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William Barr Reportedly Forms Team To Investigate Origins Of Russia Probe

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Chuck Ross Investigative Reporter

Attorney General William Barr has formed a team to investigate how the FBI’s counterintelligence investigation of the Trump campaign began, according to CBS News.

Barr told Congress on Tuesday that he is “reviewing the conduct of the investigation and trying to get my arms around all the aspects of the counterintelligence investigation that was conducted during the summer of 2016.”

Barr’s inquiry is separate from a Justice Department inspector general’s investigation into possible FBI abuse of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. Barr said Tuesday that investigation will wrap up by May or June. He also said that he plans to release special counsel Robert Mueller’s report of the Russia probe within a week. (RELATED: DOJ Watchdog Scrutinizing FBI Informant Who Made Contact With Trump Campaign)

Barr is probing the FBI’s standards for opening counterintelligence investigations, CBS reported.

The bureau opened its investigation into the Trump campaign on July 31, 2016, after receiving a tip from the Australian government regarding former Trump aide George Papadopoulos.

George Papadopoulos and his wife Simona Mangiante Papadopoulos arrive at a U.S. district court for his sentencing in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 7, 2018. (MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)

Republican lawmakers have long asked the Justice Department to investigate the FBI’s activities leading up to the Trump campaign probe. The investigation ultimately led to no charges against any Trump associates for crimes related to Russia.

The FBI also relied heavily on the Steele dossier as part of its counterintelligence probe. The report, authored by former British spy Christopher Steele, alleged the Russian government has blackmail material on President Donald Trump and that the campaign was part of a “well-developed conspiracy” with the Kremlin to influence the 2016 election.

Barr said in a letter on March 24 that Mueller did not establish a case for conspiracy or collusion involving Trump associates.

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