After years behind closed doors, John Durham confronts Congress. Here are 8 questions he may face
Durham's final report lambasted FBI for opening the Russia collusion probe without evidence.
After years working with grand juries mostly in private, Special Counsel John Durham will step this week into the political arena to face lawmakers and address questions that weren’t answered by his final report that definitively concluded the FBI opened its Russia collusion investigation of Donald Trump during the 2016 election without any evidence of wrongdoing.
Durham will appear behind closed doors Tuesday in front of the House Intelligence Committee and then step into the public limelight on Wednesday morning in an open hearing before the House Judiciary Committee, whose chairman Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, played a major role in uncovering FBI abuses in the case.
Rep. Mike Turner, R-Ohio, the chairman of the intelligence panel, said he will use his portion of question to fish out recommendations from the veteran prosecutor on how to prevent the FBI and intelligence community in the future from interfering in elections like they did in 2016 with the Russia collusion probe and in 2020 with a letter by former spies falsely claiming the Hunter Biden laptop was Russian disinformation.
“How do we make certain this doesn’t happen again? How do we make certain that we don’t have people with a political bias entering into political campaigns and using the authority of the government to have major media and the government take actions that are not based on truth?” Turner told CNN in a weekend interview in which he described his top questions.
But former House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes, who wrote the first report in 2018 unmasking FBI abuses in the Russia collusion probe and now runs Trump’s social media firm, said his former colleagues in the House also have many questions about evidence, tactics and abuses that weren’t addressed in Durham’s 306-page report.
“It looks like Congress has a lot of work to do to figure out what really happened, and why no one was held accountable,” Nunes told Just the News on Monday. “Only Congress can do it now.”
Durham was first named to investigate the investigators in the Russia collusion probe in 2019 and was upgraded by then-Attorney General William Bar in October 2020 to a special counsel with sweeping, independent powers. He only secured a single conviction of an ex-FBI lawyer who doctored evidence in the case and lost two prosecutions of witnesses he accused of lying to the FBI. Those defendants, former Clinton campaign lawyer Michael Sussmann and Russian academic Igor Danchenko, were acquitted by juries.
But Durham's final report delivered a stinging rebuke of the FBI and Justice Department and their now infamous Crossfire Hurricane probe, concluding officials pursued a 2.5 year investigation of Trump without any evidence of Russia collusion after learning the allegations emanated from his chief political rival in the 2016 election, Hillary Clinton.
"Based on the evidence gathered in the multiple exhaustive and costly investigations of these matters, 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 wrote.
You can read the full report here.
Here are eight questions that were not fully addressed in the report that House lawmakers are likely to ask this week, according to Just the News interviews with lawmakers and their staff:
- Why were more senior officials like ex-FBI Director James Comey, his deputy Andrew McCabe, former lead agent Peter Strzok and others not charged with any crimes and was a conspiracy case ever considered? And why were many of the key players not even interviewed by Durham’s team? All have denied wrongdoing.
- Did former House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, former CIA Director John Brennan and other top intelligence officials make false statements furthering the public narrative that Trump was a Russian stooge when they knew there was no evidence of collusion with Vladimir Putin? This question is taking on new significance as Rep. Anna Paulina Luna, R-Fla., pursues a second vote this month to censure Schiff for his role in promoting the Russia collusion allegations?
- Did Durham find any evidence that U.S. or allied country officials began investigating or crafting the Russian collusion narrative before the FBI’s official start of Crossfire Hurricane on July 31, 2016? A European academic named Joseph Mifsud and his lawyer have alleged he was prompted to begin targeting Trump advisers George Papadopoulos and Carter Page in early spring 2016.
- It has been confirmed that Brennan briefed then-President Barack Obama in July 2016 that U.S. intelligence was aware of an alleged plot approved by Clinton to craft the Trump-Russia collusion narrative as a way of distracting from her classified emails scandal. How did US spy agencies learn this, what evidence did they gather and distribute to other agencies and did anyone urge that Clinton be investigated for trying to influence the election or any other crimes?
- Did the Obama administration, the FBI or any US spy agencies ask foreign countries to assist in spying on Donald Trump’s campaign or furthering the Russian narrative? And is there any evidence that Russia assisted Hillary Clinton’s campaign in spreading, or establishing the false narrative?
- Did Durham find any evidence or intelligence that disputes the Obama administration’s intelligence assessment that Russia interfered in the 2016 campaign and was trying to benefit Donald Trump?
- What, if any, role did President Joe Biden have in furthering the false Russia collusion narrative as vice president, and how much did he know about Hillary Clinton’s plot to dirty up Trump with Russia allegations?
- What additional reforms are needed to ensure the FBI and the intelligence community don’t politically meddle in future elections like they did with the Russia collusion probe in 2016?