Prosecutor ends probe into FBI Trump-Russia investigation with harsh criticism but no new charges


WASHINGTON (AP) — A special prosecutor found the FBI acted rashly Exploring the connections between Russia and Donald Trump’s 2016 election campaign and he relied too heavily on raw and unverified intelligence as he completed a four-year investigation that fell far short of the former president’s prediction that the “crime of the century” would be uncovered.

Monday’s report from the special counsel John Durham marks the long-awaited culmination of an investigation Trump and his allies have claimed would uncover massive wrongdoing by law enforcement and intelligence officials. Instead, the Durham investigation delivered disappointing results for prosecutors securing an admission of guilt by a little-known FBI employee, however They lost the only two criminal cases they brought to trial.

The approximate 300-page report cataloged what Durham says was a series of missteps by the FBI and Justice Department as investigators conducted a politically sensitive investigation in the heat of the 2016 election into whether the Trump campaign was colluding with Russia to influence the outcome. She criticized the FBI for launching a full investigation based on “raw, unanalyzed and uncorroborated information” and said the speed with which it did so was a deviation from the norm. And it said investigators had repeatedly relied on “confirmation bias,” ignoring or rationalizing away evidence that undermined their assumption of a Trump-Russia conspiracy as they pushed the probe forward.

“Based on our review of Crossfire Hurricane and related intelligence activities, we conclude that the Department and the FBI failed in their important duty of strict compliance with the law in connection with certain events and activities described in this report,” the statement reads the document.

The impact of Durham’s report, while harshly critical of the FBI, is likely to be tempered by Durham’s patchy law enforcement record and the fact that many of the episodes cited in it have already been extensively investigated by the FBI Inspector General of the Ministry of Justice. The FBI announced it a long time ago Dozens of corrective actions. The bureau detailed those changes in a letter to Durham on Monday, including steps designed to ensure the accuracy of secret surveillance applications used to eavesdrop on suspected terrorists and spies.

“Had these reforms been implemented in 2016, the missteps identified in the report could have been avoided. “This report underscores the importance of ensuring that the FBI continues to do its job with the rigor, objectivity, and professionalism that the American people deserve and rightly expect,” the FBI said in a statement. It also emphasized that the report focused on the FBI’s past leadership prior to the current one Director Christopher Wray took the job in 2017.

Still, Durham’s findings are likely to increase FBI scrutiny at a time when Trump is once again aiming for the White House, and provide fresh fodder for Republicans in Congress who have launched their own investigations into alleged FBI and Justice Department “weapon use.” After the report was released, Jim Jordan, chairman of the Republican House Judiciary Committee, said he invited Durham to testify next week.

Trump again claimed on his Truth Social platform that the report showed the “crime of the century” and called the Russia investigation a “Democratic hoax”.

Durham, the former US Attorney in Connecticut, was appointed in 2019 by Trump’s Attorney General William Barr shortly after Special Counsel Robert Mueller had completed his investigation into whether Trump’s 2016 campaign team had colluded with Russia to tilt the election outcome in his favour.

The Mueller investigation resulted in about three dozen criminal charges, including convictions of half a dozen Trump employees, and revealed that Russia intervened on behalf of the Trump campaign and that the campaign welcomed the help. But Mueller’s team did not find that they had actually conspired to influence the election, giving critics of the investigation – including Barr himself – an opportunity to claim that it had been launched without proper basis.

Revelations in the months that followed revealed flaws in the investigation, including errors and omissions in the Justice Department’s requests to wiretap a former Trump campaign aide, Carter Page, and the FBI’s reliance on a dossier of unverified or discredited information compiled by a British ex-spy, Christopher Steele.

Durham’s team dug deep into these errors and found that investigators rushed into investigations without conducting key interviews or extensively checking Intelligence databases. According to the report, at the time the investigation was launched, the FBI had no information that any Trump campaign official had been in contact with Russian intelligence officials.

The original Russia probe was launched in July 2016 after the FBI learned from an Australian diplomat that a Trump campaign aide named George Papadopoulos had claimed to know about “dirt” that Russians put on Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton’s form had hacked emails.

But the report accused the FBI of not doing important preparatory work before launching the investigation.

It also said the FBI had not confirmed “a single substantive allegation” in the so-called Steele dossier and had ignored or rationalized the alleged exculpatory information Trump officials had provided to confidential FBI informants. This includes, the report said, downplaying the importance of a conversation in which Papadopoulos strenuously denied to the FBI informant that he had any knowledge of any links between the campaign and Russia.

“An objective and honest assessment of these strands of information should have prompted the FBI not only to question the Crossfire Hurricane prediction, but also to consider whether the FBI was being manipulated for political or other reasons,” the report says. “Unfortunately, this is not the case. ”

Durham’s brief was to review government decisions and uncover possible wrongdoing in the early days of the Trump-Russia investigation. His appointment was hailed by Trump, who said in a 2019 interview with Fox News that Durham was “the smartest and the best.” He and his supporters hoped this would expose a “deep state” conspiracy within the highest echelons of the FBI and other agencies that would derail Trump’s presidency and candidacy.

Casting a wide net, Durham and his team interviewed top officials from the FBI, Justice Department and CIA in an investigation that ultimately cost more than $6.5 million. During his first year in office, he traveled to Italy with Barr to meet with government officials, while Trump himself asked the Australian PM and other leaders for help with the investigation.

Weeks before his resignation as Attorney General in December 2020, Barr appointed Durham as a special adviser to the Justice Department to ensure he would continue his work in a Democratic government.

The investigation’s slow pace angered Trump, who berated Barr for the whereabouts of the report before leaving office. By the end of the Trump administration, only one criminal case had been filed, while the sudden departure of Durham’s top deputy in the final months of Trump’s tenure raised questions about whether the team was in sync.

Despite expectations that Durham could indict senior government officials, his team produced only three indictments. A former FBI attorney has pleaded guilty to altering an email the FBI relied on in its request to wire-tap a former Trump campaign aide. Two other defendants – a Clinton campaign lawyer and a Russian-American think tank analyst – were both acquitted of lying to the FBI.

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