Attorney General William Barr has assembled an internal team at the Justice Department to review controversial counterintelligence decisions made by DOJ and FBI officials - including actions taken in the summer of 2016, according to Bloomberg, which cites a person familiar with the matter.
This indicates that Barr is looking into allegations that Republican lawmakers have been pursuing for more than a year -- that the investigation into President Donald Trump and possible collusion with Russia was tainted at the start by anti-Trump bias in the FBI and Justice Department -Bloomberg
Barr seemingly confirmed the Bloomberg report earlier Tuesday, when he told a House panel "I am reviewing the conduct of the investigation and trying to get my arms around all the aspects of the counterintelligence investigation that was conducted during the summer of 2016."
Barr confirms that he is "reviewing the conduct of the [Russia] investigation," and indicates he still takes Devin Nunes seriously pic.twitter.com/2L7Tk19ZqN— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) April 9, 2019
For starters, Barr's team may want to investigate exactly how information flowed from a self-professed member of the Clinton Foundation - Joseph Mifsud - to Trump campaign aide George Papadopoulos in March of 2016, who learned during the encounter that Russia had "dirt" on Hillary Clinton.
Papadopoulos would later tell Australian diplomat Alexander Downer about the so-called Clinton dirt, which resulted in the launch of "operation crossfire hurricane," the code name for the FBI's counterintelligence investigation against the Trump campaign.
In September 2016, the FBI would send spy Stefan Halper to further probe Papadopoulos on the Clinton email allegation, and - according to an interview with pundit Dan Bongino, Papadopoulos says Halper angrily accused him of working with Russia before storming out of a meeting.
A massive thread on the entire 'setup' can be seen here.
Then of course there's the purported FISA abuse that the FBI committed when it used a salacious and unverified dossier to obtain a surveillance warrant on Trump campaign aide Carter Page. According to senior FBI lawyer Sally Moyer, there was a "50/50" chance that the FISA warrant would have been issued without the Clinton-funded anti-Trump opposition research.
While Barr's internal team is separate from a long-running investigation by the DOJ's Inspector General, Michael Horowitz, it falls short of appointing a special counsel to investigate the Obama DOJ and its many holdovers. Horowitz's inquiry is expected to be done by May or June, according to Barr's Tuesday testimony.
Barr is also looking into a criminal investigation launched against former Attorney General Jeff Sessions in 2017 for misleading lawmakers about his contacts with Russians during his time as a senator advising the Trump campaign. It was eventually closed without charges.
"That’s great news he’s looking into how this whole thing started back in 2016," said Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) - the top Republican on the House Oversight and Reform Committee. "That’s something that has been really important to us. It’s what we’ve been calling for."
Before the GOP lost control of the House, Jordan and California Republican Rep. Devin Nunes were aggressively pursuing how the FBI and DOJ harbored animus and bias against Donald Trump, and showed favoritism towards Hillary Clinton. The pair interviewed over 40 witnesses, held hearings, and demanded that the Justice Department hand over hundreds of thousands of documents related to the 2016 election.
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said in a March 28 interview with Fox News "Once we put the Mueller report to bed, once Barr comes to the committee and takes questions about his findings and his actions, and we get to see the Mueller report, consistent with law, then we are going to turn to finding out how this got off the rails."
So many questions. pic.twitter.com/66KaR52Kk8— James Comey (@Comey) March 24, 2019