Special counsel John Durham has finally released a much-anticipated report that strongly criticizes the FBI’s investigation into the 2016 Trump campaign. According to the report, the FBI relied on “raw, unanalyzed, and uncorroborated intelligence,” fueling the ongoing partisan debate surrounding potential politicization within the FBI and the Justice Department.
Former President Donald Trump’s attorney general, William P. Barr, appointed Durham in 2019 to reexamine the efforts made by government agents in uncovering possible connections between the Trump presidential campaign and Russian interference in the election. The appointment of Durham, essentially an investigator tasked with reinvestigating the initial investigators, received substantial criticism from present and former law enforcement officials.
The conclusive report from special counsel John Durham was unveiled on Monday, presenting a critical examination of the FBI’s choice to initiate a comprehensive probe into potential ties between Donald Trump’s campaign and Russia in the 2016 election.#DurhamReport #Durham #Trump pic.twitter.com/bGzGcxZmUB
— News Live (@NewsLiveFree) May 17, 2023
Nearly four years after the commencement of Durham’s assignment, the report’s release is likely to be met with criticism from Democrats who may view it as the conclusion of a partisan endeavor. On the other hand, GOP will need to grapple with the implications of an extensively publicized investigation that has incurred over $6.5 million for taxpayers yet failed to result in any criminal convictions.
Despite Trump’s prior anticipation that Durham would uncover the “crime of the century,” he claimed victory on Monday through a social media post, suggesting that the report revealed a scam perpetrated on the American public, akin to the ongoing deception orchestrated by those who oppose the pursuit of greatness for America.
Durham Report Highlights Contrasting Treatment of Trump and Clinton Campaigns by the FBI
The recently released Durham report sheds new light on the FBI’s handling of the Trump and Clinton campaigns investigations. While some of the FBI’s actions had previously been addressed in a 2019 report by the Justice Department’s inspector general, which didn’t uncover evidence of intentional misconduct, the Durham report takes a more critical stance.
The report highlights that although the FBI alerted Clinton’s team about potential foreign influence, no similar defensive briefing was provided to the Trump campaign before initiating the investigation. This differential treatment of the two campaigns forms a central aspect of the report’s findings. It argues that the FBI displayed a sense of urgency in probing the Trump campaign under the codename “Crossfire Hurricane” while proceeding cautiously with allegations about then-Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.
According to Durham’s report, the FBI’s handling of the case was deemed “seriously deficient,” leading to significant damage to the agency’s reputation. The report states that this failure could have been avoided if FBI personnel had not embraced “seriously flawed information” and had instead adhered to their principles of objectivity and integrity.
Durham points to instances of confirmation bias within the FBI, such as proceeding with the investigation despite a lack of corroborating information from the Intelligence Community, disregarding exonerating evidence related to key suspects, and failing to substantiate any significant allegations from the dossier compiled by former British spy Christopher Steele regarding Trump. These examples underscore the report’s criticism of the FBI’s case handling.
Durham’s Special Counsel Appointment and Mixed Results of the Police
The appointment of Durham as a special counsel by Barr was highly unusual, as he was essentially tasked with investigating the work conducted by the prior special counsel, Rebert S. Mueller III. However, Durham’s probe yielded limited success in court proceedings. Two individuals who faced charges were ultimately found not guilty, while a former FBI lawyer pleaded guilty to tampering with an email to assist a colleague in preparing a court application for surveillance of a Trump campaign adviser.
Following the second acquittal, calls emerged from Democrats and certain legal professionals urging the DOJ to close Durham’s office, deeming it a waste of taxpayer funds and time. The report, released on Monday, revealed that Durham and his team conducted an extensive investigation, including over 480 interviews, examination of more than one million documents, execution of seven search warrants, and insurance of over 190 subpoenas with the assistance of a grand jury.
The report concluded with a concise recommendation for the FBI to establish a dedicated role within the organization – a position held by an FBI agent or lawyer – to oversee politically sensitive investigations. This individual would be responsible for meticulously scrutinizing every aspect of such investigations, ensuring that officials have adhered to the regulations governing applications to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISA), which handles matters concerning national security.
Following the inspector general’s critical report in 2019, FBI Director Christopher A. Wray introduced numerous changes within the agency. Given the intense political debates surrounding the FBI since the 2016 election, these reforms were implemented to address concerns and enhance operational integrity.
Durham Report Sent to Attorney General and Congress, No Classified Information Included
Special Counsel Durham suis report to Attorney General Merrick Garland on Friday. The senior FBI officials in charge of the Crossfire Hurricane investigation departed from the agency several years ago. However, they have consistently maintained that the bureau was responsible for investigating the allegations concerning the Trump campaign.
Subsequently, Garland shared the report with key Senate and House judiciary committee members on Monday afternoon, as confirmed by a Justice Department official. Notably, the report does not contain classified information, and Garland assured lawmakers that he released the report without any additional edits, redactions, or modifications. While a classified appendix spanning 29 pages was not provided to Congress, Garland expressed his willingness to arrange for members to have access to it for review.
In response to the report, the FBI issued a statement acknowledging the scrutiny of the conduct investigated by Durham during the years 2016 and 2017. The FBI emphasized that the current leadership has already implemented numerous corrective measures, which have been in effect for a significant period.
The statement further noted that had these reforms been in place in 2016, the identified missteps highlighted in the report could have been prevented. The FBI underscores the significance of maintaining the agency’s commitment to conducting its work with the utmost diligence, objectivity, and professionalism, in line with the expectations and rightful demands of the American people.
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