The Key Detail That’s Found in Every Investigation About Trump or the 2016 Election
By Matt Vespa | Townhall.com
AP Photo/Charles Krupa
The Durham Report is here, and many intelligence and law enforcement officials should prepare to be yanked before numerous House committees to answer for the Russian collusion hoax. It’s official: Trump was right. Half the country knew for years that this was a wild goose chase, super-charged by the Justice Department’s overt bias against Donald Trump. CNN’s Jake Tapper didn’t sugarcoat it: the findings of Special Counsel John Durham are devastating to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and it exonerates the former president. The actions the bureau and others performed constitute the ‘deep state’ operations against the former president that we all knew were true. The FBI slow-walked the Clinton email probe but executed a headlong charge in the one targeting Mr. Trump, which hoped to peg him as a Kremlin agent.
In the process, the credibility of the FBI, our preeminent law enforcement and domestic intelligence agency that prided itself as an objective, professional, and apolitical institution, has been wrecked. The history of abuse and overreach throughout this investigation is epic, with new details showing that the FBI had evidence that the Steele Dossier could be Russian disinformation, which it was, but withheld disclosing that to keep the spy warrants against those in Trump’s orbit operational. Bias being a motivation, which Durham highlighted, isn’t new. In fact, the basis for the core of the report was already previewed to us with the Horowitz report in 2018.
Department of Justice Inspector General Michael Horowitz exposed the heart of what was driving the FBI during the 2016 election, specifically about the Clinton email probe, albeit in elliptical language; lord knows how many lawyers overlooked his report. At the time, the issue of bias was front and center since disgraced former FBI Agent Peter Strzok and his mistress, Lisa Page, an FBI attorney, was exposed for not having just an extramarital tryst but tens of thousands of text messages, virtually all of them anti-Trump. Strzok was a top counterintelligence agent for the FBI; he signed off on the spy operation against the Trump campaign—Crossfire Hurricane—and was only removed from Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team when the relationship was revealed. He was demoted to the human resources department of the FBI before he was fired.
At the time, the media zeroed in on Horowitz, saying that there was no evidence of bias that determined the course of the investigations during the 2016 election. Translation: The FBI did its job; there’s nothing to see here. It was Wall Street Journal’s Kimberley Strassel who dissected the semi-legalese embedded within Horowitz’s findings.
Mr. Paul Combetta is the person who deleted the Clinton emails that were under subpoena. Strassel wrote:
…the bias is everywhere. It’s in the texts between Peter Strzok and Lisa Page, and those of three other employees who are routinely “hostile” to Candidate Trump…It’s in a message from an unnamed agent in November 2016 who writes that although the FBI found Clinton aide Huma Abedin had “lied,” it doesn’t matter since “no one at DOJ is going to prosecute.” To which a second agent replies. “Rog—noone is going to pros[ecute] even if we find unique classified.”
It’s in the Justice Department’s decision to cut deals with Mrs. Clinton and her staff and shelter them from a grand jury. And to agree to limitations in searching for and in devices. And in immunity agreements.
Snippets and previews of the Durham report’s conclusions were littered all over throughout the Trump years. It’s now just compiled into one damning conclusion that threads all the FBI’s biases, incompetence, corruption, and malfeasance into one condensed account. This should lead to more subpoenas from House Republicans being issued to the principal actors in this production, and the inquiries shouldn’t stop until someone goes to jail.
FBI, DOJ’s Trump-Russia ‘collusion’ probe was ‘seriously flawed,’ no basis in evidence when opened: Durham
By Samuel Chamberlain and Steven Nelson | New York Post
The FBI and DOJ’s probe long focused on whether former President Donald Trump had colluded with Russia to defeat Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election. – REUTERS
The FBI investigation of former President Donald Trump’s alleged collusion with Russia in 2016 was “seriously flawed” and had no basis in evidence, special counsel John Durham said in a report released Monday.
Durham concluded his four-year review with a scathing indictment of official bias in the probe, which fueled Pulitzer Prize-winning coverage of Trump’s theorized conspiracy with the Kremlin to win the White House.
“It is the Office’s assessment that the FBI discounted or willfully ignored material information that did not support the narrative of a collusive relationship between Trump and Russia,” Durham wrote.
“Similarly, the FBI Inspection Division Report says that the investigators ‘repeatedly ignore[d] or explain[ed] away evidence contrary to the theory the Trump campaign… had conspired with Russia… It appeared that … there was a pattern of assuming nefarious intent,’” he added.
