John Durham 700x420 1
John Durham 700x420 1

By Zachary Stieber

Federal prosecutor John Durham, who is leading the Department of Justice probe into the origins of the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, appointed a new criminal division chief on Jan. 27.

Durham, a U.S. attorney for the District of Connecticut, said that Sarah Karwan will take the position.

“I am thrilled that Sarah Karwan will lead our Criminal Division. During her more than 12 years as an AUSA [assistant U.S. attorney], Sarah has done it all, prosecuting violent criminals, drug traffickers, financial fraudsters, corrupt public officials, and a wide variety of other wrongdoers,” Durham said in a statement.

“Given the breadth of her experience and her exceptional lawyering skills, she certainly will be a standout as our new Criminal Chief.”

Karwan most recently was chief of the District’s Major Crimes Unit, where she supervised prosecution of cases involving matters such as immigration, human trafficking, and hate crimes. Her cases included prosecuting a Connecticut teenager who possessed a firearm with “an obliterated serial number,” a New Haven man who possessed heroin and crack cocaine with intent to distribute, and a Woodbury man who stole more than $1.8 million from the estate of a woman who died, according to Justice Department press releases.

As an assistant U.S. attorney, Karwan served as both the district’s professional responsibility officer and elections officer and was a member of the hiring committee. She also spent time as deputy chief of the District’s Financial Fraud and Public Corruption Unit and as an Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Force attorney.

Before joining the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Karwan was in private practice for about six years, specializing in securities litigation. She graduated from the College of William and Mary in 1997 and from the University of Connecticut School of Law in 2000.

Karwan replaces William Nardini, who now sits on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit.

Durham was tasked with looking into the origins of the probe into possible collusion between President Donald Trump’s campaign and Russia. The investigation includes looking at actions taken by private actors, Attorney General William Barr said in December 2019.

“He’s not just looking at the FBI,” Barr said. “He’s looking at other agencies and departments and also private actors. So it’s a much broader investigation.”

Durham is also looking at the FBI’s use of Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrants and actions taken by other agencies such as the CIA.

“He is not just looking at the FISA aspect of it. He is looking at all the conduct both before and after the election,” Barr said.

In December, Department of Justice Inspector General Michael Horowitz released his team’s report on the FBI’s use of FISA. Horowitz found that FBI officials made a slew of omissions in applying to spy on Trump campaign associate Carter Page, including purposefully omitting that Page was a CIA asset.

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