What we learned from the Durham report – too little, too late

By Joseph Farah

Special Counsel John Durham finally released a somewhat damning report Monday after more than three years investigating the Russia collusion probe, declaring the FBI had no verified intelligence or evidence when it opened up the Crossfire Hurricane probe of President Donald Trump’s campaign in the summer of 2016.

You will recall that Durham was named a special counsel by Attorney General Bill Barr. It was disappointing that the report took so long to produce. A lot of water under the bridge, one might say. But here it is after a long wait.

“Neither U.S. law enforcement nor the Intelligence Community appears to have possessed any actual evidence of collusion in their holdings at the commencement of the Crossfire Hurricane investigation,” Durham wrote in a 300-plus page report sent to Congress.

He faulted the FBI and Justice Department in muted terms.

“Based on the review of Crossfire Hurricane and related intelligence activities, we concluded the Department and the FBI failed to uphold their important mission of strict fidelity to the law in connection with certain events and activities described in this report,” Durham wrote. “The FBI personnel also repeatedly disregarded important requirements when they continued to seek renewals of that FISA surveillance while acknowledging – both then and in hindsight – that they did not genuinely believe there was probable cause to believe that the target was knowingly engaged in clandestine intelligence activities on behalf of foreign power.”

Durham specifically faulted the FBI for relying on evidence from Hillary Clinton’s campaign, including the Steele dossier, saying leadership lacked the necessary distrust of politically motivated allegations.

“Our investigation also revealed that senior FBI personnel displayed a serious lack of analytical rigor towards the information that they received, especially information received from politically affiliated persons and entities. This information in part triggered and sustained Crossfire Hurricane and contributed to the subsequent need for Special Counsel Mueller’s investigation,” he wrote. “In particular, there was significant reliance on investigative leads provided or funded (directly or indirectly) by Trump’s political opponents. The Department did not adequately examine or question these materials and the motivations of those providing them, even when at about the same time the Director of the FBI and others learned of significant and potentially contrary intelligence.”

Take note that Durham did point out that the FBI portrayed a dual system of justice since it never opened a counterintelligence probe of Clinton’s campaign despite receiving intelligence she had authorized a dirty trick to paint Trump as a stooge for Vladimir Putin to impact the outcome of the election.

“The FBl’s actions with respect to other highly significant intelligence it received from a trusted foreign source pointing to a Clinton campaign plan to vilify Trump by tying him to Vladimir Putin so as to divert attention from her own concerns relating to her use of a private email server,” the report concluded.

“Unlike the FBI’s opening of a full investigation of unknown members of the Trump campaign based on raw, uncorroborated information, in this separate matter involving a purported Clinton campaign plan, the FBI never opened any type of inquiry, issued any taskings, employed any analytical personnel, or produced any analytical products in connection with the information. This lack of action was despite the fact that the significance of the Clinton plan intelligence was such as to have prompted the Director of the CIA to brief the President, Vice President, Attorney General, Director of the FBI, and other senior government officials about its content within days of its receipt,” Durham added. “It was also of enough importance for the CIA to send a formal written referral memorandum to Director Comey and the Deputy Assistant Director of the FBI’s Counterintelligence Division, Peter Strzok, for their consideration and action.”

The special counsel, however, did not recommend any new charges against individuals or “wholesale changes” about how the FBI handles politically charged investigations, despite strongly criticizing the agency’s behavior.

Attorney General Merrick Garland sent Durham’s report to lawmakers and released the report on Monday. In a letter to Congress accompanying the report, Garland said, “Special Counsel Durham’s unclassified report is attached in full as submitted to me, without any additions, redactions, or other modifications.”

Durham only secured one conviction over the course of the probe: the guilty plea of a low-level FBI lawyer, Kevin Clinesmith, who avoided jail after admitting to doctoring an email about a surveillance warrant. Durham’s other two prosecutions ended with acquittals.

It was hardly taking the torch to the “Deep State.”

The report was also critical of the Steele Dossier, an explosive document that had been used by the FBI to bolster its case for probable cause to secure surveillance warrants against a former Trump campaign adviser. The dossier contained unverified allegations about Trump’s connections to Russia, including alleged business dealings, rumors of lurid trysts in Moscow and claims that his campaign collaborated with the Kremlin in 2016.

Durham’s report is somewhat disappointing – but you can’t expect a revolution by lawyers.

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