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NYT: Investigation into Trump-Russia probe said to become criminal inquiry

In this image, Barr smiles and walks while wearing a suit and tie
Bill Barr delivers remarks at the Securities and Exchange Commission on Oct. 03. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

A federal investigation into the Trump-Russia probe — which is essentially looking into claims that the FBI's probe into President Trump's 2016 campaign was influenced by anti-Trump sentiments — has evolved into a full-fledged criminal inquiry, two people familiar with the matter said, per the New York Times.

Why it matters: The Justice Department's investigation now has the authority "to subpoena for witness testimony and documents, to impanel a grand jury and to file criminal charges," per the Times.

  • The investigation, led by Attorney General Bill Barr-appointed U.S. Attorney for the District of Connecticut John Durham, had interviewed "about two dozen and current F.B.I. officials" as of Oct. 19.
  • The Justice Department is also technically launching a criminal investigation against itself, since the FBI reports to the attorney general within the DOJ.

The big picture: The increased power wielded by a criminal investigation into the FBI's probe of possible links between Trump's 2016 campaign and Russia "is likely to raise alarms" that the president is using the DOJ "to go after his perceived enemies," per the Times.

Go deeper: Investigation into Trump-Russia probe continues to grow