CIA Director John Brennan testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, June 16, 2016, before the Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on the Islamic State. Brennan said that the Islamic State remains “formidable” and “resilient,” is training and attempting to deploy operatives for further attacks on the West and will rely more on guerrilla-style tactics to compensate for its territorial losses in the Middle East. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
The Wall Street Journal reports that the Durham investigation is continuing despite the coronavirus shutdown. Connecticut U.S. Attorney John Durham recently drove down to Washington to meet with his team of investigators.
Durham’s team is looking into the origins of the Trump/Russian collusion probe as well as the January 2017 Intelligence Community Assessment which stated that Russia had meddled in the 2016 U.S. presidential election to help Trump win.
“People familiar with the process” told The Wall Street Journal that Durham’s team began interviewing CIA personnel earlier this year. The source also said that “at least one former CIA official has been seeking to hire a lawyer in recent weeks in connection with the inquiry.”
The report said that British officials had been less than accommodating of the Durham team. For example, “investigators were refused by British authorities earlier this year when they requested an interview—outside formal, more time-consuming channels—with former British spy Christopher Steele.”
Moreover, Sir Andrew Wood, the former U.K. Ambassador to Russia, who first brought the Steele dossier to the attention of the late Sen. John McCain in late 2016, said he had been contacted by investigators from Durham’s team and had refused to cooperate. Wood responded to an inquiry from The Wall Street Journal by email on Thursday. He wrote, “My answer to an enquiry by email from a member of the team about 2016 some weeks ago was that I had nothing to add to what was already on the public record.”
As was reported in The New York Times in December, the team is focused on former CIA Director, John Brennan. At the time that article was published, investigators had requested all of Brennan’s communications from his time at the CIA.
According to The Wall Street Journal:
It has focused on people who are or were working at the National Intelligence Council, a unit of the Director of National Intelligence’s office that coordinated the U.S. intelligence community’s assessment of Russia’s 2016 election interference, as well as on individuals at other agencies whose work fed into that assessment.
That focus has heightened tensions between investigators and U.S. intelligence officials. “There was no political interference” by Mr. Brennan or anyone else, said a former senior intelligence official involved in preparing the report. A 2004 intelligence overhaul that added new procedures to “tease out and highlight” analysts’ differences—meant to address failures that occurred in assessing Iraq’s weapons-of-mass-destruction programs in the early 2000s—“worked perfectly,” the official said. A U.S. official familiar with the Durham review and with the compilation of the report, made public in January 2017, agreed, stressing that its conclusions have held up under scrutiny from lawmakers and intelligence agencies’ own internal reviews in the more than three years since it was published.
In a March interview, Attorney General William Barr said Durham had been “making good progress on a lot of fronts.” He also expected the investigation to wrap up late this summer.