The Department of Justice has reportedly launched a criminal investigation into its own Russia probe, according to The New York Times.

The investigation’s new status allows U.S. Attorney John Durham, the prosecutor tapped by Attorney General William Barr to subpoenas witnesses, file charges, and impanel fact-finding grand juries. The press reported Thursday, Oct. 24, that Durham’s criminal inquiry has prompted some CIA officials to hire lawyers in anticipation of being interviewed.

Durham’s investigation into potential FBI, Justice Department misconduct is focusing on the FISA (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act) warrant “obtained by the FBI to surveil former Trump aide Carter Page, as well as general issues relating to surveillance during the 2016 campaign and matters flowing from the FISA process,” reported Fox News.

The FBI used the Steele dossier to obtain a FISA warrant to surveil Carter Page. However, the FBI did not disclose the fact that the Clinton campaign and the Democrat National Committee (DNC) funded the Steele dossier, only indicating that the dossier was compiled at the behest of an unidentified presidential campaign.

Durham has indicated he is interested in questioning Obama’s Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and CIA Director John Brennan, an anti-Trump critic. In an interview with CNN, Clapper said that President Obama himself ordered the start of the Russia probe.

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Following the Times reporting, which did not mention the Steele dossier, Democrats have accused Barr and President Trump of utilizing the investigation for political purposes.

By contrast, Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) praised the move in response to the news, saying, “If true, this shows Bill Barr is doing EXACTLY his job: following the facts .Those who damaged America and broke the law to spread this hoax are about to face accountability.”

DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz’s upcoming report on alleged FBI surveillance abuses against the Trump campaign is expected to be released to the public shortly.

“If the rumors are true that IG Horowitz’s report and findings in Durham’s review will blast the conduct of the FBI’s Russia investigation, it will give Trump a lot of ammo to support his argument that he was unjustly targeted then and is being unjustly targeted now,” a House GOP source told Fox News. “It will justify Trump’s warnings about the deep state acting to hobble his presidency.”

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