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 TrumpUS reimposes UN sanctions on Iran amid increasing tensions Jeff Flake: Republicans 'should hold the same position' on SCOTUS vacancy as 2016 Trump supporters chant 'Fill that seat' at North Carolina rally MORE hold anti-Trump bias, former officials and others familiar with the review told the Times.

U.S. Attorney John DurhamJohn DurhamTop Democrats call for DOJ watchdog to probe Barr over possible 2020 election influence Durham aide resigns from Russia probe amid concerns over pressure from Barr: report Trump praises several Fox News shows at briefing for coverage of Russia probe 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 ComeyBook: FBI sex crimes investigator helped trigger October 2016 public probe of Clinton emails Trump jabs at FBI director over testimony on Russia, antifa Graham: Comey to testify about FBI's Russia probe, Mueller declined invitation MORE, former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabeAndrew George McCabeGraham: Comey to testify about FBI's Russia probe, Mueller declined invitation Barr criticizes DOJ in speech declaring all agency power 'is invested in the attorney general' GOP votes to authorize subpoenas, depositions in Obama-era probe 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 BrennanJournalism or partisanship? The media's mistakes of 2016 continue in 2020 Comey on Clinton tweet: 'I regret only being involved in the 2016 election' Ex-CIA Director Brennan questioned for 8 hours in Durham review of Russia probe 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 ClapperOn China, Biden is no Nixon — and no Trump The Hill's 12:30 Report - Speculation over Biden's running mate announcement Trump slams former intelligence officials to explain 'reluctance to embrace' agencies 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 BarrBill BarrMichigan resident puts toilet on front lawn with sign 'Place mail in ballots here' Barr says Ginsburg 'leaves a towering legacy' Republicans call for DOJ to prosecute Netflix executives for releasing 'Cuties' 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 ClintonJeff Flake: Republicans 'should hold the same position' on SCOTUS vacancy as 2016 Momentum growing among Republicans for Supreme Court vote before Election Day Warning signs flash for Lindsey Graham in South Carolina 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.