Special counsel John Durham, in a report released Monday, condemned the conduct of the Justice Department and FBI in investigating Donald Trump for alleged collusion with Russia to win the 2016 election.
“Based on the review of [FBI operation] Crossfire Hurricane and related intelligence activities, we conclude that the [Justice] Department and the FBI failed to uphold their mission of strict fidelity to the law in connection with certain events and activities described in this report,” the Durham report says, as first reported by Fox News.
Crossfire Hurricane is the name of the FBI investigation into Trump and Russia that began during the 2016 campaign and later was taken over by special counsel Robert Mueller, a former FBI director, after Trump became president. Mueller’s team concluded there was no evidence of conspiracy or collusion between Trump or his campaign and Russia.
Trump’s second attorney general, William Barr, appointed Durham—a veteran federal prosecutor from Connecticut who scored convictions in high-profile public corruption and mafia cases—to probe how the investigation of Trump unfolded. In late 2020, Barr appointed Durham as special counsel.
The special counsel’s report, however, “does not recommend any wholesale changes in the guidelines and policies that the [Justice] Department and the FBI now have in place to ensure proper conduct and accountability in how counterintelligence activities are carried out.”
The Durham report notes a
continuing need for the FBI and the [Justice] Department to recognize that lack of analytical rigor, apparent confirmation bias, and an over-willigness to rely on information from individuals connected to political opponents caused investigators to fail to adequately consider alternative hypotheses and to act without appropriate objectivity or restraint in pursuing allegations of collusion or conspiracy between a U.S. political campaign and a foreign power.
Previously, Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz found numerous problems with the Russia investigation in a report issued in 2019.
The new report acknowledges the benefit of hindsight, but says problems should have been clear at the time.
“Although recognizing that in hindsight much is clearer, much of this also seems to have been clear at the time,” the Durham report says. “We therefore believe it is important to examine past conduct to identify shortcomings and improve how the government carries out its most sensitive functions.”
The report notes that investigative leads were based on Democrat-funded opposition research on Trump.
“In particular, there was significant reliance on investigative leads provided or funded (directly or indirectly) by Trump’s political opponents,” the report says. “The [Justice] Department did not adequately examine or question these materials and the motivations of those providing them, even when at about the same time the director the FBI and others learned of significant and potentially contrary intelligence.”
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