Special Counsel John Durham shed another light on the United States’ two-tiered justice system when he concluded the FBI had no evidence to launch the now-infamous “Crossfire Hurricane” investigation into then-presidential candidate Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign and its alleged ties to Russia.
Durham, who former Attorney General Bill Barr tasked to examine the propriety of the bureau’s investigation into the former president, released a 320-page report on Monday after nearly four years of investigation. The report states investigators based the probe on false allegations, found “sobering” differences in its approach compared to other politically sensitive cases, and concluded that the Department of Justice and the FBI failed to uphold their important mission of strict fidelity to the law.
“An objective and honest assessment of these strands of information should have caused the FBI to question not only the predication for Crossfire Hurricane, but also to reflect on whether the FBI was being manipulated for political or other purposes,” the report reads. “Unfortunately, it did not.”
The extensive report has prompted demands for accountability within the FBI.
Real Clear Investigations senior writer and Federalist editor Mark Hemingway noted critical takeaways from the report that showcased how the FBI violated reams of established policy and procedures to pursue this investigation.
“They knew very quickly that it was baseless, and yet they seem to continue to pursue this investigation incredibly aggressively in a way that was totally unprecedented and flew in the face of all kinds of contrary evidence that they had in their possession about it,” Hemingway told The Daily Wire in a special edition of “Morning Wire.”
Durham’s investigation has only led to the conviction of former FBI attorney Kevin Clinesmith, who was sentenced to 12 months probation and 400 hours of community service for altering an email used in one of the FISA applications alleging that former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page had been a source for the Central Intelligence Agency.
The report contrasts former special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, which an ABC analysis shows indictments against 34 individuals and three Russian businesses. Eight have pleaded guilty to or been convicted of felonies, including five Trump associates and campaign officials.
Durham may have found the bureau’s failure sobering, but Hemingway believes the report’s troubling revelations and sweeping implications represent a “catastrophic” politically-motivated animus and bias across the justice system from officials who neglected their respect for civil rights and democracy.
Neither U.S. law enforcement nor the Intelligence Community appeared to have any actual evidence of collusion between Trump and Russia, Durham reported, and Crossfire investigators failed to corroborate any of the substantive allegations primarily based on since-debunked notorious dossier provided by former British MI6 spy Christopher Steele.
According to the report, FBI officials learned Steele had relied primarily on sub-sourced tales from U.S.-based Russian national Igor Danchenko, who flunked out of the Washington, D.C.-based Brookings Institute think-tank. Investigation in the Durham report discovered that Danchenko had told another individual that he claimed responsibility for 80% of the ‘intel’ and 50% of the analysis contained in the Steele Dossier.
In Hemingway’s estimation, an example of the so-called intel from Danchenko is the “golden showers” tale involving alleged salacious sexual activity taking place at Moscow’s Ritz Carlton between Russian prostitutes and the former president.
Durham named Democratic PR executive Charles Dolan, a former adviser to Hillary Clinton’s failed 2008 presidential campaign, as the source who leaked the fabricated story after hearing it from a staff member at the luxury hotel in Russia.
Hemingway further noted that after the FBI knew that Danchenko provided false information, the bureau paid him an additional $300,000 and kept him on the payroll as a confidential human source so they could avoid admitting the agency’s failure in judgment.
“It’s just an absolute travesty and miscarriage of justice in that regard,” Hemingway said.
Danchenko had been the subject of an FBI counterintelligence investigation from 2009 to 2011, according to the report. The bureau launched an investigation into Danchenko while he was employed by the Brookings Institution in 2008 after agents interviewed several former colleagues who raised concerns about potential involvement between him and Russian intelligence.
“During this exchange, Danchenko informed the employee that he had access to people who were willing to pay for classified information.” according to the report.
Hemingway said the bureau never made any conclusive judgments about the investigation, raising further concerns about why the FBI would source information from a potential Russian agent injecting misinformation into a presidential election.
“And yet they kept this fact under wrap and used his information to get warrants to spy on the president,” he said. “I mean — it’s just absolute madness that they would just pick and choose information from an unreliable source that they believed could have been a Russian agent.”
Durham repeatedly makes clear the investigation found no substantive evidence from the beginning corroborating the Russia collusion narrative — and that the Clinton campaign drummed it up. Yet in August of 2016, some of the highest-ranking U.S. officials — CIA Director John Brennan, President Obama, Vice President Biden, AG Loretta Lynch, and FBI Director James Comey — were all involved in briefings on this manufactured narrative.
Whether the top U.S. officials were committed to partisan objectives, refused to believe an atypical candidate like Trump was anything but malicious, or because Trump represented a populous rejection of an agenda federal officials had been working on, Hemingway said the truth likely comes from a mixture of more conscious efforts.
“Basically, undermine and possibly, even overthrow a democratically elected president and install someone else simply because they viewed him as a threat to their sort of, you know, established cultural and political order,” Hemingway said. “Whatever we want to say about Donald Trump, his election was a loud signal from the American populace that they were very tired of the established center-left order when it came to issues like immigration and foreign policy.”
“And they just couldn’t handle that,” he added.
Durham’s report has also prompted demands for accountability over the attempts to downplay the findings by Biden Administration officials and the legacy media outlets like the New York Times and Washington Post, which both received a Pulitzer Prize for reporting on false claims of collusion despite a glaring lack of evidence.
“I don’t know how anyone could conclude that these people should ever be trusted again on this topic,” Hemingway said. “Let alone almost anything else.”
The FBI responded to the report, which federal authorities characterized as “missteps” that led up to Operation Crossfire Hurricane and the following months, while claiming the bureau has implemented some new rules and dozens of policies they believe have fully addressed all the issues Durham highlighted in the report.
“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,” FBI officials said in a news release. “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.”
But despite the damning evidence, lack of integrity, and regard for established procedures noted by Durham in the report, Hemingway said he doubts any significant indictments or accountability for subverting democracy would come from the investigation.
“I know that’s depressing, but knowing the truth always matters,” he tweeted. “Don’t forget that.”
The Durham Report is damning as hell, and there's going to be no big indictments or accountability for what they did to subvert democracy.
I know that's depressing, but knowing the truth always matters. Don't forget that.
— Mark Hemingway (@Heminator) May 15, 2023
He told The Daily Wire until the FBI employs people of integrity willing to commit to the bureau’s mission — which former agents-turned-whistleblower allege has shifted from upholding the U.S. Constitution to protecting the agency’s brand — “none of this really matters.”