Attorney General William P. Barr announced today that U.S. Attorney John Durham, who has been investigating the FBI's spying on the 2016-17 Trump campaign, is now legally a "special counsel," which gives him extra protection in his work and makes it harder for a new administration to fire him, reported the Associated Press.
Barr told the AP that Durham was given this new title "under the same federal statute that governed special counsel Robert Mueller in the original Russia probe. He said Durham’s investigation has been narrowing to focus more on the conduct of FBI agents who worked on the Russia investigation, known as Crossfire Hurricane."
“I decided the best thing to do would be to appoint them under the same regulation that covered Bob Mueller, to provide Durham and his team some assurance that they’d be able to complete their work regardless of the outcome of the election," said Barr.
In the Oct. 19 order, obtained by the AP, Durham is authorized "'to investigate whether any federal official, employee or any person or entity violated the law in connection with the intelligence, counter-intelligence or law enforcement activities' directed at the 2016 presidential campaigns, anyone associated with the campaigns or the Trump administration," stated the news service.
The AP further reported, "Appointing Durham as a special counsel would mean that he could only be fired for very specific reasons under the law.
"Under the regulations, a special counsel can be fired only by the attorney general and for specific reasons, such as misconduct, dereliction of duty, conflict of interest of other violations of Justice Department policies. An attorney general must also document those reasons in writing."