John Durham seeks interviews with two CIA officers over Russia investigation origins

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The Justice Department intends to interview two CIA officers for its review of the origins of the Russia investigation.

U.S. Attorney John Durham’s team wants to talk to at least one senior counterintelligence official and a senior analyst who examined Russia’s role in meddling in the 2016 election, according to the New York Times.

Although formal requests have not yet been submitted, CIA Director Gina Haspel informed senior officials that her agency will cooperate, but will work to ensure that sources, methods, and intelligence provided by allies would be protected.

Attorney General William Barr tasked Durham, a U.S. attorney from Connecticut, with leading the inquiry focused on the origins of the counterintelligence investigation into President Trump’s campaign, which the FBI began in the summer of 2016.

American officials say Barr is interested in understanding how the CIA coordinated with the FBI and how the agency came to its conclusion that Russian President Vladimir Putin gave the order to sow discord in the election to help Trump and undermine his Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton.

The review is not a criminal inquiry, but should Durham find criminal activity he can take prosecutorial action. Top CIA officials are said to be anxious over the federal prosecutor’s efforts.

The Justice Department’s examination of the early stages of the counterintelligence investigation into Trump’s campaign has been cheered by Republicans and criticized by Democrats. After Trump granted Barr sweeping powers to declassify secret information and instructed a handful of agencies to cooperate with his investigation, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff panned the effort as a “disturbing” scheme to politicize intelligence.

A DOJ letter written to House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., outlining the scope of its investigation said the review is “broad in scope and multifaceted” and includes a look at actions both by the U.S. government and by foreigners.

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