Like most of the reports and revelations released by the GOP during the Biden era, the report of Special Counsel John Durham is being hyped as a world-historical scandal. But it doesn’t uncover a whole lot.
John Durham, the United States Attorney for the state of Connecticut, was appointed by the Trump Administration’s Attorney General, William Barr, in 2019 to serve as Special Counsel, investigating the “origins” of the FBI’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.
This week, after more than four years, Durham finally released his report. And like most reports and revelations released during the Biden era, it’s been greeted on the right as a massive, historical scandal, one that will lead to the swift imprisonment of every top Democrat.
But what, ultimately, did Durham conclude?
Durham’s report is specifically critical of the FBI for the way it launched and conducted the “Crossfire Hurricane” investigation, the probe that was conducted into Trump’s relationship with Russia during the 2016 race.
According to CNN, Durham found that the FBI “rushed” to investigate Trump and that it lacked “any actual evidence of collusion” before launching that probe. It also was critical of the reliance on the notorious Steele Dossier.
However, Durham did not recommend any new criminal charges against anyone. Durham, in his four years as special counsel, previously brought a pair of criminal prosecutions that led to acquittals, and just one conviction, when FBI lawyer Kevin Clinesmith pled guilty, after which he was sentenced to probation. The conclusions, in all, were similar to those of the Justice Department Inspector General, Michael Horowitz, that was released in 2019.
By contrast, Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russian interference — something seen as an ultimate disappointment by many anti-Trump types — yielded indictments, convictions, and guilty pleas from 34 different people.
An analysis by Vox argued that Durham had “tried to prove a Democratic plot to frame Trump,” but had failed to do so because the “ four-year effort to investigate the Trump-Russia investigators has ended with a whimper.”
Per Vox, Durham focused on something called the “Clinton Plan,” which was a Russian government assessment that “Hillary Clinton had approved a plan to ‘vilify Donald Trump by stirring up a scandal claiming interference by Russian security services.’”
However, “the reality fell far short of Durham’s hopes,” because no one seems to have believed that the “Clinton Plan” hypothesis was true.
“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,” he writes, “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,” Durham’s report said.
Meanwhile, a Washington Post analysis found that the Durham report failed to meet the hype of what former Attorney General Barr had seeded, all the way back in 2019.
Barr “went pretty far in repeatedly previewing what special counsel John Durham would supposedly find in his investigation of those investigating Trump’s ties to Russia,” the Post’s Aaron Blake wrote. “The results of the newly released Durham report, while undoubtedly reflecting poorly on the FBI, don’t live up to Barr’s hype.”
Durham, in his report, states that “it seems highly likely that, at a minimum, confirmation bias played a significant role in the FBI’s acceptance of extraordinarily serious allegations derived from uncorroborated information that had not been subjected to the typical exacting analysis employed by the FBI and other members of the Intelligence Community.” But as pointed out by Blake in the Post, this falls far short of the deliberate malfeasance implied by Barr four years ago.
Barr, after January 6, broke with Trump.
The House Judiciary Committee Chairman, Jim Jordan, said on Tuesday that he will invite Durham to testify next week.
Expertise and Experience
Stephen Silver is a Senior Editor for 19FortyFive. He is an award-winning journalist, essayist and film critic, who is also a contributor to the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Broad Street Review and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenSilver.