HARTFORD, CT – The man leading the inquiry into the origins of the Russia probe is no stranger to politically sensitive investigations.
In his 41-year career as a prosecutor, John Durham, the U.S. attorney for Connecticut, has led investigations into the FBI's cozy relationship with Boston mobsters such as James "Whitey" Bulger and the CIA's use of tough interrogation techniques on terrorism suspects.
Former colleagues and defense lawyers who have squared off against him say he is unlikely to be concerned about any fallout from his findings during this new assignment.
"Whoever put him in charge, I hope they didn't expect him to be a yes man and follow the script, because he will follow the evidence relentlessly and call it as he sees it," said Hugh Keefe, a defense attorney in New Haven.
Attorney General William Barr picked Durham in May to examine what led the U.S. to open a counterintelligence investigation of President Donald Trump's 2016 campaign. That investigation led to special counsel Robert Mueller's probe of Russian interference in the election.
Last week, it was disclosed that Durham's administrative review has become a criminal inquiry, giving him powers to empanel a grand jury, compel witnesses to testify and bring criminal charges.
Durham is looking into whether the surveillance and intelligence-gathering methods used during the counterintelligence investigation were legal and appropriate.
But the parameters of his investigation have never been defined for the public, making it unclear what problems or misconduct from the early days of the Russia probe he is searching for.