“An objective and honest assessment of these strands of information should have caused the FBI to question not only the predication for [the investigation], but also to reflect on whether the FBI was being manipulated for political or other purposes. Unfortunately, it did not.”
Durham, the former Connecticut US attorney who was tapped to lead the review in 2019 by then-Attorney General Bill Barr, dug deep into the origins of Operation Crossfire Hurricane, but his final report didn’t urge new criminal prosecutions.
The FBI’s leak-ridden investigation began in summer 2016 and ultimately dragged on under special counsel Robert Mueller through more than half of Trump’s term in office — with a granular stream of leaks to the media creating the impression of damning evidence mounting against Trump.
Mueller ended his investigation in March 2019 after finding no evidence of a conspiracy between the then-president and Russia.
Trump, 76, celebrated the Durham report, writing on social media, “WOW! After extensive research, Special Counsel John Durham concludes the FBI never should have launched the Trump-Russia Probe! In other words, the American Public was scammed, just as it is being scammed right now by those who don’t want to see GREATNESS for AMERICA!”
Trump is seeking a second non-consecutive term after losing the 2020 election to President Biden and has long contended the Russia investigation was part of a “witch hunt” against him — pointing in the past to evidence of bias such as the fact that FBI official Peter Strzok, who launched the probe, swapped anti-Trump text messages with his mistress, FBI lawyer Lisa Page.
Durham found investigators ignored exculpatory evidence, put too much stock in information provided by Trump’s political opponents, and carried out surveillance without genuinely believing there was probable cause to do so.
“Throughout the duration of Crossfire Hurricane, facts and circumstances that were inconsistent with the premise that Trump and/or persons associated with the Trump campaign were involved in a collusive or conspiratorial relationship with the Russian government were ignored or simply assessed away,” Durham wrote.
In the executive summary of the 306-page report, which was submitted to Attorney General Merrick Garland Friday, and released Monday afternoon, the special counsel wrote that investigators acted “without appropriate objectivity or restraint in pursuing allegations of collusion or conspiracy between a U.S. political campaign and a foreign power.”
However, Durham stopped short of recommending significant reforms of the FBI, writing that “the answer is not the creation of new rules but a renewed fidelity to the old.”
The report further corroborates key details of the saga, including that Hillary Clinton, the 2016 Democratic presidential nominee, was aware her campaign was indirectly paying former British spy Christopher Steele to dig up dirt on supposed Trump-Russia ties.
The Trump-Russia investigation was led by former FBI director and special counsel Robert Mueller. – Stefani Reynolds – CNP
The special counsel also devoted analysis to the FBI’s disinterest in tips that Clinton was smearing Trump as a Russian agent to distract from the release of hacked emails showing she and Democratic Party bosses collaborated to crush Sen. Bernie Sanders’s left-wing candidacy for the Democratic nomination.
The Clinton-financed Steele dossier was used to win secret court orders to surveil then-Trump adviser Carter Page and included a lurid account of Trump paying prostitutes to urinate on a bed at a Moscow hotel, an allegation which gained massive cultural traction after Steele’s dossier was published by Buzzfeed in January 2017.
“[P]rior to the submission of the initial Page FISA application, the FBI in fact knew Steele had told Handling Agent-I that Fusion GPS had been hired by a law firm and that his ultimate client was ‘senior Democrats’ supporting Clinton,” the report said. “Moreover, it knew that Handling Agent-I’s notes of this meeting reflect that, according to Steele, ‘HC’ (Hillary Clinton) was aware of his (Steele’s) reporting.”
The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court wasn’t told, however, that it was being asked to surveil one political campaign based on the say-so of a rival.
An FBI Office of General Counsel unit chief told Durham’s investigators that within the bureau “there was also some concern that Steele had been hired by a law firm on behalf of the Clinton campaign and the DNC to conduct opposition research on Trump.”
But “[d]espite these concerns, the fact that Steele’s information was being financed by the DNC and/or the Clinton campaign was not included in the affidavit’s source description of Steele,” the report notes. “The failure to provide this information to the FISC was a major omission in that the information clearly had the potential to affect the analysis of any bias in Steele’s reporting.”
Igor Danchenko, who was Steele’s “primary sub source” and boasted of contributing “80%” of the “intel” for the dossier, meanwhile, may have been spreading Russian lies, according to the report — which notes Danchenko was once investigated as a possible spy before becoming a FBI informant and getting paid $220,000 by the bureau for the privilege between 2017 and 2020. Despite the bureau using him as a source, Durham notes, the previous espionage investigation was never resolved.
