Bill Barr asked Italian officials to discredit Russia probe — they responded with evidence linking Trump to crimes

Bill Barr asked Italian officials to discredit Russia probe — they responded with evidence linking Trump to crimes
Bill Barr Screengrab via MSNBC.

A new report from the New York Times details how former Attorney General Bill Barr's efforts to discredit the probe into the Trump campaign's contacts with Russian agents completely floundered.

One particularly telling section of the Times' story involves a trip that Barr made to Italy in order to push officials in that country for evidence that the Russia investigation was part of an elaborate setup designed to damage former President Donald Trump politically.

The Italian officials responded by offering evidence of wrongdoing of a very different sort.

"Italian officials... unexpectedly offered a potentially explosive tip linking Mr. Trump to certain suspected financial crimes," the Times reports. "Mr. Barr and [former special counsel John] Durham decided that the tip was too serious and credible to ignore. But rather than assign it to another prosecutor, Mr. Barr had Mr. Durham investigate the matter himself."

Durham never filed charges based on the tip the Italian officials gave and it's not clear just how closely he probed the purported evidence into Trump's prospective financial crimes.

Durham's probe into the Trump-Russia investigation ended with a whimper last year when he lost cases against former Clinton campaign lawyer Michael Sussmann and Russia analyst Igor Danchenko, both of whom he had accused of lying to the FBI.

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