Justice Department special counsel John Durham's inquiry into the origins of the investigation into ties between Russia and the 2016 Trump presidential campaign spent close to $3.8 million over its first year of operations, Politico reports. The spending, detailed in documents DOJ released Wednesday, coincides with an uptick in activity from Durham and his team. In November the special counsel indicted Igor Danchenko, a Washington-based Russian émigré, on five felony counts of making false statements to the FBI. Earlier, Durham brought an indictment against attorney Michael Sussmann, alleging that Sussmann misled the FBI in the early stages of its probe. Danchenko and Sussmann are among three people who have faced criminal charges from Durham’s probe since it was commissioned by then-attorney general William Barr in May 2019.
Durham's special counsel designation provides an additional degree of insulation from the regular DOJ apparatus. After the Biden administration took office, Attorney General Merrick Garland reserved the right to overrule Durham’s major decisions. To date, Garland has said little about the level of DOJ’s oversight into Durham’s activities, other than to say they are following the Justice Department’s rules regarding special counsels. “The regulations regarding special counsels are pretty clear about what Mr. Durham does,” Garland said this month. “I don’t want to say anything beyond what is in the regulations, but we are following the regulations.”