For the past several months, Attorney General William Barr has been carrying out an inquiry into the origins of the Russia investigation. That probe looked into whether the 2016 Donald Trump campaign colluded with Kremlin officials. Republicans — and the president himself — have claimed that the Russia investigation was a “setup” designed to frame Trump and halt his bid for the presidency.
But according to a Washington Post report on Wednesday, those suspicions have been debunked — by the prosecutor hand-picked by Barr himself to lead the investigation.
John Durham, the United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, has been leading the probe into the Russia investigation’s origins, even traveling overseas in an attempt to gather information discrediting the FBI’s efforts to discover whether there were links between the Trump campaign and the Russian government.
In his final report on the investigation — available online via The New York Times — special counsel Robert Mueller said that he found “numerous links” between Trump campaign officials and individuals with ties to the country’s government.
Department of Justice Inspector General Michael Horowitz has also been looking into the origins of the Russia probe. According to The Washington Post, Horowitz contacted Durham, asking for any evidence he had uncovered showing that the investigation was a setup of Trump carried out by United States intelligence agencies.
But Durham was unable to provide Horowitz with any such evidence, The Washington Post reported on Wednesday afternoon.
Horowitz was especially interested, according to the outlet’s account, in what Durham had learned about Maltese academic Joseph Mifsud. His claim in April 2016 that Russia possessed “dirt” on Democrat Hillary Clinton in the form of “thousands” of purloined emails is what reportedly set off the FBI’s collusion investigation.
Mifsud made the claim to George Papadopoulos, a Trump campaign foreign policy adviser who has since claimed that he, too, was “set up” by the academic. Papadopoulos pleaded guilty to lying to investigators in the Russia probe and served a short jail sentence.
Barr and Durham traveled to Italy in September where he reportedly heard a taped deposition given by Mifsud.
However, the Maltese professor vanished in 2017, only to possibly resurface about three weeks ago through another recorded statement in which he denied any affiliations with western intelligence agencies. Though Mifsud’s lawyer has claimed the tape is a forgery, independent experts have said that the voice on the recording likely does belong to him, according to Malta Today.
The inspector general’s probe also concluded that Mifsud was not working for any western intelligence agencies, and according to The Washington Post, Durham was unable to provide any evidence that he was.