Attorney General Bill Barr has appointed a USA attorney to investigate the origins of the Russian Federation investigation and to determine if the FBI's surveillance of the Trump campaign in 2016 was legal.
Barr sent shockwaves through Washington after he acknowledged earlier this year during a hearing that he would review the origins of the FBI's investigation into the Trump campaign, and again when he referred to those activities as "spying".
While Durham has been appointed to this special investigative assignment, he is notably not a special counsel, a role that would come with increased authority.
He may have been referring to a surveillance warrant the Federal Bureau of Investigation obtained on ex-Trump associate Carter Page and the use of an Federal Bureau of Investigation informant to look into former Trump campaign foreign police adviser George Papadopoulos.
FBI Director Chris Wray said last week that he does not consider court-approved FBI surveillance to be "spying" and said he has no evidence the FBI illegally monitored Trump's campaign.
His inquiry is the third known investigation focused on the opening of an F.B.I. counterintelligence investigation during the 2016 presidential campaign into possible ties between Russia's election interference and Trump associates. The agency's watchdog is also examining the Russian Federation probe's origins and Barr has said he expects the watchdog report to be done in May or June. Huber had originally been tasked with looking at allegations of surveillance abuse by Attorney General Jeff Sessions but was in a holding pattern as the Inspector General completes his review of the situation surrounding the Carter Page surveillance warrant.
Durham is a career prosecutor who was nominated for his post as USA attorney in CT by Trump.
Durham has previously investigated law enforcement corruption, the destruction of Central Intelligence Agency videotapes and the Boston FBI's relationship with mobsters. On February 15, 2018, his nomination to be the United States Attorney was confirmed by voice vote.
Durham, who now serves as the chief federal prosecutor for the state of CT, will continue in that position, in addition to his role in the new investigation.