The report by Special Counsel John H. Durham, which is unclassified and reveals the FBI’s misbehavior in the Crossfire Hurricane investigation – the investigation of the Trump-Russia hoax – confirms that there was no basis to open an investigation.
Personnel from the agencies ignored the protocols designed to prevent abuse, unjustified investigations, and in particular politically biased investigations which could influence the outcome of an electoral. They treated the claims against the Clinton campaign with much greater caution and favor than those against the Trump campaign.
Durham concludes that “confirmation biased” is the tendency for FBI personnel to accept unsubstantiated statements because they have “pronounced hostility toward Trump”.
The FBI ignored or discounted material information which did not support the narrative that Trump and Russia were in collusion…An objective, honest assessment…should’ve caused the FBI not only to question the prediction for Crossfire Hurricane but also to consider whether it was being manipulated to serve political or other reasons. It did not.
Durham’s findings confirm those of the FBI Inspection Division’s report, which stated that FBI investigators had “repeatedly dismissed or explained away evidence that was contrary to the Trump campaign’s theory that it conspired with Russia… It appeared that…there were a series of assuming malicious intent.”
It was a mistake that the FBI made not to check with its “own experienced Russian analyst” who could have told the investigators they did not know “if Trump had any involvement with Russian leadership officials.” The FBI also failed to consult with other intelligence analysts from “the CIA NSA and Department of State.”
The Durham report’s findings about how badly the FBI handled the Crossfire Hurricane case are damaging to the agency’s reputation as a law-enforcement agency. These reports come on top the recent damaging reports from a number of whistleblowers who have exposed the bias and lack of professionalism within the FBI’s ranks and leadership. This includes everything from the Hunter Biden Investigation to the possible use of informants in Catholic Churches.
Its bungling of Crossfire Hurricane had monumental consequences. The agency destroyed the careers and lives of innocent people like Carter Page. It also caused a taxpayer-funded, multimillion dollar investigation by Special counsel Robert Mueller, which in many ways crippled Trump’s administration for much of his presidential term.
Durham conducted a “broad” and “extensive” investigation that included 480 interviews, and a review of over six million pages. Some of those witnesses only provided information “under a subpoena or grant of immunity,” while others who “had important and relevant information…refused to be interviewed or to otherwise cooperate.” The latter included one of the chief organizers of this miscarriage of justice, Peter Strzok, the former deputy assistant director of the FBI’s Counterintelligence Division, who “declined to be interviewed” about his role in the Crossfire Hurricane investigation according to a footnote on page 48 of the report.
Durham takes 306 pages just to list all the errors, gaffes, and mistakes made by FBI agents. This included:
Overlooking the “complete lack of intelligence community information that corroborated” the hypothesis on which the Crossfire Hurricane Investigation was predicated;
The investigation targets “during recorded telephone calls” may have provided “significant exculpatory” information.
Failure to “pursue investigation leads that were inconsistent” with the theory they had;
Ignoring that the FBI investigators were “never able to corroborate any substantive allegation” in the Steele dossier, which was the major justification for this investigation.
Failure to even “examine – let alone resolve – serious counterespionage questions surrounding” Igor Danchenko, the main source of the Steele dossier — a dossier which was paid for and commissioned by the Clinton campaign for political disinformation.
The FISA applications were “only partially and sometimes misleadingly” filled out and “other highly relevant information was withheld” which “cast doubt on the probable cause assertions of the federal judges” who approved the electronic surveillance on Trump campaign officials.
They ignored the information they received on “Charles Dolan,” a longtime Democratic activist with close ties to the Clintons, who had also significant ties with Russian government figures that would appear in Steele’s reporting. And, they never interviewed him.
The FBI’s intelligence report, “Basically disregarding the Clinton Intelligence Plan,” was received almost at the same time that the Crossfire Hurricane probe began. It stated that Hillary Clinton approved a plan to “stir up a controversy against” Trump by “tying him to Putin” and “Russian hacking” of the Democratic National Committee as a means to “distract the public from the use of her private mail server”.
Durham doesn’t make a definitive decision about the existence of such a conspiracy. Clinton and other officials from her campaign deny it. Durham’s report points out, however, that contemporaneous reports about a Clinton Intelligence Plan are “highly pertinent” because the FBI was supposed to have looked at “whether an element or component of this plan involved intentionally providing knowingly false or misleading information to other agencies or the FBI” regarding Trump-Russian collusion.
This intelligence was “arguably highly relevant and exculpatory”, because it suggested that the materials, like the Steele dossier created by contractors for the campaign by contractors, were part of a “political effort” to smear an opponent, and to use resources of federal law enforcement and intelligence agencies to support a specific political goal.
The FBI leadership “essentially ignored” the intelligence provided by President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden.
Durham compares the handling the Trump investigation to the FBI’s failure to investigate claims of attempted “foreign influence” on the Clinton campaign through “foreign interest” contributions in exchange for “protection of a foreign country’s interests should Clinton become President.”
FBI leadership quickly limited the preliminary investigation activities that were conducted over Foundation claims. Durham told a witness that James Comey, the FBI director, had ordered his office to “cease and cease” its investigation of the Foundation due to an undefined “counterintelligence concern.”
Durham stated that the FBI and Department of Justice seemed to have legitimate concerns regarding the Foundation investigation taking place so close to the presidential election, but “it did not appear that the Department or FBI expressed similar concerns regarding the Crossfire Hurricane Investigation.” Durham also noted that only one month after Crossfire Hurricane was launched, a senior law enforcement official publicly confirmed the investigation through an article written by Michael Isikoff.
The FBI did not extend the same courtesy to the Trump campaign. While the FBI provided a defensive briefing to the Clinton Campaign to let them know that they could be the target of a hostile foreign government, it did so to the Clinton Campaign. The FBI official who tried to justify this said that they did not know which members of the Trump campaign were involved. However, the FBI faced a similar issue with the Clinton Campaign. The FBI also conducted defensive briefings for the Clinton campaign in the investigation, a probe based on corroborated evidence, but did not do so for the Trump campaign.
The British refused to provide any further assistance when asked by the FBI in Washington, in the fall 2016, during a meeting with British Intelligence. The FBI liaison told Durham’s Office that the British had “finally had enough”, and that there was “no [expletive] chance in hell” that they would do it.
The public may wonder why Durham has not brought more criminal charges, given all the misbehavior and incompetence of law enforcement officials. He explains that the burden of proof for the government is high under our criminal laws, and constitutional protections, to prove all elements of a crime “beyond reasonable doubt.” Moreover, “a person’s bad judgement, even horribly poor judgment, by itself, is not a crime.”
It is not illegal to engage in unethical or unseemly conduct during a political campaign, but it can be criminalized. Government prosecutors must prove that a person has a criminal intent and not just negligence or recklessness before their fellow citizens are able to find them guilty.
Durham’s judgment is not to be faulted, as he is right about these principles. Durham has written an in-depth, thorough report that lays the foundation for any disciplinary action against government employees involved in the mishandling Crossfire Hurricane.
Durham spends only one last, short page discussing the reforms that are needed at the FBI. Congress should investigate and hold hearings to determine what reforms will be needed to prevent this abuse from the FBI, the nation’s most powerful law enforcement agency.
A final note. It is unfortunate that, with the help of media supporters and the FBI’s Keystone Cops, the Clinton campaign, its law firm and their inept or nefarious missteps (however you choose to describe it) got away with some of the most dirty and unethical political tricks ever committed in American history.
This is a serious problem that may take a long time to solve.