Special Counsel John Durham is set to appear before a House committee on Tuesday to potentially provide more details about a report that was highly critical of the FBI’s decision to launch a counterintelligence investigation in the 2016 Trump campaign.
Durham, appointed by then-U.S. Attorney General William Barr during the Trump administration to look into the origins of the probe, will appear before the House Intelligence Committee and the House Judiciary Committee; the Intelligence Committee, however, will meet behind closed doors.
In May 2019, Durham was appointed to investigate “Crossfire Hurricane, the FBI’s 2016 investigation into Trump-Russia collusion, and associated matters.
In December 2020, Barr granted Durham special counsel status to safeguard the investigation during the transition from former President Donald Trump to President Joe Biden.
Last month, Durham concluded his approximately four-year investigation, and the Department of Justice subsequently released a 306-page report containing his findings. The report portrayed a troubling image of an FBI that deviated from its core mission and guiding principles in its pursuit of a partisan investigation targeting Trump.
The New York Post reported:
Durham’s final report, released May 15, declared that the bureau’s probe into whether the Trump campaign conspired with the Kremlin to win the 2016 election was “seriously flawed” and that “the FBI discounted or willfully ignored material information that did not support the narrative of a collusive relationship.”
The special counsel is likely to take heat from both sides when he appears at the Capitol.
Congressional Republicans voiced their indignation and bewilderment regarding the refusal of several pivotal figures in the investigation, such as former FBI Director James Comey, former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, and former FBI counterintelligence chief Peter Strzok, to participate in interviews with Durham.
In addition, they raised concerns about the lack of effort by Durham to legally compel them to provide depositions.
In contrast, Democrats characterized Durham’s report, which did not recommend any new criminal charges, as evidence that the actions of the FBI were not as severe as claimed by Trump and his supporters, The Post noted further.
Still, Durham blasted the FBI’s behavior and procedures in opting to pursue an unprecedented investigation into Trump, a leading presidential candidate at the time, without any real cause to do so.
“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,” his report said.
The Justice Department appointed former FBI director and special counsel Robert Mueller to pick up the investigation early in Trump’s presidency, but after two years and substantial leaks claiming that Trump was likely to be indicted, Mueller ended his probe.
In his report, Durham wrote that the FBI opened the Crossfire Hurricane investigation into Trump’s campaign “based on raw, unanalyzed, and uncorroborated intelligence” while also taking allegations about Trump far more seriously than corruption and mishandling of classified material allegations about former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
“[T]he answer is not the creation of new rules but a renewed fidelity to the old,” Durham wrote. “The promulgation of additional rules and regulations to be learned in yet more training sessions would likely prove to be a fruitless exercise if the FBI’s guiding principles of ‘Fidelity, Bravery and Integrity’ are not engrained in the hearts and minds of those sworn to meet the FBI’ s mission of ‘Protect[ing] the American People and Uphold[ing] the Constitution of the United States.’”
The CIA received information that Clinton agreed to a plot on July 26, 2016, “to stir up a scandal against … Trump by tying him to [Russian President Vladimir] Putin and the Russians’ hacking of the Democratic National Committee.”
Durham criticized the FBI for pursuing that angle, The Post noted.