(CNN) A long awaited one Report Republican-appointed special counsel John Durham The “Crime of the Century” could not be found Former President Donald Trump said he was targeted Russia investigation. But it gave him a potential political payoff.
The 300-page outcome of the three-year investigation dealt another blow to the FBI in its handling of the tainted 2016 election. Durham said the bureau’s full-scale investigation into the many contacts between the Trump campaign and the Russians should never have been launched, arguing that investigators “reluctantly or willfully ignored” information that did not support preliminary theories of collusion between Trump and Russia. He called on the Justice Department to appoint an officer to oversee politically sensitive investigations. But while Durham has criticized confirmation bias and wrongdoing at the FBI, he has disclosed no new cases — undermining Trump’s predictions of a major purge of the bureau — and no recommendations for further reforms at the FBI.
In one paragraph of the statement, which is sure to be highlighted by the former GOP president for political purposes, he argued that there was “no real evidence” that US law enforcement officials or the intelligence community had investigated Trump before. And the special counsel also criticized the use of the FBI Steel documentA massive document used by the FBI to obtain surveillance warrants against a former Trump campaign adviser.
But much of what Durham revealed on Monday was nothing new, and while it wasn’t the total failure that some left-wing media commentators called it, it certainly didn’t include the blockbuster indictments predicted by the former president and his family.
Those debates aside, given the polarization of American politics, everything involving Trump and the bitter aftermath of the 2016 election, perceptions of connections between his team and Russia will depend for many citizens on their ideological perspective and opinion of Trump.
This means that the main legacy of the Durham Report is now certain to be political. It provided an immediate opening for the former commander, who had never cared for subtlety. While the report did not make such a definitive conclusion, Trump was quick to justify his claims that a massive deep state conspiracy was designed to keep him from power seven years ago. Trump trampled on the scope of Durham’s decisions — including two by another special counsel over attempts to subvert the 2020 election and, by extension, several ongoing criminal investigations against him — related to the hoarding of classified documents. “The American public was defrauded just as it is being defrauded now by those unwilling to see greatness for America!” Trump wrote in the Truth Community.
Another Trump ally is the South Carolina Republican Senate. Lindsey Graham argued that the report shows that “the rule of law in the United States has succumbed to political consequences. This is the most dangerous development and moment in American history.” Some may find Graham’s comments ironic since the same accusation was made frequently while Trump was in office, and the former president challenged the rule of law in his bid to remain in office in 2020.
But House Judiciary Chairman Jim Jordan of Ohio has signaled he will use Durham’s report to spur an investigation into what he says is the government’s “weaponization” of Trump and Republicans. Jordan’s accusations represent a popular belief among pro-Trump conservatives, but they have so far failed to make a concrete leap into mainstream political debates.
However, Trump’s original intent in demanding an FBI investigation was to create a political shield against past and future investigations, and he achieved significant success on Monday. The former president has promised to dismantle the US intelligence and law enforcement agencies if he is re-elected in 2024. And his strength in the GOP means he should challenge Republicans for the nomination. Tax.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, for example, lashed out at “weaponized federal agencies” producing the Russia collusion narrative. “This reminds us of the need to clean house at these agencies because they have never been held accountable for this egregious abuse of power,” DeSantis wrote on Twitter.
The FBI is under pressure again in the Trump investigation
Skeptics of the investigation have long pointed out that it began when former Attorney General William Barr was under intense pressure from the then-president to investigate those investigating his 2016 campaign. Some analysts said Durham was only able to win one conviction related to the Russia probe, repeating criticisms of the FBI’s conduct from an earlier inspector general’s report that the investigation proved a waste of expensive money set up to prove a wrong political theory.
Former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, who is now a senior CNN national security analyst, blasted the report as a “political correctness” on Monday, striking back against Trump’s opponents at the FBI.
Despite McCabe’s criticism, the Durham report’s findings may make the FBI even more reluctant to open investigations involving political campaigns during presidential elections. The bureau has already implemented several reforms to address the findings of a previous inspector general’s report that found problems with applications for foreign intelligence surveillance court warrants.
A never-ending election
Durham’s report deepens the FBI’s influence on the campaign during the 2016 election by publicly reopening an investigation into Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton’s handling of classified emails just days before Election Day. Now the Republican nominee has also been accused by a special counsel of improperly investigating him. Democrats may not trust Durham’s motivations. They are lobbying in the hope that the current special counsel, Jack Smith, will indict Trump. Cherry-picking between special counsels will further discourage distrust in the rule of law and the independence of the judiciary.
In another politically sensitive part of his report, Durham found that the FBI did not pursue charges against Clinton with the same vigor they did against Trump. Clinton’s supporters, however, will find the accusation ludicrous when they blame FBI Director James Comey for swinging the election against her through public statements in his emails. At the same time, Americans do not know that Trump is under investigation.
The protracted and toxic coverage of the 2016 election did not end there. That fateful presidential race is the trigger for another legal issue that’s causing even more political explosions — Trump’s money laundering. For adult film actress Stormy Daniels He became the first former president to be impeached as a result. Allegations of fraudulent bookkeeping have already been confirmed, with the 2024 campaign embroiled in a tumultuous first Trump presidential bid seven years ago.
Legal experts criticize Durham
While Republicans highlighted parts of Durham’s report that seemed to confirm their own conclusions about what it had to say, few legal experts took it seriously.
NYU law professor Ryan Goodman told CNN’s Erin Burnett that Durham argued that FBI agents found rebuttal evidence to fully develop the preliminary investigation into Trump. The investigation was questionable.
CNN legal analyst Elliott Williams said the report fails to live up to Trump’s allegations. Durham doesn’t see the “systemic abuses” that Trump supporters expect.
McCabe, who was deputy director of the FBI during the Trump investigation, said he “vehemently” disagreed with the report and said it represented a “profound misunderstanding” of what was known at the time. He pointed out that the Trump investigation began around the time Russia attacked Democratic National Committee servers and used the stolen information to attack Clinton. The investigation was launched after the bureau received evidence from a friendly foreign government that the Russians had aided the Trump campaign. He said the FBI would have investigated Clinton under similar circumstances.
Indeed, while Durham criticized the FBI for moving to a full-scale investigation of Trump, he said the bureau had reason to open a preliminary review. Although he criticized the fact that a full investigation was prompted, the outcome of that investigation — which grew into special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation — did not bring any criminal charges against Trump. Mueller declined to conclude that Trump’s campaign colluded with Russia to influence the 2016 campaign. However, he described several contacts between Trump’s campaign and the Russians, and showed that many senior figures expected to benefit from Moscow’s meddling in the election. Again without bringing charges, Mueller recounted several instances of Trump’s apparent obstruction of justice.
Democrats are also trying to extract legal capital from the report — particularly because of the bombshell lack of new allegations.
Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin, a Democrat from Illinois, criticized Durham for making “no meaningful recommendations on how the FBI can improve the use of its substantial surveillance officers” beyond the inspector general’s report.
While conservatives have criticized the Biden administration for politically motivated judicial investigations, Durham notably thanked Attorney General Merrick Garland for allowing his investigation to proceed without interference.
But all Trump needs from the report is a headline and a general narrative of suspicion against the FBI. He will do the rest.