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15 May, 2023 21:09

FBI should never have investigated Trump – report

Special counsel John Durham has concluded that the agency relied on biased information to spy on the former president
FBI should never have investigated Trump – report

The US Justice Department and FBI “failed to uphold their mission” when they launched the so-called ‘Russiagate’ investigation into former president Donald Trump, the Justice Department’s special counsel, John Durham, has determined in a long-anticipated report.

In a 300-page document released on Monday, Durham condemned the FBI for treating incriminating information on Trump with a “serious lack of analytical rigor, especially information received from politically-affiliated persons and entities.”

Durham’s declaration is primarily a reference to the ‘Steele Dossier’, a compilation of bogus rumors about the former president and his alleged links to Russia that was gathered by a former British intelligence agent on the payroll of the Hillary Clinton campaign. 

The dossier kickstarted the FBI’s counterintelligence investigation against Trump in 2016 – codenamed ‘Crossfire Hurricane’, which would spiral into Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s ‘Russiagate’ investigation. Mueller would later find that no collusion occurred between the Trump campaign and the Russian government.

The Steele Dossier was used by the FBI to obtain court permission to spy on Trump’s campaign. The FBI made “basic, fundamental, and serious errors” in applying for a warrant to surveil Trump, Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz declared in 2019.

“There was significant reliance on investigative leads provided or funded (directly or indirectly) by Trump’s political opponents,” Durham wrote in his report. “The 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 of the FBI and others learned of significant and potentially contrary intelligence.”

“Based on the review of Crossfire Hurricane and related intelligence activities, we conclude that the Department and the FBI failed to uphold their mission of strict fidelity to the law,” he stated.

Durham did not, however, recommend that the FBI make any “wholesale changes” to how it handles politically sensitive investigations. 

‘Crossfire Hurricane’ and the subsequent Mueller probe cast a long shadow over Trump’s term in office, with allegations of “Russian collusion” persisting in the media even after Mueller’s report found nothing to back them up. Durham was appointed by Attorney General Bill Barr in 2019 to investigate the origins of what Trump termed “the Russia, Russia, Russia hoax,” and given special counsel status to allow him to continue to work after President Joe Biden took office.

His investigation led to three criminal cases being brought, none of them against senior FBI or Justice Department officials. Clinton campaign lawyer Michael Sussmann, and Igor Danchenko – one of Steele’s sources – were both acquitted by Washington courts on charges of lying to the agency, while FBI attorney Kevin Clinesmith was sentenced to community service for lying while securing a wiretapping warrant for former Trump advisor Carter Page.

Reacting to Durham’s report, CNN anchor Jake Tapper said on Monday that the document was “devastating to the FBI and to a degree, it does exonerate Donald Trump.”

“In other words,” Trump wrote on his Truth Social platform, “the American public was scammed.”

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