On June 21, John Durham, Special Counsel, stood before the House Judiciary Committee. The focus was his game-changing report that unveiled the truth after he painstakingly worked behind the scenes for four years.
The groundbreaking report, unveiled on May 15, was hailed by Republicans as the much-needed affirmation of former President Donald Trump’s persistent allegations of being unjustly pursued by the FBI and various federal agencies. These entities were embroiled in investigating the claims of Trump’s alleged collusion with Russia during the 2016 presidential election.
Durham’s report unveiled the final seal on a tumultuous seven-year journey marked by examinations, inquiries, and allegations against Trump and his associates. This saga began in 2016 after WikiLeaks’ explosive release of thousands of emails about then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the Democratic National Committee (DNC).
An inquiry into Trump and his circle commenced on July 31, 2016, centering on the possible role of George Papadopoulos, a Trump associate, in the WikiLeaks document release. This inquiry, known as Crossfire Hurricane, sought to uncover any connection between the Trump campaign and the leak, which resulted from a conversation Papadopoulos had with an Australian official in London earlier that year.
Following the initial FBI inquiry, the baton was passed to Special Counsel Robert Mueller, ex-FBI director. Mueller’s report on April 18, 2019, concluded there was no proof that the Trump campaign conspired with the Russian government in any election-altering activities.
Subsequently, former Attorney General William Barr appointed Durham to probe the origins of the Crossfire Hurricane and the investigation into Trump’s associates. Durham’s report emphatically vindicated Trump’s repeated insistence that the Russian investigation was a hoax.
The narrative that Trump conspired with Russia was traced back to Clinton, seen as an attempt to distract from the fallout of her email scandal where she had mishandled classified government information on a private server.
Durham highlighted the FBI’s approach to intelligence from a reliable foreign source. This intelligence indicated Clinton’s campaign planned to divert attention from her email scandal by tying Trump to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The investigation triggered by the Clinton campaign later proved baseless, costing taxpayers approximately $32 million. Durham criticized the FBI inquiry as “seriously deficient” and biased in its determination to scrutinize Trump and his allies.
Key figures, including former Attorney General Loretta Lynch, ex-FBI Director James Comey, and DNC operative Charles Dolan, were notably absent from Durham’s interviews, raising eyebrows among Republicans. These individuals played integral roles in the Trump investigation, with Dolan directly implicated in numerous claims within the discredited Steele dossier.
Durham’s decision to prosecute only three individuals despite his harsh critique of the investigation process may also be a point of contention among Republicans. Kevin Clinesmith, a former FBI lawyer, was the only one convicted. He admitted to altering an email to secure a FISA warrant against a Trump associate.
Durham’s report argues that bad judgment alone doesn’t always constitute a crime but expresses concern about the possible perception of partisanship in certain prosecutions.
Durham’s report did not recommend sweeping changes in existing guidelines and policies. Still, it urged a renewed fidelity to existing laws instead. The news comes when Republican dissatisfaction with the FBI and DOJ is at an all-time high, with many feeling these institutions have been weaponized against conservatives.
As the House readies to consider renewing the FISA program later this year, Republicans may press Durham on potential reforms absent in his report, considering its significance to Crossfire Hurricane.