked to take a look at the FISA applications and the electronic surveillance but then he stood back and put that on hold while the Office of Inspector General was conducting its review, which would've been normal for the department. And he was essentially on standby in case Mr. Horowitz referred a matter to him to be handled criminally. So he has not been active on this front in recent months and so Durham is taking over that role” Commented Oct 26, 2019 at 19:29
  • 5
    @JJJ That’s from Barr’s May 31 CBS interview: cbsnews.com/news/… And no, contrary to popular belief the FBI’s Trump-Russia investigation did not start with the Dossier and Carter Page. It started earlier than that, when the Australian Government informed the US government that Trump foreign policy advisor George Papadapoulos had mentioned to an Australian diplomat that Russia possessed emails damaging to Hillary Clinton. Commented Oct 26, 2019 at 19:33
  • @KeshavSrinivasan thanks for the background. The FBI investigation started earlier, but the Mueller investigation started later, taking over all the FBI had done on it before, right?
    – JJJ
    Commented Oct 26, 2019 at 19:34
  • 1
    @JJJ Yes, Robert Mueller was appointed in May 2017, long after all that Carter Page and George Papadopoulos stuff. And to be clear, the FBI’s involvement did not end with appointment of Mueller. Mueller and his team oversaw the FBI’s ongoing investigation and prosecuted crimes that the FBI uncovered. Commented Oct 26, 2019 at 19:39

3 Answers 3


According to Politico mainly intelligence officers have been questioned so far in this investigation:

Durham and Barr have been focusing primarily on the intelligence community—reportedly seeking interviews with the CIA analysts who drew conclusions about Putin’s motivations in 2016—and have not requested interviews with any of the senior FBI or DOJ employees who were directly involved in the opening of the Russia investigation in 2016, according to people familiar with the matter.

The Mueller connection being that their info influenced the FBI:

The F.B.I. did not use information from the C.I.A. in opening the Russia investigation, former American officials said. But agents’ views on Russia’s election interference operation crystallized by mid-August, after the C.I.A. director at the time, John O. Brennan, shared intelligence with Mr. Comey about it.

The C.I.A. did contribute heavily to the intelligence community’s assessment in early 2017 that Russia interfered in the 2016 election and tried to tip it in Mr. Trump’s favor, and law enforcement officials later used those findings to bolster their application for a wiretap on a Trump campaign adviser, Carter Page. [...]

In interviewing more than two dozen former and current F.B.I. and intelligence officials, Mr. Durham’s investigators have asked about any anti-Trump bias among officials who worked on the Russia investigation and about one aspect of the investigation that was at the heart of highly contentious allegations that they abused their powers: the secret application seeking a court order for a wiretap on Mr. Page. [...]

Mr. Durham has also asked whether C.I.A. officials might have somehow tricked the F.B.I. into opening the Russia investigation. [...]

Mr. Durham also has yet to question many of the former F.B.I. officials involved in opening the Russia investigation.

(Mueller was later appointed "to oversee the previously-confirmed FBI investigation of Russian government efforts to influence the 2016 presidential election and related matters".)

And while the NYT did not quite call the Obama-era intelligence leadership (Brennan and Clapper) as being directly targeted by Durham (only saying that he probably wants to interview them), Trump was less roundabout:

Mr. Durham has indicated he wants to interview former officials who ran the C.I.A. in 2016 but has yet to question either Mr. Brennan or James R. Clapper Jr., the former director of national intelligence. Mr. Trump has repeatedly attacked them as part of a vast conspiracy by the so-called deep state to stop him from winning the presidency.

The NYT also points out that Durham has led some investigations into the Bush-era CIA, so probably that was a reason why he was selected for this job.


It is pretty clear that John Brennan is a prime suspect:

However, if the media reports are true, and Barr and Durham have turned their focus to Brennan and the intelligence community, it is not a matter of vengeance; it is a matter of connecting the dots in congressional testimony and reports, leaks, and media spin, and facts exposed during the three years of panting about supposed Russia collusion. And it all started with Brennan.

There are a few others including

former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, former FBI special agent Peter Strzok, and British ex-spy Christopher Steele.

And if Lisa Page edited the 302 she's probably in the dock too.

  • You mention "a few others" but only provide a link. Could you please document those in your answer rather than just providing the link in case the link goes dead? (There's always the possibility of Google dropping their AMP program, after all.)
    – JAB
    Commented Oct 26, 2019 at 23:18
  • @JAB sure, here you go
    – user9790
    Commented Oct 27, 2019 at 11:43

Andrew McCabe is apparently under criminal investigation based on a referral from the DoJ Inspector General.

A recently unsealed declaration from "Special Agent Stephen F. Lyons" includes references to "A Report of Investigation of Certain Allegations Relating to Former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe" and further states "The US Attorney's Office for the District of Columbia is investigating the referral to determine whether criminal charges against McCabe are warranted."

Durham is the US Attorney for the District of Connecticut, however.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .