New York Times gets scoop from anonymous sources that Durham probe is now a criminal investigation

While many conservatives had assumed all along that U.S. attorney John Durham was aiming at potential criminal indictments in his investigation of the FISA warrants granted to surveil U.S. citizens, there was news that the tools of a criminal investigation, including empaneling a grand jury and issuing subpoenas, were being employed.  But late yesterday, relying on two anonymous sources, New York Times writers Katie Benner and Adam Goldman broke the news that criminal proceedings are underway.  The sub-head under the headline was a classic example of shaping the news in an anti-Trump direction:

(source)

The body of the article continued the political slant:

For more than two years, President Trump has repeatedly attacked the Russia investigation, portraying it as a hoax and illegal even months after the special counsel closed it. Now, Mr. Trump's own Justice Department has opened a criminal investigation into how it all began.

Justice Department officials have shifted an administrative review of the Russia investigation closely overseen by Attorney General William P. Barr to a criminal inquiry, according to two people familiar with the matter. The move gives the prosecutor running it, John H. Durham, the power to subpoena for witness testimony and documents, to convene a grand jury and to file criminal charges.

The opening of a criminal investigation is likely to raise alarms that Mr. Trump is using the Justice Department to go after his perceived enemies. Mr. Trump fired James B. Comey, the F.B.I. director under whose watch agents opened the Russia inquiry, and has long assailed other top former law enforcement and intelligence officials as partisans who sought to block his election.

Mr. Trump has made clear that he sees the typically independent Justice Department as a tool to be wielded against his political enemies. That view factors into the impeachment investigation against him, as does his long obsession with the origins of the Russia inquiry. House Democrats are examining in part whether his pressure on Ukraine to open investigations into theories about the 2016 election constituted an abuse of power.

Clearly, the narrative is set that investigating crimes against Trump is illicit, a perversion of the role of the Department of Justice to serve the political needs of the president.  Leading impeachment agitators Jerrold Nadler and Adam Schiff adopted the theme as well:

The chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.), and the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), voiced concern on Thursday night about the turn of events.

"These reports, if true, raise profound new concerns that the Department of Justice under Attorney General William Barr has lost its independence and become a vehicle for President Trump's political revenge," they said in a joint statement. "If the Department of Justice may be used as a tool of political retribution, or to help the President with a political narrative for the next election, the rule of law will suffer new and irreparable damage."

I don't think it is coincidental that DOJ inspector general Horowitz has announced that his report is nearing completion:

Justice Department Inspector General Michael E. Horowitz told Senate and House lawmakers Thursday that the process of finalizing his report into potential Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) abuses ahead of the 2016 presidential election was "nearing completion," according to a letter obtained by Fox News.

The "lengthy" draft report "concerns sensitive national security and law enforcement matters," Horowitz wrote in the letter, adding that he anticipated "the final report will be released publicly with few redactions."

Horowitz noted that he did not anticipate a need to prepare or issue "separate classified and public versions of the report."

The leak to the New York Times signals that the counter-narrative is being unleashed to enable dismissal of Horowitz and subsequently any indictments that may come from Durham as political abuse.  With huge support from the media, the Dems hope to ride out exposure of the Russiagate scandal.

While many conservatives had assumed all along that U.S. attorney John Durham was aiming at potential criminal indictments in his investigation of the FISA warrants granted to surveil U.S. citizens, there was news that the tools of a criminal investigation, including empaneling a grand jury and issuing subpoenas, were being employed.  But late yesterday, relying on two anonymous sources, New York Times writers Katie Benner and Adam Goldman broke the news that criminal proceedings are underway.  The sub-head under the headline was a classic example of shaping the news in an anti-Trump direction:

(source)

The body of the article continued the political slant:

For more than two years, President Trump has repeatedly attacked the Russia investigation, portraying it as a hoax and illegal even months after the special counsel closed it. Now, Mr. Trump's own Justice Department has opened a criminal investigation into how it all began.

Justice Department officials have shifted an administrative review of the Russia investigation closely overseen by Attorney General William P. Barr to a criminal inquiry, according to two people familiar with the matter. The move gives the prosecutor running it, John H. Durham, the power to subpoena for witness testimony and documents, to convene a grand jury and to file criminal charges.

The opening of a criminal investigation is likely to raise alarms that Mr. Trump is using the Justice Department to go after his perceived enemies. Mr. Trump fired James B. Comey, the F.B.I. director under whose watch agents opened the Russia inquiry, and has long assailed other top former law enforcement and intelligence officials as partisans who sought to block his election.

Mr. Trump has made clear that he sees the typically independent Justice Department as a tool to be wielded against his political enemies. That view factors into the impeachment investigation against him, as does his long obsession with the origins of the Russia inquiry. House Democrats are examining in part whether his pressure on Ukraine to open investigations into theories about the 2016 election constituted an abuse of power.

Clearly, the narrative is set that investigating crimes against Trump is illicit, a perversion of the role of the Department of Justice to serve the political needs of the president.  Leading impeachment agitators Jerrold Nadler and Adam Schiff adopted the theme as well:

The chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.), and the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), voiced concern on Thursday night about the turn of events.

"These reports, if true, raise profound new concerns that the Department of Justice under Attorney General William Barr has lost its independence and become a vehicle for President Trump's political revenge," they said in a joint statement. "If the Department of Justice may be used as a tool of political retribution, or to help the President with a political narrative for the next election, the rule of law will suffer new and irreparable damage."

I don't think it is coincidental that DOJ inspector general Horowitz has announced that his report is nearing completion:

Justice Department Inspector General Michael E. Horowitz told Senate and House lawmakers Thursday that the process of finalizing his report into potential Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) abuses ahead of the 2016 presidential election was "nearing completion," according to a letter obtained by Fox News.

The "lengthy" draft report "concerns sensitive national security and law enforcement matters," Horowitz wrote in the letter, adding that he anticipated "the final report will be released publicly with few redactions."

Horowitz noted that he did not anticipate a need to prepare or issue "separate classified and public versions of the report."

The leak to the New York Times signals that the counter-narrative is being unleashed to enable dismissal of Horowitz and subsequently any indictments that may come from Durham as political abuse.  With huge support from the media, the Dems hope to ride out exposure of the Russiagate scandal.