May 14, 2019

Barr appoints U.S. attorney to investigate origins of Russia probe

Attorney General Bill Barr. Photo: Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post via Getty Images

Attorney General Bill Barr has appointed U.S. Attorney for the District of Connecticut John Durham to investigate the origins of the Russia probe and whether law enforcement's methods of collecting intelligence on the Trump campaign were legal, the New York Times first reported and the AP confirmed.

Why it matters: Barr had previously signaled that he wanted to review the FBI's surveillance of the Trump campaign, telling senators in a hearing last month that "spying did occur" — though he clarified that he did not mean to suggest that it was necessarily illegal. Durham has previously served as a special prosecutor investigating allegations of impropriety by intelligence officials, "including the F.B.I.’s ties to a crime boss in Boston and accusations of C.I.A. abuses of detainees," according to the Times.

The big picture: This is at least the third investigation into the origins of the Russia probe. The FBI's inspector general Michael Horowitz is currently investigating the government's use of wiretaps through the FISA process, while U.S. Attorney for Utah John Huber is also looking into claims of FBI misconduct.

  • Senate Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham has also signaled his intention to "investigate the investigators," which has become a rallying cry for many Trump allies who believe the president was unfairly targeted.

Go deeper

Trump says he will campaign against Lisa Murkowski after her support for Mattis

Trump with Barr and Meadows outside St. John's Episcopal church in Washington, D.C. on June 1. Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images

President Trump tweeted on Thursday that he would endorse "any candidate" with a pulse who runs against Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska).

Driving the news: Murkowski said on Thursday that she supported former defense secretary James Mattis' condemnation of Trump over his response to protests in the wake of George Floyd's killing. She described Mattis' statement as "true, honest, necessary and overdue," Politico's Andrew Desiderio reports.

8 hours ago - World

The president vs. the Pentagon

Trump visits Mattis and the Pentagon in 2018. Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty

Over the course of just a few hours, President Trump was rebuffed by the Secretary of Defense over his call for troops in the streets and accused by James Mattis, his former Pentagon chief, of trampling the Constitution for political gain.

Why it matters: Current and former leaders of the U.S. military are drawing a line over Trump's demand for a militarized response to the protests and unrest that have swept the country over the killing of George Floyd by police.

New York Times says Tom Cotton op-ed did not meet standards

Photo: Avalon/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

A New York Times spokesperson said in a statement Thursday that the paper will be changing its editorial board processes after a Wednesday op-ed by Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), which called for President Trump to "send in the troops" in order to quell violent protests, failed to meet its standards.

Why it matters: The shift comes after Times employees began a coordinated movement on social media on Wednesday and Thursday that argued that publishing the op-ed put black staff in danger. Cotton wrote that Trump should invoke the Insurrection Act in order to deploy the U.S. military against rioters that have overwhelmed police forces in cities across the country.