WASHINGTON — The special counsel who spent four years investigating the Trump-Russia investigation has accused the FBI of negligence in opening the investigation based on vague and insufficient information in a comprehensive 300 page report made public on Monday.
Special counsel John Durham, appointed by then-Attorney General Bill Barr to examine the origins and conduct of the investigation into whether Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign colluded with Russia, criticized the FBI at length in the report.
«The Department (of Justice) and the FBI failed in their important mission of strict adherence to the law,» the conclusions section of Durham’s report reads. “Senior FBI personnel displayed a serious lack of analytical rigor with respect to information they received, especially information received from individuals or entities with political affiliations.”
The FBI, in response to the report, indicated that the missteps identified by Durham have already been addressed.
“The conduct in 2016 and 2017 that special counsel Durham examined was the reason that current FBI leadership has already implemented dozens of corrective actions, which have now been in place for some time,” the statement said. “Had those reforms been in place in 2016, the missteps identified in the report could have been avoided. This report reinforces the importance of ensuring that the FBI continues to do its job with the rigor, objectivity, and professionalism that the American people deserve and rightly expect.»
Durham lost the only two lawsuits it took to court. But the report released Monday appeared to be an appeal to the court of public opinion, an argument that Trump was treated unfairly by FBI officials who were quick to unleash the bureau’s investigative powers.
Trump allies have been eager to see the report, arguing that Durham would make clear what the former president has been saying all along: that his campaign did nothing wrong, but that the Obama administration was using the power of the federal government. to try to influence the 2016 elections.
«WOW! After extensive investigation, Special Counsel John Durham concludes that the FBI should never have launched the Trump-Russia investigation. In other words, the American public was ripped off, just as they are being ripped off now by those who don’t they want to see GREATNESS for AMERICA!» Trump wrote in a post on his Truth Social platform after the report came out.
Durham’s core conclusions were previously contradicted by a 2019 report from the Justice Department’s internal watchdog, which found that while the FBI made a number of mistakes, the decision to open the Trump Russia investigation was justified as a matter of fact. of law and policy, and was not tainted by any evidence of political bias.
Durham, who issued a statement disagreeing with the Justice Department inspector general’s report at the time, expanded on his dissent in the report released Monday.
Durham, a former federal prosecutor in Connecticut, submitted his report Friday to Attorney General Merrick Garland, who read it over the weekend and ordered it released without change, according to a Justice Department spokesman.
Durham’s report takes a detailed look at various aspects of the now infamous FBI investigation, codenamed «Crossfire Hurricane,» which led to the appointment of special counsel Robert Mueller. Mueller ultimately did not establish any coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia, but did find a number of contacts between campaign officials and the Russians and a campaign that was willing and eager to accept help from Moscow. A bipartisan Senate intelligence committee report he went further, saying that the Trump campaign posed a counterintelligence risk to the United States by opening itself up to foreign influence.
But Durham argues that the FBI acted too hastily when it opened the Crossfire Hurricane investigation in July 2016, after a Trump campaign aide told an Australian diplomat that the Trump campaign had received an offer from Russia to help Trump by divulging damaging information about his opponent. Democrat Hillary Clinton.
«The objective facts show that the FBI’s handling of important aspects of the Crossfire Hurricane matter was seriously flawed,» the report said. “Some FBI employees who were interviewed by our investigators reported that they had significant reservations about aspects of Crossfire Hurricane and tried to convey their concerns to their superiors. Others had concerns about the investigation but did not express their concerns. In some cases, nothing was said because of the feeling that there had to be more compelling information in the possession of those closest to the decision-making center of the case than what had been released to them.»
«Importantly, if the actors in Crossfire Hurricane had faithfully followed their own principles regarding objectivity and integrity, there were clear opportunities to have avoided mistakes and avoided harm resulting from their adoption of seriously flawed information that did not were able to adequately analyze and assess,» the report added.
Durham’s investigation found that, at the time, neither the FBI nor the CIA had intelligence to suggest an inappropriate relationship between Trump and Russia. But he also pointed out that by then it was known that Russian intelligence had hacked into the Democrats, and Trump had made the infamous comment of him publicly pleading with Russia to find the missing emails on a server used by Clinton.
Durham says the FBI opened a full counterintelligence investigation of the Trump campaign «based on raw and uncorroborated information,» and the key agent involved in the decision, Peter Strzok, was later found to have criticized Trump in emails. private text to a partner.
Durham says the FBI took a very different approach with other counterintelligence matters that had the potential to affect the election. For example, when it learned that an unnamed foreign government was trying to influence the Clinton campaign with political contributions, the FBI moved cautiously, ultimately providing «defensive briefings» on specific facts, warning officials of the Clinton campaign, something the FBI chose not to do with Trump.
Durham’s report also discusses intelligence collected in 2016 that suggested the Russian government believed Clinton had a plan to vilify Trump «by causing a scandal alleging interference by Russian security services.» Durham seems to suggest that the intelligence information should have given the FBI pause in its pursuit of allegations related to the Trump campaign. A former top intelligence official told NBC News that the intelligence in question was never verified.
While the report is the first time Durham has reached any sweeping conclusions, many of the lengthy documents summarize the known story, including examining the veracity of the so-called dossier compiled by former British intelligence agent Christopher Steele, in which the The FBI relied in part to obtain a national security warrant to monitor Trump aide Carter Page.
The FBI was unable to corroborate most of the dossier, which appeared to have been compiled in large part by a Russian named Igor Danchenko.
Durham indicted Danchenko on charges of lying to the FBI, but a jury acquitted him. Another jury acquitted Michael Sussmann, a lawyer Durham also accused of lying.
Durham obtained a guilty plea from an FBI lawyer, Kevin Clinesmith, who admitted to forging a national security warrant request for Page. Clinesmith was granted probation and his attorney’s license was suspended for one year. The FBI also reviewed the way it handles FISA warrants.