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Durham: FBI overlooked intel Clinton masterminded plot to smear Trump, treated campaigns differently

'There were some individuals who clearly expressed a personal bias' against Trump, Durham tells Congress

Published: June 21, 2023 9:46am

Updated: June 21, 2023 4:11pm

Former special counsel John Durham testified Wednesday that the FBI overlooked intelligence that Hillary Clinton had approved a plan to smear former President Donald Trump with Russia allegations and treated the two campaigns disparately during the 2016 election.

Durham confirmed that the CIA had received intelligence about Clinton approving a plan to make Russia allegations against Trump as a means of distracting from her classified email scandal.

The prosecutor said the FBI did not "sufficiently scrutinize information it received" and did not "apply the same standards to allegations it received about the Clinton and Trump campaigns."

“The FBI was too willing to accept and use politically funded and uncorroborated opposition research, such as the Steele dossier," he said during the House Judiciary Committee hearing. "The FBI relied on the dossier and FISA applications, knowing there was likely material originating from a political campaign or political opponent."

He told the House panel that "it's going to take time to rebuild the public's confidence in the institution" of the FBI after the agency's handling of the so-called Russia collusion probe.

Durham, appointed as a Justice Department special counsel in 2020 to investigate the matter, has said there was no evidence of collusion between the 2016 Trump presidential campaign and Russian intelligence officials when the FBI probe was launched.

"There were some individuals who clearly expressed a personal bias" against Trump, Durham told the committee, following the release in May of his final report on the now-discredited Russian collusion probe.

Under questioning from House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan, Durham said former FBI Director Jim Comey withheld a referral memorandum from the agents working the Crossfire Hurricane case that contained information about then-Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton's attempts to tie Trump to Russia.

The memo contained intelligence from a high-level briefing with Director of the Central Intelligence Agency John Brennan. Durham testified that then-President Obama, then-Vice President Joe Biden and then-Attorney General Loretta Lynch received the same briefing from Brennan.

"They kept key intelligence from the investigators. This is how bad this investigation was but here's the scary part: I don't think anything has changed," Jordan said.

Tennessee Democratic Rep. Steve Cohen told Durham that his reputation has been "damaged" by accepting the special counsel position to investigate the FBI's handling of the Russia probe.

"My concern about my reputation is with the people I respect, my family, and my Lord. And I'm perfectly comfortable with my reputation with them, sir," Durham responded.

Florida Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz criticized Durham for not issuing a subpoena to Joseph Mifsud.

In response, Durham said Mifsud was not located and is likely overseas and therefore could not be issued a subpoena. 

Gaetz questioned why Durham's team was able to locate Mifsud's lawyer who turned over two phones but could not locate Mifsud. 

He asked Durham why he didn't investigate by individuals on Bob Mueller's investigative team wiped almost 30 government phones. 

"That was not something we were asked to look at and we did not look at," Durham said.

In response, Gaetz said Durham was able to investigate Mueller and his team's handling of the Russia collusion probe. 

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