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AP: AG Barr has appointed a special counsel in investigation of Russia probe



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This story has been updated to include Sen. Lindsey Graham’s statements

U.S. Attorney General William Barr told The Associated Press on Tuesday that in October he had appointed Connecticut’s U.S. Attorney John Durham as a special counsel under the same federal statute that oversaw special counsel Robert Mueller during the initial probe into claims of Russian election interference.

Furthermore, he told The AP that Durham’s investigation into the origins of that initial Russia probe has been tightening its scope to focus more on the conduct of FBI agents who worked on the Russia investigation, known as Crossfire Hurricane.

This relates to text messages of two FBI agents assigned to the probe in which they criticized President Donald Trump and for which Mueller removed them from the probe’s team. Republicans have claimed that these texts, which were publicized in December 2017, are proof that Mueller’s Russia probe was politically motivated against Trump.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) today made this statement after Attorney General William Barr notified the committee that he had appointed U.S. Attorney John Durham with the powers and authority of a special counsel.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, told reporters Tuesday in a press release that he agreed with Barr’s decision to appoint Durham as a Special Counsel in the investigation related to the “Department of Justice and FBI’s conduct in the Crossfire Hurricane investigation.”

Graham said that ‘based on hearings we held in the Senate Judiciary Committee, it is obvious the system failed and the FISA Court’s rebuke of the Department of Justice and FBI was more than warranted.”

The chairman stated that the only way to restore credibility to the DOJ and FBI “after this disgraceful episode, people have to be held accountable – either through criminal prosecution or administrative action.” 

“I have complete confidence that Mr. Durham is the right man at the right time to be appointed special counsel,” Graham said. “I hope his work product will help restore confidence in the Department of Justice and FBI after the debacle called Crossfire Hurricane.”

RELATED: Graham: Durham investigation report expected after election

Additionally, Barr has provided extra protection to Durham, The AP also reported, giving him the authority of a special counsel to complete the work without being easily fired.

Under federal regulations, according to The AP, a special counsel can only be fired by the U.S. attorney general and for specific reasons such as misconduct, dereliction of duty, or conflict of interest. On top of that, an attorney general must document such reasons in writing.

For more on the story, read The AP’s full story here.

You can follow Douglas Braff on Twitter @Douglas_P_Braff.

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Historic House Vote Expels Rep. George Santos Amidst Scandal



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In a turn of events, the House of Representatives made history on Friday with a vote to expel Rep. George Santos (R-N.Y.), marking the first such expulsion in over two decades. A moment fraught with gravity unfolded as Speaker Mike Johnson wielded his gavel to formalize Santos’ removal, setting a precedent in congressional annals.

Santos, indicted on 23 counts related to wire fraud, identity theft, and other charges, has not faced conviction but stands accused of misusing campaign funds for opulent purchases. The bipartisan vote, tallying 311 to 114, signaled robust support for expulsion, with a marginally higher number of Republicans opting to retain Santos.

Questions loomed as Speaker Johnson left the chamber, his silence leaving the fate of the ongoing government spending battle uncertain. According to reports from Fox News, Democratic Rep. Steny Hoyer emphasized the non-partisan nature of the decision, asserting that members concluded Santos had tarnished the House’s reputation and was unfit for representation.

Within the GOP, conflicting opinions emerged, with Rep. Darrell Issa arguing against expulsion, citing the presumption of innocence. The tight-lipped stance of the House Ethics Committee played a pivotal role in the deliberations.

Conversely, members of the New York Republican delegation, led by Rep. Marc Molinaro, asserted Santos’ commission of crimes, justifying expulsion based on a comprehensive investigation.

Santos himself predicted the outcome in an exclusive morning interview on “FOX & Friends.” This vote not only underlines the House’s rare use of expulsion powers but also sets a critical precedent in handling members facing severe legal challenges.

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