U.S. Attorney John Durham is leading an investigation into the origins of the Russian collusion probe. It is now reported that as part of that effort, he has interviewed an Australian diplomat.
Alexander Downer served as Australia’s high commissioner to the United Kingdom, and he is said to have met with Durham’s team last month. That’s according to The Australian, which is also reporting that he denied being part of an effort to undermine President Trump.
Downer sent a a confidential cable back to Australia in 2016 after having met Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos, which Durham has reportedly viewed.
Papadopoulos told Downer that the Russians had damaging information on former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. When the website WikiLeaks began to publish hacked emails belonging to the Democratic National Committee, Downer reported his conversation to the United States government.
Erika Thompson, a fellow Australian diplomat who set up the encounter between Papadopoulos and Downer was also interviewed.
For his part, Papadopoulos subsequently pleaded guilty to making false statements to the FBI. He served twelve days in federal prison.
Downer’s disclosure lead an FBI counterintelligence investigation known as Crossfire Hurricane, which is thought to have been initiated by FBI agent Peter Strzok.
Strzok was later revealed to have sent hundreds of anti-Trump text messages to his lover, FBI lawyer Lisa Page. Among them was a promise that “we’ll stop” Trump’s election, as well as claims that there was an “insurance policy” against the incoming president.
Durham is examining conduct on the part of DOJ, FBI, and intelligence community officials. Last month, the nature of his undertaking changed from being an administrative view into a criminal investigation. This allows Durham to impanel a grand jury and issue indictments.
Durham is also said to have spoken with DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz. Horowitz conducted an investigation of his own into alleged abuses under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. The findings of that investigation are to be released in the coming weeks.
Democrats have not been happy about Durham’s investigation or Barr’s support of it, particularly when it comes involving foreign officials.
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff has accused Barr of “weaponizing the Justice Department to go after the president’s enemies.”