Court Battles

Durham report slams FBI’s Trump-Russia probe

John Durham, a Trump-era special counsel assigned to review the investigation of the former president’s ties to Russia, concluded authorities didn’t have sufficient information to open the case. 

While Durham does not recommend any new charges in his final 305-page report, he offers a scathing assessment of the FBI’s process in how it launched and carried out the investigation, which was known as “Crossfire Hurricane.”

“The objective facts show that the FBI’s handling of important aspects of the Crossfire Hurricane matter were seriously deficient,” Durham wrote, arguing that the bureau relied on “raw, unanalyzed, and uncorroborated intelligence.”

The report comes after a roughly four-year investigation into how the FBI launched a probe into the 2016 Trump campaign and possible contacts with Russia.

Durham was appointed in 2019 by then-Attorney General Bill Barr to investigate the origins of the FBI probe, a move that former President Trump celebrated. Trump himself repeatedly raised expectations for the Durham probe, suggesting it would unveil the “crime of the century.”

Durham’s investigation yielded multiple indictments, but limited results in court. Two individuals – Igor Danchenko and Michael Sussmann – were charged with lying to the FBI and found not guilty, and a third individual pleaded guilty to doctoring an email about a surveillance warrant.

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,” Durham wrote in the report. 

“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,” he continued.

The report analyzes a number of the issues with the investigation that have previously been widely covered by the media.

Among other items, the Durham report criticizes the FBI’s inability to corroborate any of the Steele Dossier, which contained a series of salacious allegations about Trump and his possible ties to Russia. He likewise criticizes the use of the dossier as a basis for securing a warrant to spy on then-Trump campaign advisor Carter Page. 

He also criticized the bureau for failing to provide a defensive briefing to the Trump campaign before moving ahead with the investigation.

The FBI, whose actions were dissected by the report, noted in a letter to Congress that the episode happened “under prior leadership.”

“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 agency said in a statement Monday.

“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. “  

The special counsel’s review of the investigation into Trump and Russia has fueled partisan tensions over the reliability of the FBI and the Justice Department, and Monday’s final report is likely to exacerbate those tensions. Shortly after its release, conservatives were quick to seize on the findings to paint the FBI as biased against Trump.

“WOW! After extensive research, Special Counsel John Durham concludes the FBI never should have launched the Trump-Russia Probe! In other words, the American Public was scammed, just as it is being scammed right now by those who don’t want to see GREATNESS for AMERICA!” Trump wrote on Truth Social shortly after the report was made public.

Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), a top Trump ally in the House and chairman of the Judiciary Committee, tweeted that he had reached out to the Justice Department to have Durham testify next week.

While Durham’s report undercut much of the predicate for initiating the investigation into Trump, the broader probe of the former president’s conduct with regard to Russia was fruitful.

Durham notes Crossfire Hurricane “contributed to the subsequent need for Special Counsel Mueller’s investigation.” 

Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe resulted in charges against 34 individuals, including seven U.S. nationals and 26 Russian nationals.

Mueller’s final report, released in March 2019, concluded that Russia interfered in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, but did not charge any members of the Trump campaign for coordinating or conspiring with Russia. Mueller also did not explicitly say Trump committed obstruction of justice, but did not exonerate him either, instead laying out 10 instances of possible obstruction by the then-president.

Updated: 5:01 p.m.

Tags Donald Trump John Durham

Copyright 2023 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

See all Hill.TV See all Video

Most Popular

Load more


See all Video