The Department of Justice has opened a criminal investigation into the origins of their own Russia probe, a move that may prompt fears President Trump is targeting those deemed to be his enemies, The New York Times reports. Two sources cited by the Times say the DOJ has shifted its existing administrative review of the origins of Robert Mueller's investigation into a criminal inquiry, a move that gives Connecticut U.S. Attorney John Durham, the prosecutor in charge of the probe, the power to issue subpoenas for witness testimony and documents, to enlist a grand jury, and to file criminal charges. Durham previously only had the power to voluntarily question people and examine government files.
It is not clear what the alleged crime is that prompted the criminal investigation; federal investigators, however, are only required to have a “reasonable indication” that a crime has been committed in order to open such an investigation. This standard is much lower than the “probable cause” required to obtain search warrants. The shift is bound to anger House Democrats, who are already looking into Trump’s pressure on Ukraine to probe the DOJ’s 2016 election investigation as part of the ongoing impeachment inquiry into an alleged quid-pro-quo.