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May 17, 2023

In Brief: Durham Dismantles the Clinton-FBI Strategy

Our nation’s premiere law enforcement agency behaved disgracefully in 2016 and 2017.

Our Douglas Andrews took the first crack at Special Counsel John Durham’s thorough report decimating once and for all the Russian collusion narrative that Hillary Clinton and her FBI allies hung around Donald Trump’s neck in 2016 and afterward. Our Mark Alexander will have more this afternoon.

For now, here are some salient points from a few editorials.

National Review:

What is already stunning, though, even to those who have closely followed this sordid saga — the FBI, doing the bidding of the Clinton campaign and the Democratic Party, portrayed Donald Trump as a clandestine agent of Russia — is the slight news of the information that triggered the opening of the investigation.

Because electoral politics is supposed to be insulated from law enforcement absent evidence that a serious crime or perilous threat to national security is afoot, the FBI is expected to tread lightly, especially in the invocation of its foreign counterintelligence powers.

Foreign counterintelligence matters are classified and thus lack the transparency that checks government abuse in ordinary criminal cases. Rather than leap to a full-blown foreign counterintelligence investigation, the bureau routinely begins with an “assessment” and proceeds to a low-level “preliminary” inquiry if that initial assessment turns up alarming, articulable intelligence indicative of a real threat.

That is not what happened in Crossfire Hurricane, the FBI code name assigned to the Trump-Russia “collusion” probe. …

This was one of the dirtiest political tricks in American history. The damage it has done to American trust in the FBI and our intelligence agencies is incalculable.

Washington Examiner:

The FBI allowed itself to be weaponized for political purposes during the 2016 presidential election. That is the conclusion of special counsel John Durham’s damning final report released Monday. …

According to Durham’s report, the FBI’s 2016 investigation into alleged collusion between Donald Trump’s presidential campaign and Russia began with a single unverified account of a months-old conversation in a bar with an unpaid foreign policy adviser to the Trump campaign. Without even speaking to the primary source of information, and in a departure from FBI standards, a full investigation was opened despite the FBI having no information that anyone from the Trump campaign had ever been in contact with Russian intelligence officials.

What the U.S. intelligence community did learn in the months after the FBI began spying on the Trump campaign was that Hillary Clinton’s campaign had hatched its own plan to create a fake scandal tying candidate Trump to Russian President Vladimir Putin and Russian hackers who compromised the Democratic National Committee’s computers.

These reports that the Clinton campaign was spreading lies about Trump colluding with Russia were understood to be so credible and important that then-CIA Director John Brennan briefed President Barack Obama about them in August 2016. In other words, Clinton’s disinformation operation was suspected months before the 2016 election.

This Clinton disinformation plan, manifested in the Steele dossier, succeeded in providing the FBI the disinformation it needed to secure a warrant to target the Trump campaign from a federal court. …

The Durham report exposes a massive scandal in the intelligence and law enforcement structure in Washington, D.C. There needs to be a thorough follow-up and public airing by Congress. There must be significant changes in leadership if the organization is to regain any credibility. It will take years and decisive action to repair the enormous damage done by a deep state committed to partisan action in favor of the Democratic Party.

The Wall Street Journal:

Two special counsels, several inspector general reports and six years later, the country finally has a more complete account of the FBI’s Russia collusion probe of the 2016 Donald Trump campaign. Special counsel John Durham’s final report makes clear that a partisan FBI became a funnel for disinformation from the Hillary Clinton campaign through a secret investigation the bureau never should have launched. …

The Durham team deserves credit for not engaging in leaks, innuendo or politicized actions—precisely the FBI behavior it is criticizing. The report notes that if the findings “leave some with the impression that injustices or misconduct have gone unaddressed, it is not because the Office concluded that no such injustices or misconduct occurred,” but rather that “the law does not always make a person’s bad judgment, even horribly bad judgement” [sic] a crime. …

The Russia collusion fabrication and deceptive sale to the public is a travesty that shouldn’t be forgotten. That Washington’s establishment refuses to acknowledge its role in this deceit is one reason so many Americans don’t trust public institutions. It will take years for honest public servants to undo the damage, but the Durham accounting is a start.

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