(CNN)The Ukraine allegations that President Donald Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani is providing to the Justice Department are being vetted by investigators in the US Attorney’s Office in Pittsburgh, two US law enforcement officials said.
The officials told CNN that the Pittsburgh office has expertise on Russia and its cyber operations, including the 2016 disinformation campaign the Russians carried out.
A spokeswoman for the US attorney’s office in Pittsburgh declined to comment.
On Monday, Attorney General William Barr confirmed that the Justice Department has been receiving information from Giuliani about his operation in Ukraine, where Giuliani has been seeking dirt on former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden. The attorney general said the Justice Department has an “obligation to have an open door to anybody who wishes to provide us information that they think is relevant” but expressed skepticism about the reporting, noting that Ukraine can be a dubious source.
Barr said the Justice Department has put in place special precautions to ensure that Giuliani’s information is “carefully scrutinized.”
But Democrats have decried the Justice Department’s arrangement with Giuliani, questioning the situation over Barr’s connection to the President’s own dealings in Ukraine and the fact that two Giuliani associates who worked in Ukraine, Igor Fruman and Lev Parnas, were indicted on campaign finance charges last year.
The Justice Department’s process for Giuliani to provide Ukraine information is one of several DOJ actions facing scrutiny for political influence involving the President. On Tuesday, Justice Department officials said they were backing away from the request that Trump confidante Roger Stone receive up to nine years in prison, just hours after Trump tweeted attacking the sentencing recommendation from prosecutors from the US Attorney’s office in Washington.
Sen. Richard Blumenthal, a Connecticut Democrat, called Giuliani’s line into the Justice Department “chilling” and “extraordinary dangerous.”
“This kind of back channel for the President’s personal attorney, a political operative ought to … deeply alarm and frighten America because it in essence, weaponizes law enforcement and the Department of Justice as a political tool,” Blumenthal said.
Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois, the No. 2 Senate Democrat, said he hoped that “sober minds” at the Justice Department would keep the arrangement from gettin