Former Special Counsel John Durham is expected to testify in an open House Judiciary Committee hearing on Wednesday, just weeks after releasing a report that found the Justice Department and FBI never should have launched the Trump-Russia investigation.
Durham’s first public testimony comes after he testified behind closed doors before the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence on Tuesday afternoon.
Republicans and Democrats on the Judiciary Committee will have a chance to publicly question Durham, whose report lent weight to Republican complaints that the government abused the public trust by rushing to investigate then-President Donald Trump. Durham’s report found that the Justice Department and the FBI ‘failed to uphold their mission of strict fidelity to the law’ by launching the probe.
Durham was picked in 2019 by then-Attorney General Bill Barr to investigate the origins of the FBI’s original Trump-Russia investigation, known as ‘Crossfire Hurricane.’ That investigation looked into whether the Trump campaign coordinated with Russia to influence the 2016 presidential election.
But Durham found that senior FBI personnel ‘displayed a serious lack of analytical rigor’ toward the information that they received from politically affiliated people, which he said ‘triggered’ then-Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation. Durham found there was ‘significant reliance on investigative leads provided or funded (directly or indirectly) by Trump’s political opponents.’
‘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,’ the report said.
For example, Durham found the FBI ‘failed to act’ on a ‘clear warning sign’ that the FBI was the target of a Hillary Clinton-led effort to ‘manipulate or influence the law enforcement process for political purposes’ ahead of the 2016 election.
Durham was referring to intelligence on a plan stirred up by Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign in July 2016 to tie then-candidate Trump to Russia in an effort to distract from the investigation into her use of a private email server and mishandling of classified information.
Durham found that then-CIA Director John Brennan ‘realized the significance’ of the intelligence that Clinton was stirring up a plan to tie Trump to Russia – so much so that he ‘expeditiously’ briefed then-President Barack Obama, then-Vice President Joe Biden and other top national security officials.
But nothing came of that briefing or of his subsequent referral of the information to the FBI, which Durham’s final report said was ‘startling.’
‘Had the FBI opened the Crossfire Hurricane investigation as an assessment and, in turn, gathered and analyzed data in concert with the information from the Clinton Plan intelligence, it is likely that the information received would have been examined, at a minimum, with a more critical eye,’ the report said.
The anti-Trump Steele dossier, which has been largely discredited, was also linked to the Clinton campaign. The dossier contained allegations of purported coordination between Trump and the Russian government. It was authored by Christopher Steele, an ex-British intelligence officer.
The Clinton campaign and the DNC funded the dossier through the law firm Perkins Coie, where both Marc Elias and Michael Sussmann were employed at the time.
The Justice Department inspector general revealed that the unverified anti-Trump dossier helped serve as the basis for controversial Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrants obtained against former Trump campaign aide Carter Page.
The FBI’s investigation was handed off to Mueller after Trump was elected. But Mueller’s team, like the FBI, did not investigate the allegations linked to Clinton-affiliated people.
While Democrats are expected to downplay Durham’s report, his investigation led to three people: former Clinton attorney Sussmann in September 2021, Igor Danchenko in November 2021 and Kevin Clinesmith in August 2020.
Sussmann and Danchenko were found to be not guilty. Clinesmith pleaded guilty and served community service time.
But Durham’s team could not charge anyone related to omission or failure to act on the ‘Clinton Plan intelligence.’
‘Although the evidence we collected revealed a troubling disregard for the Clinton Plan intelligence and potential confirmation bias in favor of continued investigative scrutiny of Trump and his associates, it did not yield evidence sufficient to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that any FBI or CIA officials intentionally furthered a Clinton campaign plan to frame or falsely accuse Trump of improper ties to Russia,’ the report said.
After the release of the Durham report, Trump told Fox News Digital that former FBI Director James Comey and Democrats need to be held accountable for spending years investigating alleged collusion.
‘I, and much more importantly, the American public have been victims of this long-running and treasonous charade started by the Democrats – started by Comey,’ Trump told Fox News Digital. ‘There must be a heavy price to pay for putting our country through this.’
In a statement after the release of Durham’s report, the FBI said ‘the conduct in 2016 and 2017 that Special Counsel Durham examined was the reason that current FBI leadership already implemented dozens of corrective actions, which have now been in place for some time.’
‘Had those reforms been in place in 2016, the missteps identified in the report could have been prevented,’ the FBI said. ‘This report reinforces the importance of ensuring the FBI continues to do its work with the rigor, objectivity, and professionalism the American people deserve and rightly expect.’