What's next for FBI after Durham trials: A final report and maybe a Church Committee-like probe

Acquittals reaffirm the political divide in Washington, D.C., but leave the next Congress with a mission to fix public trust in the FBI.
FBI exterior

After a second straight loss at trial, Special Counsel John Durham has a report to finish on the many fails he's uncovered in the FBI pursuit of Donald Trump while Congress — after the midterm elections — must decide how best to restore public trust in the FBI. 

The latter mission, some experts say, may involve the creation of an independent panel review like the 1970s Church Committee in the Senate that unmasked the abuses of J. Edgar Hoover era inside the FBI and CIA. 

"What prosecutor, in two straight trials, presents witnesses who essentially blow up his own case?" asked Kevin Brock, retired FBI chief of intelligence. "Answer: a prosecutor who cares more about getting the truth out than notching convictions." 

"John Durham used the Sussmann and Danchenko trials to expose the malfeasance of a misbegotten Crossfire Hurricane team," he said, using the code name for the FBI's pursuit of now-debunked allegations of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia to sway the outcome of the 2016    election. "Sussmann and Danchenko clearly lied, but two juries, probably correctly, could not hold them guilty and subject to punishment in the face of Durham's continued exposure of the duplicity of the Crossfire Hurricane plotters who remain unpunished. 

"I have a sad sense that John Durham's final report will be even more damning than what he has laid bare through these trials." 

Former Rep. Doug Collins (R-Ga.) expressed his frustration on the "Just the News, Not Noise" TV show Tuesday night regarding the Durham investigation's two trials.

"I am just so frustrated with the Durham investigation, and then taking these to court, the juries — I'm not sure what we're talking about here," Collins said. "I mean, we're finding out millions of dollars were paid to try and frame Donald Trump, none of it which was true, and yet nobody is being held accountable. I'm not sure what Durham did for two years, three years. I'm just not sure anymore."

Collins was asked if saw any hope left for FBI accountability.

"The cynical part of me says, 'No,'" he replied. "I'm just at the point now to where it's just like, 'Are you kidding me?' I mean, we can't get anything ... McCabe, Comey, Strzok, Page — I mean, it's just, it's ridiculous. And yes, I'm passionate about this, because I saw this behind the scenes.

"Somebody needs to be held accountable. And now McCabe is on CNN, Comey's off in the woods staring at trees, and it's just ridiculous."

Former National Security Council Senior Director Kash Patel admitted he was shocked by Danchenko's acquittal.

"I think what a lot of Americans are going to take from this is that maybe it's not worth fighting anymore" he told "Just the News, Not Noise" on Tuesday. "And even if we put the FBI on trial, and you can pay a guy hundreds of thousands of dollars of government taxpayer money to participate in the biggest criminal conspiracy in America, and then he can be tried for lying to the very employer that he gave information to, and then walk out of a federal courthouse a free man, it's quite the justice charade, but it happens when you enact a two-tiered system of justice that [FBI Director] Chris Wray and [Attorney General] Merrick Garland are quarterbacking."

The FBI was culpable of far worse than naive credulity during Crossfire Hurricane's pursuit of Donald Trump, according to Patel.

"It's not that the FBI believed it, it's that the FBI knew it was false and lied about it, which is my problem as a former federal prosecutor," he said.

The problem, Patel continued, "is that they were ingesting false information intentionally and then lying to federal courts and federal officers about that information and then working in reverse to cover up their arrogant government corruption and their lies by hiring Christopher Steele, Igor Danchenko, and, you know, utilizing the Democratic National Committee and Hillary campaign and the fake news media to buttress their lies."

Patel, too, thinks only a Frank-Church-style investigative committee can expose FBI abuses — if Congress can find the will. 

"Congress is probably gonna have to form a special committee, because there is no one committee that can fix law enforcement, FBI, DOJ, intelligence community, CIA, and DOD," he said. 

"And in one way, shape, or form, most, if not all of them, had a hand in this. And the Church commission comes to mind, I know a lot of people have talked about that from the '70s. But that's what it's going to take. And I just don't know if we have the congressional will — maybe we will, coming in in November here — to stand up such a committee, because it's going to take leadership to put it together, to implement it, and then to put brave individuals on it who aren't going to care about their political careers."

Over the course the trials of Sussmann and Danchenko, Durham dropped bombshell after bombshell, with most landing on the FBI rather than the defendants: 

  • Hillary Clinton personally approved sharing the Russia collusion narrative against Trump in fall 2016 even though her campaign wasn't sure it was true, former campaign manager Robby Mook testified. 

  • The FBI offered Christopher Steele a whopping $1 million if he could prove the sensational allegations in his dossier, but he didn't, FBI witnesses testified.

  • The FBI included allegations from the Steele dossier in its FISA application to spy on the Trump campaign even though it hadn't verified a single element of the dossier, an FBI analyst testified.  

  • Danchenko was hired as a confidential human source and recommended for hundreds of thousands of dollars even though the FBI had concerns he was tied to Russian intelligence and had lied to the bureau. 

  • A Clinton-friendly PR executive testified he lied to Danchenko, who then passed that lie on to Steele and then lied about Dolan being a source of the allegation. 

  • The FBI ignored the warnings of its own analyst that the allegations of collusion might be disinformation inserted by Russian intelligence.