Top 10 takeaways from Durham report
The report represents the culmination of a years-long effort by the prosecutor to undercover the origins of the collusion narrative.
Special Counsel John Durham on Monday released a 300-plus page report critical of the FBI, Justice Department and the entire U.S. intelligence community for its pursuit of an investigation into alleged collusion between the 2016 Trump campaign and the Russian government without evidence to substantiate the underlying allegations.
Here are some of the key takeaways:
Government Had No Evidence
- "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. Crossfire Hurricane is the FBI codename for the investigation into the 2016 Trump campaign.
- Durham contended that, had the FBI followed its own procedures, the bureau "would have learned that their own experienced Russia analysts had no information about Trump being involved with Russian leadership officials, nor were others in sensitive positions at the CIA, the NSA, and the Department of State aware of such evidence concerning the subject."
No New Charges
- Durham did not recommend that any additional people face charges stemming from his investigation.
- He previously pursued cases against former Clinton campaign lawyer Michael Sussmann and Steele Dossier contributor Igor Danchenko, but was unsuccessful.
U.S. Foreign Allies Refused to Aid in the Effort
- United Kingdom intelligence service officials were unwilling to aid in the investigation, contending that it was devoid of predicating evidence.
- "Later in the Fall of 2016, UK ALAT-1 was at FBI Headquarters with some of his British Intelligence Service-I counterparts," Durham notes, referencing a UK intelligence official. "While there, members of the Crossfire Hurricane team played the audio/visual recordings of CHS-1 's August 20, 2016 meeting with Carter Page. UK ALAT-1 said the effect on the British Intelligence Service-I personnel was not positive because of the lack of any evidence corning out of the conversation."
- "UK ALAT-1 told the OIG that after watching the video one of his British colleagues said, 'For [expletive] sake, man. You went through a lot of trouble to get him to say nothing,'" Durham continued. "At a later point in time, after the Mueller Special Counsel team was in place, UK ALAT-1 said that 'the Brits finally had enough,' and in response to a request for some assistance '[a British Intelligence Service-I person] basically said there was no [expletive] way in hell they were going to do it.'"
Former Intel Officials Promoted the Narrative Despite Knowing There Was No Evidence
- Former CIA Director John Brennan came into Durham's crosshairs for his repeated public remarks supporting the narrative that the Trump campaign colluded with the Russian government.
- "I encountered and am aware of information and intelligence that revealed contacts and interactions between Russian officials and U.S. persons involved in the Trump campaign," he told the House Intelligence Committee in 2017. President Trump’s Claims of No Collusion Are Hogwash" Brennan wrote for the New York Times in 2018.
Key Foreign Affairs Officials Saw No Evidence
- Victoria Nuland, who served as undersecretary for Political Affairs at the Department of State, and is one of that agency's "most experienced Russian observers," told Durham's team she "never saw any U.S. government proof of the allegations contained in the Steele reporting regarding Trump and Russian officials, and further stated that to her recollection no information regarding a well-coordinated conspiracy between Trump and the Russians had ever come across her desk, with one exception."
- "Nuland advised that she had received a two-page summary of the Steele allegations from Jonathan Winer," Durham wrote. The Steele dossier has been thoroughly discredited.
The Clinton Campaign Was Behind The Whole Thing
- "The FBl's actions with respect to other highly significant intelligence it received from a trusted foreign source pointing to a Clinton campaign plan to vilify Trump by tying him to Vladimir Putin so as to divert attention from her own concerns relating to her use of a private email server," the report concluded. "Unlike the FBI's opening of a full investigation of unknown members of the Trump campaign based on raw, uncorroborated information, in this separate matter involving a purported Clinton campaign plan, the FBI never opened any type of inquiry, issued any taskings, employed any analytical personnel, or produced any analytical products in connection with the information.”
- "This lack of action was despite the fact that the significance of the Clinton plan intelligence was such as to have prompted the Director of the CIA to brief the President, Vice President, Attorney General, Director of the FBI, and other senior government officials about its content within days of its receipt," Durham added. "It was also of enough importance for the CIA to send a formal written referral memorandum to Director Corney and the Deputy Assistant Director of the FBI's Counterintelligence Division, Peter Strzok, for their consideration and action."
There Were Double Standards for Trump and Clinton
- "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 wrote.
- "In one such matter...FBI Headquarters and Department officials required defensive briefings to be provided to Clinton and other officials or candidates who appeared to be the targets of foreign interference," he added. "In another, the FBI elected to end an investigation after one of its longtime and valuable CHSs went beyond what was authorized and made an improper and possibly illegal financial contribution to the Clinton campaign on behalf of a foreign entity as a precursor to a much larger donation being contemplated."
- "These examples are also markedly different from the FBl's actions with respect to other highly significant intelligence it received from a trusted foreign source pointing to a Clinton campaign plan to vilify Trump by tying him to Vladimir Putin so as to divert attention from her own concerns relating to her use of a private email server," Durham continued.
Clinton Opposition Research Firm Fusion GPS Went to the Media Before the FBI
- Before handing over their materials to law enforcement, Fusion GPS and Clinton campaign lawyer Michael Sussmann approached a media outlet to secure coverage of the materials.
- "Prior to providing the unfounded Alfa bank claims to the FBI, Sussmann and Fusion GPS (the Clinton campaign's opposition research firm) had provided the same information to various news organizations and were pressing reporters to write articles about the alleged secret communications channel," Durham wrote. "Moreover, during his September 2016 meeting at the FBI, Sussmann told Baker that an unnamed news outlet was in possession of the information and would soon publish a story about it."
- "The disclosure of the media's involvement caused the FBI to contact the news outlet whose name was eventually provided by Sussmann in the hope of delaying any public reporting on the subject," he continued. "In doing so it confirmed for the New York Times that the FBI was looking into the matter."
- "On October 31, 2016, less than two weeks before the election, the New York Times and others published articles on the Alfa Bank matter and the Clinton campaign issued tweets and public statements on the allegations of a secret channel of communications being used by the Trump Organization and a Russian bank -allegations that had been provided to the media and the FBI by Fusion GPS and Sussmann, both of whom were working for the Clinton campaign," the report concluded.
Media Reporting on Trump-Russia Collusion
- Articles by The New York Times, Slate, and Mother Jones regarding the Trump-Russia collusion narrative were cited by the report for the inaccurate information they published. Durham noted that some reports by the Times were debunked by Strzok, while others, such as those by Slate and Mother Jones, were based on information the Clinton campaign was pushing regarding the Alfa Bank allegation.
- Regarding the Times' reports, "the FBI's own records show that reports published by The New York Times in February and March 2017 concerning what four unnamed current and former U.S. intelligence officials claimed about Trump campaign personnel being in touch with any Russian intelligence officers was untrue."
Durham Recommends No New Policies, But Advises DOJ and FBI to Follow Existing Ones
- "This report does not recommend any wholesale changes in the guidelines and policies that the Department and the FBI now have in place to ensure proper conduct and accountability in how counterintelligence activities are carried out…the answer is not the creation of new rules but a renewed fidelity to the old," he wrote.
Ben Whedon is an editor and reporter for Just the News. Follow him on Twitter.