Special Counsel John Durham on May 15 released his final report on Crossfire Hurricane. Its conclusions are unambiguous. The report is dated May 12, so Durham has been at this for one day shy of four years. His investigation produced several indictments and one conviction of a former FBI attorney. Crossfire Hurricane was the FBI’s counterintelligence investigation into an alleged conspiracy between the 2016 Trump presidential campaign and the Russian government. Citing a not inconsiderable amount of evidence, the 300-plus-page Durham report concludes that the FBI threw its own rule book out of the window and charged into an investigation that would never have been opened had the Bureau lived up to its once-impressive reputation for competence and thoroughness.
Then-Attorney General William Barr signed an order appointing Durham, a veteran federal prosecutor, to his position on May 13, 2019. His mission was “to investigate whether any federal official, employee, or any other person or entity violated the law in connection with the intelligence, counter-intelligence, or law-enforcement activities directed at the 2016 presidential campaigns, individuals associated with those campaigns, and individuals associated with the administration of President Donald J. Trump, including but not limited to Crossfire Hurricane and the investigation of Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller, Ill.”
Durham Report a Black Eye for the FBI
Put simply – according to Durham’s report – FBI officials involved with Crossfire Hurricane failed to verify the authenticity of the allegations initially provided to them concerning Donald Trump and his campaign. Subsequently, they ignored a significant amount of exculpatory evidence and failed to interview key witnesses. They also provided incomplete and/or misleading evidence to obtain a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrant.
This is by no means a complete listing of ways in which Crossfire Hurricane was apparently tarnished, mismanaged, and compromised. The Durham report lays out in detail a multitude of discrepancies between how the Bureau normally approaches an investigation and how it handled the Trump-Russia probe. Those, in addition to broken or circumvented rules and standard operational procedures:
“As the more complete record now shows, there are specific areas of Crossfire Hurricane activity in which the FBI badly underperformed and failed, not only in its duties to the public, but also in preventing the severe reputational harm that has befallen the FBI as a consequence of Crossfire Hurricane. Importantly, had the Crossfire Hurricane actors faithfully followed their own principles regarding objectivity and integrity, there were clear opportunities to have avoided the mistakes and to have prevented the damage resulting from their embrace of seriously flawed information that they failed to analyze and assess properly.”
The one conviction Durham secured was that of Kevin Clinesmith who, in 2016, was an attorney with the FBI’s Office of General Counsel. He was one of those tasked with preparing warrant applications that would be submitted to a foreign intelligence surveillance court, or FISC. Clinesmith altered a key detail in an email that was used by the FBI to obtain a warrant to place Carter Page, then an advisor to Trump’s campaign, under surveillance.
In the years since his appointment, Durham has uncovered evidence that the Russia-Trump conspiracy was created within the presidential campaign of Trump’s rival, Hillary Clinton. Even back in 2016, the FBI had received information that pointed to the Clinton campaign as the source of the “collusion” theory but chose to exclude it from consideration. As the Durham report states though, this is not the entirety of the evidence that points to Clinton:
“The Office [of the Special Counsel] also considered as part of its investigation the government’s handling of certain intelligence that it received during the summer of 2016. That intelligence concerned the purported ‘approval by Hillary Clinton on July 26, 2016 of a proposal from one of her foreign policy advisors to vilify Donald Trump by stirring up a scandal claiming interference by the Russian security services.’”
The report goes on to detail the “Clinton Plan” through quotes from testimonies, Clinton campaign communications, and other sources.
Bias or Improper Motivation?
The main allegation leveled at the FBI by the 45th president and his supporters is that the entire operation, Crossfire Hurricane, was motivated by politics; specifically, a desire to prevent Donald Trump from becoming president. The report details what many have long suspected: that significant bias existed within the FBI. It further cites concrete examples of anti-Trump sentiment within the bureau and from other parties involved. The special counsel does not conclude that politics drove the investigation; nor was it in his brief to determine such a thing – but he leaves the door open to that implication. One example of how the report touches on electoral politics can be found on page 19:
“The speed and manner in which the FBI opened and investigated Crossfire Hurricane during the presidential election season based on raw, unanalyzed, and uncorroborated intelligence also reflected a noticeable departure from how it approached prior matters involving possible attempted foreign election interference plans aimed at the Clinton campaign.”
FBI standard procedure is to begin a potential counterintelligence investigation with an assessment that could progress to a preliminary investigation. The Bureau effectively skipped these two steps in the Trump case and went straight to a full investigation within a matter of days after activating Crossfire Hurricane.
Later in the Durham report, under the subheading, “Bias or improper motivation,” the special counsel states that an FBI Inspection Division Report observed that investigators would “repeatedly ignore or explain away evidence contrary to the theory the Trump campaign … had conspired with Russia …. It appeared that … there was a pattern of assuming nefarious intent.” Durham points out: “An objective and honest assessment of these strands of information should have caused the FBI to question not only the predication for Crossfire Hurricane, but also to reflect on whether the FBI was being manipulated for political or other purposes. Unfortunately, it did not.”
Edward Hirsch Levi served as US Attorney General from 1975 to 1977. He was appointed by President Gerald Ford. Levi inherited a Justice Department and FBI plagued by distrust and accusations of political weaponization. On his watch, multiple FBI agents were investigated, two former attorneys general were convicted (in connection to Watergate), and the Office of Professional Responsibility was created, one for the FBI and one for the Justice Department as a whole. The Durham report concludes – perhaps pointedly – with a quote from Levi: “Nothing can more weaken the quality of life or more imperil the realization of the goals we all hold dear than our failure to make clear by words and deed that our law is not the instrument of partisan purpose.”
*The final Durham report can be read in full on Liberty Nation. Click here.
All opinions expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of Liberty Nation.
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