“The failure to identify the primary sub-source early in the investigation’s pursuit of FISA authority prevented the FBI from properly examining the possibility that some or much of the non-open source information contained in Steele’s reporting was Russian disinformation (that wittingly or unwittingly was passed along to Steele), or that the reporting was otherwise not credible,” the report says.
Although the term “Russian disinformation” was used in the report to refer to the Clinton campaign’s work product, it was used around the time of the 2016 election to slam Trump, whose supporters were commonly said by Democrats to have fallen for lies spun by the Kremlin.
Durham’s report also confirms and fleshes out details about the awareness of senior officials, including then-President Barack Obama and the leaders of the FBI and CIA, about a claim that Clinton engineered the controversy around Trump’s possible collusion with the Kremlin.
Clinton allegedly signed off on the plot on July 26, 2016, and the same month “U.S. intelligence agencies obtained insight into Russian intelligence analysis alleging that U.S Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton had approved a campaign plan to stir up a scandal against U.S. Presidential candidate Donald Trump by tying him to Putin and the Russians’ hacking of the Democratic National Committee.”
On August 3, 2016, the allegation was briefed to Obama, then-Vice President Joe Biden, and then-FBI Director James Comey by then-CIA Director John Brennan at an Oval Office meeting, the report confirms.
However, Durham writes that his investigators were “unable to determine precisely when the FBI first obtained any of the details of the Clinton Plan intelligence (other than Director Corney, who attended the August 3, 2016 briefing). It appears, however, that this occurred no later than August 22, 2016. On that date, an FBI cyber analyst… emailed a number of FBI employees, including Supervisory Intelligence Analyst Brian Auten and Section Chief Moffa, the most senior intelligence analysts on the Crossfire Hurricane team, to provide an update on Russian intelligence materials.The email included a summary of the contents of the Clinton Plan intelligence. The Office did not identify any replies or follow-up actions taken by FBI personnel as a result of this email.”
Additional intelligence fingering Hillary Clinton came the following month, Durham wrote.
“In late September 2016, high-ranking U.S. national security officials, including Corney and [intelligence director James] Clapper, received an intelligence product on Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election that included the Clinton Plan intelligence. The Office did not identify any further actions that the CIA or FBI took in response to this intelligence product as it related to the Clinton Plan intelligence,” the report says.
Durham writes that the FBI’s apparent non-investigation of claims about Clinton conjuring up the scandal “stands in sharp contrast to its substantial reliance on the uncorroborated Steele Reports, which at least some FBI personnel appeared to know was likely being funded or promoted by the Clinton campaign.”
The report also noted that neither Trump himself, nor anyone in his campaign received a so-called “defensive briefing” about the possibility that his campaign was being infiltrated by the Kremlin. By contrast, Durham wrote, Clinton got a defensive briefing through her attorneys in late 2015 when the FBI got intel another foreign government was planning to send an agent to contribute to her campaign and “gain influence” with the presumptive Democratic nominee
Clinton denied manufacturing the controversy and blamed Russia for the allegation in a May 2022 interview with the special counsel’s team.
“Clinton stated it was ‘really sad,’ but ‘I get it, you have to go down every rabbit hole,’” the report says. “She said that it ‘looked like Russian disinformation to me; they’re very good at it, you know.’ Clinton advised that she had a lot of plans to win the campaign, and anything that came into the public domain was available to her.”
Durham concluded his investigation, which ended up running longer than the probe that triggered it, without achieving the promise of spectacular accountability for the so-called “deep state” yearned for by 76-year-old Trump’s supporters.
Over Durham’s more than four years of work, he achieved just one guilty plea, with former FBI lawyer Kevin Clinesmith copping in 2020 to falsifying documents in order to get a surveillance warrant against Trump campaign aide Carter Page renewed.
Two other court cases, brought against Danchenko and former Clinton campaign attorney Michael Sussmann ended in swift acquittals.
The FBI acknowledged the Durham report on Monday with a muted mea culpa, saying: “The conduct in 2016 and 2017 that Special Counsel Durham examined was the reason that current FBI leadership already implemented dozens of corrective actions, which have now been in place for some time.
“Had those reforms been in place in 2016, the missteps identified in the report could have been prevented,” the statement added. “This report reinforces the importance of ensuring the FBI continues to do its work with rigor, objectivity, and professionalism the American people deserve and rightly expect.”