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

Federal prosecutors interviewed multiple FBI officials for Russia probe review: report
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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 TrumpFormer employees critique EPA under Trump in new report Fired State Department watchdog says Pompeo aide attempted to 'bully' him over investigations Virginia senator calls for Barr to resign over order to clear protests MORE hold anti-Trump bias, former officials and others familiar with the review told the Times.

U.S. Attorney John DurhamJohn DurhamBarr asks US attorney to further investigate 'unmasking' in 2016 Rosenstein to testify as part of Graham's Russia investigation probe New FBI document confirms the Trump campaign was investigated without justification 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.

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Durham has reportedly not spoken with former FBI counterintelligence official Peter Strzok, former FBI Director James ComeyJames Brien ComeyMcCabe, Rosenstein spar over Russia probe Rosenstein takes fire from Republicans in heated testimony Democrats aim to amend Graham subpoena to include Trump allies MORE, former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabeAndrew George McCabeMcCabe, Rosenstein spar over Russia probe New FBI document confirms the Trump campaign was investigated without justification Graham to release report on his probe into Russia investigation before election 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 BrennanRosenstein takes fire from Republicans in heated testimony The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Trump tweets as tensions escalate across US Trump asserts his power over Republicans 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 Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Trump tweets as tensions escalate across US Trump asserts his power over Republicans Comey, Rice, Clapper among GOP senator's targets for subpoenas amid Obama-era probe 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 BarrVirginia senator calls for Barr to resign over order to clear protests Pelosi scoffs at comparison between Trump and Churchill: 'I think they're hallucinating' Trump says removal of protesters 'handled very well' 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 ClintonBiden opens widest lead over Trump in online betting markets Trump, Biden battle to shape opinion on scenes of unrest Sessions accepts 'Fox News Sunday' invitation to debate, Tuberville declines 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.