WASHINGTON—Special Counsel John Durham, appointed during the Trump administration to examine the origins of the FBI’s 2016 Russia probe, is presenting evidence to a grand jury and preparing a lengthy report expected to be completed in the coming months, according to people familiar with the matter.
Former Attorney General William Barr quietly appointed Durham to be special counsel in October after assigning him the task as a prosecutor in May 2019, and a “report” from the Wall Street Journal says it has continued, presenting information to a grand jury and looking into possible prosecutions beyond the single guilty plea from ex-FBI lawyer Kevin Clinesmith.
Mr. Durham’s review, which began in May 2019, has led to one prosecution to date and has gone on longer than the two-year tenure of special counsel Robert Mueller, who in May 2017 took over the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.
Robert Mueller’s special counsel report concluded the Russians interfered in the 2016 election in a “sweeping and systematic fashion,” but particular members of congress refused to acknowledge the, then, Presidents self-admission to having his children meet with a kremlin lawyer “to get information on [a political] opponent,” was evidence of coordinating with a foreign government. (Yes, seriously. Republicans don’t consider meeting with foreign agents during an election cycle with the sole purpose of getting opposition research to be election interference unless it’s done by Democrats.)
The January 2017 assessment from the CIA, the National Security Agency, and the FBI concluded with “high confidence” that Putin “ordered an influence campaign in 2016” and that Russia worked to “undermine public faith in the U.S. democratic process, denigrate former Secretary of State Clinton, and harm her electability and potential presidency” and “developed a clear preference for President-elect Trump.”
The Senate Intelligence Committee released a bipartisan report in April defending the 2017 assessment, saying it “presents a coherent and well-constructed intelligence basis for the case of unprecedented Russian interference.”
Mr. Durham has been examining potential criminal charges against several lower-level Federal Bureau of Investigation employees, and people who aren’t in government, according to people familiar with the matter. Mr. Durham was also expected to deliver a report by the end of this summer, though that target is likely to be pushed back, some of the people said.
The special-counsel regulations required Mr. Durham to have reported on the status of the investigation and submitted a proposed budget by July 1 for the next fiscal year that begins in October. Attorney General Merrick Garland could then determine whether the investigation would continue and establish the budget.
A Justice Department spokeswoman declined to say whether Mr. Garland has decided to allow Mr. Durham’s probe to continue beyond September or approved a budget for the next fiscal year, citing a policy of not commenting on ongoing investigations. In May, the Justice Department disclosed that the Durham investigation had spent around $1.5 million between October 2020 and March.