A special review of the United States on the conduct of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) found that the agency lacked “actual evidence” to investigate possible collusion between the presidential campaign of Donald Trump in 2016 and Russia.
Monday’s release of Special Counsel John Durham’s report — which ran to more than 300 pages — marked the end of a four-year investigation that was deeply politicized.
Trump has promised that the investigation will reveal the “crime of the century” and prove that he is the recurring subject of a political “witch hunt”, with supporters often saying that the special counsel’s work will testify to the former president of the US.
But critics say Attorney General Bill Barr, who appointed Durham to lead the investigation in 2019, launched the probe to muddy the political waters surrounding Trump.
The report released Monday detailed several missteps by the FBI, including federal investigators relying too heavily on tips provided by Trump’s political opponents to drive their probe.
It further accused the FBI of treating the 2016 Trump probe differently than other politically sensitive investigations, including some involving Trump’s Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton.
“The Department and the FBI failed to uphold their essential mission of strict fidelity to the law in connection with some of the events and activities described in this report,” Durham wrote. “Senior FBI personnel have demonstrated a serious lack of analytical rigor in the information they receive, particularly information from politically connected persons and entities.”
However, the impact of the special counsel’s investigation has been muted.
Last year, two separate juries acquitted two of the defendants Durham tried to prosecute in connection with the investigation. And the report released Monday offered no new charges.
In a case brought by Durham, a jury in Washington, DC, acquitted former Clinton campaign lawyer Michael Sussmann on charges that he lied to the FBI when he met with the bureau in September 2016 to share a tip about possible communications between Trump’s business and a Russian. bank.
Durham’s investigation was dealt another major setback just months ago when a Virginia jury acquitted Russian researcher Igor Danchenko of charges he lied to the FBI.
The allegations related to statements made by Danchenko about sources of information he provided as part of a collection of potentially damaging information against Trump known as the “Steele dossier”.
Durham secured a successful guilty plea against former FBI attorney Kevin Clinesmith, who was singled out for redacting an email used to justify a government wiretap application.
Many of the details of Durham’s investigation were previously revealed in the 2019 inspector general report.
For its part, the FBI’s investigation of Trump, which was later handed over to Special Counsel Robert Mueller, concluded in March 2019 that there were “multiple links” between the Russian government and the Trump campaign.
It also said Russia worked to support Trump and harm Clinton, but there was no evidence of a criminal collusion between the former Republican presidential campaign in 2016 and Moscow.
The FBI has long since announced several corrective actions. The bureau outlined the changes in a letter to Durham on Monday, including measures aimed at ensuring the accuracy of secret surveillance applications to eavesdrop on suspected “terrorists” and spies.
“If reforms were in place in 2016, the errors identified in the report could have been prevented. This report reinforces the importance of ensuring that the FBI continues to do its work with rigor, respect, and professionalism that the American people deserve and rightly expect,” the FBI said in a statement.
It also emphasized that the report focuses on the FBI’s early leadership, before current Director Christopher Wray took the job in 2017.
— Rep. Jim Jordan (@Jim_Jordan) May 15, 2023
Still, Durham’s findings are likely to widen the FBI’s scrutiny at a time when Trump is again seeking the White House as well as offer new fodder for Republican lawmakers who are launching their own investigations. of the alleged “weapon” of the FBI and Justice Department. .
After the report was released, Republican House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan said he invited Durham to testify next week.
Trump, who is facing a series of legal issues, also claimed on his Truth Social platform on Monday that the report showed that the US public had been “scammed”.