Federal prosecutors interviewed multiple FBI officials for Russia probe review: report

Federal prosecutors interviewed multiple FBI officials for Russia probe review: report
© Getty Images

Federal prosecutors who are looking into the origins of the government's Russia probe have interviewed about two dozen people, suggesting that the inquiry is further along than previously known, The New York Times reported Saturday.

The prosecutors have asked witnesses about whether former FBI officials that have been frequent targets of President TrumpDonald John TrumpFive takeaways from the Democratic debate As Buttigieg rises, Biden is still the target Leading Democrats largely pull punches at debate MORE hold anti-Trump bias, former officials and others familiar with the review told the Times.

U.S. Attorney John DurhamJohn DurhamNo credibility in this braying for Trump's removal Impeachment tests Barr-Trump relationship Democrats doth protest too much against the Durham investigation MORE, who is leading the investigation, has not interviewed all of the FBI officials who were instrumental in opening the Russia probe in 2016, sources told the newspaper.

ADVERTISEMENT

Durham has reportedly not spoken with former FBI counterintelligence official Peter Strzok, former FBI Director James ComeyJames Brien Comey3 reasons why impeachment fatigue has already set in Day 2 impeachment ratings drop by more than 1 million from first day Chris Wallace on Yovanovitch testimony: 'If you're not moved, you don't have a pulse' MORE, former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabeAndrew George McCabeThe curious timeline for taking down Trump Federal prosecutors interviewed multiple FBI officials for Russia probe review: report Brendan Gleeson lands Trump role in CBS miniseries based on Comey memoir MORE or former FBI General Counsel James Baker.

According to the Times, the moves suggest Durham may still be gathering facts before speaking with those key players.

Former CIA Director John BrennanJohn Owen BrennanTrump bemoans 'double standard' in Stone conviction The curious timeline for taking down Trump Brennan: Russian election interference 'changed the mind of at least one voter' MORE told NBC News that Durham has expressed plans to question current and former intelligence officials including Brennan himself and former Director of National Intelligence James ClapperJames Robert ClapperThe curious timeline for taking down Trump Fairness, tradition, and the Constitution demand the 'whistleblower' step forward Schiff: Barr 'weaponizing' DOJ 'to go after the president's enemies' MORE

The news outlet also reported, citing three former CIA officials, that the prosecutor is asking to speak with CIA analysts who were involved with Russia-related assessments and that some of the analysts have hired attorneys. 

Attorney General William BarrWilliam Pelham BarrGOP rep predicts watchdog report on alleged FISA abuses will find 'problems' Barr defends Trump's use of executive authority, slams impeachment hearings GOP eager for report on alleged FBI surveillance abuse MORE, who is overseeing the review, has said he wants to learn whether the collection of intelligence on the Trump campaign had a sufficient basis.

Critics view the Justice Department investigation as an effort by the Trump administration to undermine the intelligence community's findings on Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. 

Durham's review was not opened as a criminal investigation, meaning that the prosecutor is not able to subpoena witnesses or documents, although the Times reported that it is not clear whether the investigation's status has changed. 

A law enforcement official told NBC that Durham has expanded his staff and the time frame of his investigation. A Trump administration official reportedly said that the probe is now going beyond Trump's 2017 inauguration. 

The Times reported that at one point, Strzok, who opened the Russia inquiry after a tip by the Australian government, was the focus of the current review. Investigators reportedly asked about the tip, which said that Russia had offered information on Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonAs Buttigieg rises, Biden is still the target Harris rips Gabbard over Fox appearances during Obama years Steyer, Gabbard and Yang shut out of early minutes of Democratic debate MORE to the Trump campaign. 

Durham also reportedly asked witnesses about Christopher Steele, a former British spy who had compiled a dossier of allegations about Trump that was used to obtain a warrant application that ended up permitting the FBI to wiretap a member of the Trump campaign in 2016.  

One former official said that he rebuked the idea that officials sought to damage Trump's candidacy, the Times reported.

The person reportedly contrasted the public handling of the investigation into Clinton's emails in 2016 with the secret investigation into the Trump campaign before the election.

A spokesman for Durham declined to comment to The Hill on Saturday. The FBI also declined to comment. 

Updated: 12:35 p.m.