The chairman of the House Intelligence Committee Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) reacted to reports that U.S. Attorney John Durham’s review of the origins of Russia probe is now a criminal investigation, calling it “illegitimate.”

“If these reports are correct and Bill Barr’s Justice Department is doing a criminal investigation of people who properly looked into Russian interference in our election … it means that Bill Barr on the president’s behalf is weaponizing the Justice Department to go after the president’s enemies,” Schiff told ABC News on Sunday, Oct. 27.

“You can assign good people to do an illegitimate investigation,” he added, referring to Durham, who is appointed by Attorney General William Barr to run the criminal investigation for the DOJ. “You can assign good people to investigate the president’s rivals. It doesn’t mean it’s any less tainted. This is tainted because of the motivation which is a political one to serve the president’s political interests.”

Schiff and his fellow Democrats are demanding grand jury materials from special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation as part of an impeachment campaign against President Donald Trump, though Mueller failed to find sufficient evidence of a criminal conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russia. 

Last Thursday, media reports indicated the shift in Durham’s investigation, which allows him to issue indictments, subpoenas, and impanel a grand jury. It was the same day Michael Horowitz, the DOJ inspector general, informed Congress that he will soon release his report of possible FBI abuse of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) during the investigation of the Trump campaign.

Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-Texas), a member of the House Intelligence Committee, stressed that it “is not a coincidence” that two events came out at the same time, suggesting that Horowitz’s report has turned up wrongdoing.

“I don’t believe in coincidences, and the end of the inspector general’s investigation and his impending report coming at the same time as the start of John Durham announcing that this is now a criminal probe is not a coincidence,” he said on Fox News’s “Sunday Morning Futures.”

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