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Michael Novakhov – SharedNewsLinks℠: John Durham probing Ukraine as part of Trump-Russia investigation origins

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U.S. Attorney John Durham is investigating Ukraine’s role in the 2016 FBI probe of President Trump’s alleged ties to Russia, the Department of Justice confirmed Wednesday.

Earlier this year, Attorney General William P. Barr tapped Mr. Durham, the top federal prosecutor in Connecticut, to review how the FBI began its investigation into Mr. Trump’s presidential campaign and whether the agency improperly spied on key campaign figures.

Mr. Durham’s probe has now cast a spotlight on Ukraine, a Justice Department spokeswoman said.

“A Department of Justice team led by U.S. Attorney John Durham is separately exploring the extent to which a number of countries, including Ukraine, played a role in the counterintelligence investigation directed at the Trump campaign during the 2016 election,” DOJ spokeswoman Kerri Kupec said in a statement.

Ms. Kupec said Ukrainians who are not government officials have already volunteered information as part of the probe. She also said that Mr. Barr has not yet contacted the Ukrainian government over the investigation.

Ukraine has been at the center of a political firestorm in Washington as controversy swirls around Mr. Trump’s phone call to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky asking him to reopen that country’s investigation into the business dealings of Hunter Biden, the son of current Democratic presidential front-runner and former Vice President Joseph R. Biden.

SEE ALSO: Trump says transcript refutes Democrats’ claim of ‘call from hell’ with Ukraine

At some point during the call, Mr. Trump appears to ask the Ukrainian president if someone in his country has a server that contains some emails of his 2016 presidential election rival Hillary Clinton.

“I would like to ask you to do us a favor, though because our country has been through a lot and Ukraine knows a lot about it. I would like you to find out what happened with this whole situation with Ukraine. They say Crowdstrike…I guess you have one of your wealthy people…the server, they saw Ukraine has it,” Mr. Trump said in the call, according to a transcript.

It is not clear what Mr. Trump was referring to, but CrowdStrike is the name of the cybersecurity firm that was hired to probe the hack of the Democratic National Committee’s server in 2016.

In the call, Mr. Trump also said he would ask Mr. Barr to reach out to Ukrainian officials about the Biden investigation, according to a transcript of that call released Wednesday.

“Whatever you can do with the Attorney General would be great,” the president said.

But Mr. Barr said that never happened and he only learned of the call weeks later.

“The president has not spoken with the attorney general about having Ukraine investigate anything relating to former Vice President Biden or his son,” Ms. Kupec said. “The president has not asked the Attorney General to contact Ukraine on this or any other matter. The Attorney General has not communicated with Ukraine on this or any other subject.”

Despite Mr. Barr’s denials, at least one powerful Democrat — Rep. Jerrold Nadler, New York, who chairs the House Judiciary Committee — is demanding his recusal from the matter.

“The president dragged the Attorney General into this mess. At a minimum AG Barr must recuse himself until we get to the bottom of this matter,” Mr. Nadler, New York Democrat, tweeted.

Although it is unclear what exactly Mr. Barr would recuse himself from — the Justice Department criminal review into Mr. Trump’s phone was completed and cleared the president.

Separately, the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel concluded its role in the matter.

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Michael Novakhov – SharedNewsLinks℠