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“FBI never should have launched full Trump-Russia probe”- Special counsel John Durham’s report

Newsman: Special counsel John Durham’s report of the FBI’s probe into the 2016 Donald Trump campaign was released to the public Monday. John Durham concluded that the FBI should never have launched a full investigation into connections between Donald Trump’s campaign and Russia during the 2016 election, according to a report compiled over three years. Attorney General Merrick Garland sent Durham’s report to congressional lawmakers and released the report on Monday.

In a letter to Congress accompanying the report, Garland said, “Special Counsel Durham’s unclassified report is attached in full as submitted to me, without any additions, redactions, or other modifications.”

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Durham’s 300-plus page report also states that the FBI used “raw, unanalyzed, and uncorroborated intelligence,” to launch the “Crossfire Hurricane” investigation into Trump and Russia but used a different standard when weighing concerns about alleged election interference regarding Hillary Clinton’s campaign.

“Based on the review of Crossfire Hurricane and related intelligence activities, we conclude that the (Justice) Department and FBI failed to uphold their important mission of strict fidelity to the law in connection with certain events and activities described in this report,” Durham wrote.

The report also concludes that “at least on the part of certain personnel intimately involved in the matter” there was “a predisposition to open an investigation into Trump.”

Durham’s findings that the FBI’s investigation into the Trump campaign should not have happened are at odds with a previous Justice Department inspector general investigation into the FBI’s Russia probe, which identified problems with the investigation but concluded in December 2019 there was sufficient justification to open the inquiry.

The special counsel, however, did not recommend any new charges against individuals or “wholesale changes” about how the FBI handles politically charged investigations, despite strongly criticizing the agency’s behavior.

Durham was appointed by former Attorney General William Barr to look into what many on the right saw as a politically motivated witch hunt, but the report offered no significant new evidence to support those claims.

The investigation was launched in May 2019 by Trump’s former Attorney General William Barr – a probe that Trump and his right-wing allies repeatedly predicted would “investigate the investigators” and lead to bombshell indictments of those who scrutinized the former president. Four years later, Durham’s investigation yielded one minor conviction, two losses at trial and a probe that fell short of the lofty goals set by the former president.

In a statement Monday, the FBI said its leadership has “already implemented dozens of corrective actions, which have now been in place for some time,” in response to the conduct examined by Durham. “Had those reforms been in place in 2016, the missteps identified in the report could have been prevented,” the statement adds.

Despite acknowledging the FBI had sufficient reason to open a preliminary assessment or at most a preliminary investigation, the report states that the bureau should not have gone as far as opening a full probe into whether individuals associated with the Trump campaign were coordinating with the Russian government.

“Indeed, based on the evidence gathered in the multiple exhaustive and costly federal investigations of these matters, including the instant investigation, neither U.S. law enforcement nor the Intelligence Community appears to have possessed any actual evidence of collusion in their holdings at the commencement of the Crossfire Hurricane investigation,” Durham said in his report.

Durham suggested that if the FBI had taken those steps, it would have found that US intelligence agencies did not have any evidence tying Trump to Russian leadership officials.

Durham contrasted the treatment of possible investigations involving the campaigns of Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and Trump. In one matter, the FBI provided defensive briefing to Clinton and other candidates who appeared to be targets of foreign interference. But Trump’s campaign wasn’t briefed on the investigation.

“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.”

Durham proposes new FBI position on ‘politically sensitive’ investigations

Durham is floating a proposal to create a career position for a nonpartisan FBI lawyer or agent who would be tasked with challenging steps taken in “politically sensitive investigations,” including surveillance warrant applications.

The proposal was put forward by Stewart Baker, a former government lawyer who held top roles at the National Security Agency and Department of Homeland Security.

“As a way to ensure full consideration of the issues in applications that may present very difficult – and vitally important – issues, we recommend that the Department seriously consider Baker’s proposal for an official to challenge both a politically sensitive FISA application and other stages of the investigation,” the Durham report says.

Trump blasted the FBI in a Truth Social post.

“WOW! After extensive research, Special Counsel John Durham concludes the FBI never should have launched the Trump-Russia Probe!” Trump posted Monday. “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!”

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