In Final Report, Trump-Era Special Counsel Denounces Russia Investigation
John Durham, the Trump-era special counsel who for four years has pursued a politically fraught investigation into the Russia inquiry, accused the F.B.I. of a “lack of analytical rigor” in a final report made public on Monday that examined the bureau’s investigation into whether the 2016 Trump campaign was conspiring with Moscow.
Mr. Durham’s 306-page report appeared to show little substantial new information about the F.B.I.’s handling of the Russia investigation, known as Crossfire Hurricane, and it failed to produce the kinds of blockbuster revelations impugning the bureau that former President Donald J. Trump and his allies had once suggested that Mr. Durham would find.
Instead, the report — released without substantive comment or redactions by Attorney General Merrick B. Garland — repeated previously exposed flaws in the inquiry, including from a 2019 inspector general report, while concluding that the F.B.I. suffered from a confirmation bias as it pursued leads about Mr. Trump’s ties to Russia.
“Throughout the duration of Crossfire Hurricane, facts and circumstances that were inconsistent with the premise that Trump and/or persons associated with the Trump campaign were involved in a collusive or conspiratorial relationship with the Russian government were ignored or simply assessed away,” Mr. Durham declared.
Mr. Durham largely revisited criticisms uncovered in a separate investigation and continued to insinuate that Hillary Clinton’s campaign had helped fuel the Russia investigation. In 2019, an inspector general found that the F.B.I. had botched wiretap applications used in the inquiry.
“Our investigation also revealed that senior F.B.I. personnel displayed a serious lack of analytical rigor toward the information that they reviewed, especially info received form politically affiliated persons and entities,” Mr. Durham wrote. “This information in part triggered and sustained Crossfire Hurricane and contributed to the subsequent need for Special Counsel Mueller’s investigation.”
But in using the word “triggered,” Mr. Durham’s report echoed a conspiracy theory pushed by supporters of Mr. Trump that the F.B.I. opened the investigation in July 2016 based on the so-called Steele dossier, opposition research indirectly funded by the Clinton campaign that was later discredited.
In fact, as Mr. Durham acknowledged elsewhere in the report, the dossier did not reach those investigators until mid-September. The F.B.I. instead opened the investigation based on a tip from an Australian diplomats, following WikiLeaks’ publication of hacked Democratic emails, that a Trump campaign aide had previously seemed to indicate advance knowledge that Russia would release information damaging to the Clinton campaign.
The special prosecutor’s findings were sent to Mr. Garland on Friday and were presented to Congress and the news media without any additions or alterations, a department spokeswoman said.
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