With scathing criticism of the FBI but a scant court record, a special prosecutor has concluded his four-year investigation into potential FBI misconduct in its inquiry into connections between Russia and Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign.
However, he fell far short of the former president’s prediction that he would unearth the “crime of the century.”
The special counsel’s long-awaited report, released on Monday, resulted from a probe that Trump and his friends had promised would reveal serious misconduct by law enforcement and intelligence personnel.
Instead, Durham’s search produced disappointing outcomes, with prosecutors obtaining a guilty plea from an obscure FBI employee but losing the only two criminal cases they brought to trial.
The almost 300-page report lists the mistakes Durham claims the FBI and Justice Department made during a politically explosive investigation into whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russia to influence the 2016 election.
The FBI was condemned for starting a full-fledged investigation based on “raw, unanalyzed, and uncorroborated intelligence,” the speed at which it did so was deemed out of the ordinary. Additionally, it said that as the investigation moved forward, investigators frequently used “confirmation bias,” dismissing or explaining away data that contradicted their thesis of a Trump-Russia conspiracy.
The report claimed it was “extremely troubling” that the FBI had “failed to critically analyze information that ran counter to the narrative of a Trump/Russia collusive relationship” evident throughout Crossfire Hurricane. The investigation was given the codename “Crossfire Hurricane” by the FBI.
Although Durham’s report is brutally critical of the FBI, its impact is likely muted by Durham’s patchy prosecutorial history and the fact that the Justice Department inspector general has already thoroughly investigated many of the seven-year-old instances it describes.
Additionally, the FBI has long since made several corrections public. Durham’s findings, though, are expected to increase FBI scrutiny when Trump is running for president once more and provide new material for congressional Republicans criticizing the bureau.
In a letter to Durham that was made public, the FBI detailed the adjustments it had made, such as procedures to assure the accuracy of covert surveillance programs used to listen in on alleged terrorists and spies.
Also emphasized was the report’s emphasis on previous leadership.
“The errors noted in the report could have been avoided in 2016 if those measures had been in place.
This study highlights the necessity of ensuring that the FBI continues to carry out its duties with the rigor, objectivity, and professionalism that the American people rightfully demand.
Durham, a former U.S. Attorney in Connecticut, was chosen by Trump’s attorney general, William Barr, in 2019, not long after special counsel Robert Mueller finished looking into potential collusion between the 2016 Trump campaign and foreign powers.
A half-dozen Trump associates were found guilty due to the Mueller investigation, which led to about thirty criminal charges overall and the finding that Russia interfered on the Trump campaign’s behalf and that the campaign appreciated the assistance.
However, Mueller’s team did not discover that they had planned to influence the election outcome, giving the door for the investigation’s detractors, including Barr, to claim that it had been started without a solid foundation.
After the FBI discovered via an Australian diplomat that a member of the Trump campaign named George Papadopoulos had claimed to be aware of “dirt” that the Russians had on Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton in the form of hacked emails, the original Russia investigation was launched in July 2016.
However, details over the ensuing months exposed flaws in the investigation, including mistakes and omissions in the Justice Department’s request to listen in on Carter Page, a former Trump campaign adviser, as well as the FBI’s reliance on a dossier of unverified or debunked information put together by a British ex-spy, Christopher Steele.
Durham’s team investigated these errors in-depth and discovered that the probes overlooked or downplayed what they claimed to be exculpatory information that Trump associates had given to FBI confidential informants, as well as that the investigations failed to corroborate a “single substantive allegation” in the so-called Steele dossier.
Durham’s task during the early stages of the Trump-Russia investigation was to examine executive actions and spot any potential wrongdoing carefully.
Trump applauded Durham’s appointment, saying in a 2019 Fox News interview that Durham was “supposed to be the smartest and the best.”
He and his supporters hoped it would reveal a “deep state” conspiracy within the top echelons of the FBI and other agencies to thwart Trump’s presidency and candidacy.
After casting a wide net, Durham and his team interviewed top FBI, Justice Department, and CIA officials. Trump urged the Australian prime minister and other world leaders to assist with the investigation as he and Barr flew to Italy to meet with government representatives during his first year on the job.
Trump was frustrated with the investigation’s sluggish progress and chastised Barr before he left office for failing to divulge the report’s whereabouts. Only one criminal case had been filed by the conclusion of the Trump administration, but the abrupt resignation of Durham’s top deputy in the closing months of the president’s term prompted concerns about the team’s coordination.
Contrary to expectations, Durham’s team did not bring any charges against high government officials. A former FBI lawyer admitted to changing an email the agency used to request permission to spy on a former Trump campaign adviser.
Two other defendants, a Clinton campaign attorney, and a Russian-American think tank expert, were acquitted of all charges.