The Justice Department released Special Counsel John Durham’s final report on Monday afternoon, finding that the Department of Justice and FBI “failed to uphold their mission of strict fidelity to the law” when they launched the Trump-Russia investigation.
In the report, which spans more than 300 pages, Durham concluded that the FBI's investigation, known as "Crossfire Hurricane," displayed a “serious lack of analytical rigor” and “significant reliance on investigative leads provided or funded (directly or indirectly) by Trump's political opponents.”
Durham’s report also pointed to former FBI Director James Comey and former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe’s “failure to adequately examine or question” the materials provided by politically-affiliated persons and entities.
“This information in part triggered and sustained Crossfire Hurricane and contributed to the subsequent need for Special Counsel Mueller’s investigation,” the report said.
Durham’s investigation led to the indictments of three people — Michael Sussmann, Igor Danchenko, and Kevin Clinesmith — all of whom were found to be not guilty or pleaded guilty to lesser charges.
Clinesmith, in particular, “committed a criminal offense by fabricating language in an email that was material to the FBI obtaining a FISA surveillance order,” according to the report.
Reacting to the report, the FBI said in a statement: “The conduct in 2016 and 2017 that Special Counsel Durham examined was the reason that current FBI leadership already implemented dozens of corrective actions, which have now been in place for some time. Had those reforms been in place in 2016, the missteps identified in the report could have been prevented. This report reinforces the importance of ensuring the FBI continues to do its work with the rigor, objectivity, and professionalism the American people deserve and rightly expect.”
Durham’s report noted that “there is a continuing need for the FBI and the Department to recognize that lack of analytical rigor, apparent confirmation bias, and an over-willigness to rely on information from individuals connected to political opponents caused investigators to fail to adequately consider alternative hypotheses and to act without appropriate objectivity or restraint in pursuing allegations of collusion or conspiracy between a U.S. political campaign and a foreign power.”
The report concluded by saying that “although recognizing that in hindsight much is clearer, much of this also seems to have been clear at the time…it is important to examine past conduct to identify shortcomings and improve how the government carries out its most sensitive functions.”
Despite Durham’s findings, Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into a possible Trump-Russia connection yielded no evidence of criminal conspiracy or coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia to influence the 2016 election.
Durham’s 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 release of Durham’s report serves as a reminder that the FBI and Justice Department have an obligation to uphold the law and act with impartiality and objectivity, no matter the political implications. It is up to the agencies to ensure that they are held to the highest of standards and that no one is above the law.