Tuesday 16 May 2023

READ IT: Durham Report Makes ‘Sobering’ Findings About FBI’s Handling Of Trump-Russia Probe

 Special Counsel John Durham, who was tasked by former Attorney General Bill Barr to examine the propriety of the FBI’s investigation of President Trump, released a 320-page report Monday that found that the FBI had no evidence to support a Trump-Russia scandal when it began its investigation, and found “sobering” differences in how it approached the Trump probe compared to other politically sensitive investigations.

You can read the report here.

It said the FBI immediately opened a full investigation based on a brief note from an Australian diplomat recounting that he had met with George Papadopoulos, a volunteer with the Trump campaign, in which he mentioned that Russia might have information negative to Hillary Clinton. “At the time of the opening of Crossfire Hurricane, the FBI did not possess any intelligence showing that anyone associated with the Trump campaign was in contact with Russian intelligence officers at any point during the campaign,” the Durham report said.

The probe later relied on the “Steele dossier,” which came from a circular loop of people with little insight into Russia — except that some of them had been on the FBI’s radar for possible misconduct or ties to Russian intelligence in their own right, it said. The FBI knew it was nothing but “rumor and speculation,” it said.

“Upon receipt of unevaluated intelligence information from Australia, the FBI swiftly opened the Crossfire Hurricane investigation. In particular, at the direction of Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, Deputy Assistant Director for Counterintelligence Peter Strzok opened Crossfire Hurricane immediately. Strzok, at a minimum, had pronounced hostile feelings toward Trump.”

“The matter was opened as a full investigation without ever having spoken to the persons who provided the information. Further, the FBI did so without (i) any significant review of its own intelligence databases, (ii) collection and examination of any relevant intelligence from other U.S. intelligence entities, (iii) interviews of witnesses essential to understand the raw information it had received or (iv) using any of the standard analytical tools typicallv employed by the FBI in evaluating raw intelligence,” the report concluded.

“Had it done so … the FBI would have learned that their own experienced Russia analysts had no information about Trump being involved with Russian leadership officials, nor were others in sensitive positions at the CIA, the NSA, and the Department of State aware of such evidence concerning the subject. In addition, FBI records prepared by Strzok in February and March 2017 show that at the time of the opening of Crossfire Hurricane, the FBI had no information in its holdings indicating that at any time during the campaign anyone in the Trump campaign had been in contact with any Russian intelligence officials,” it said.

“In the eighteen months leading up to the 2016 election, the FBI was required to deal with a number of proposed investigations that had the potential of affecting the election. In each of those instances, the FBI moved with considerable caution. In one such matter… FBI Headquarters and Department officials required defensive briefings to be provided to Clinton and other officials or candidates who appeared to be the targets of foreign interference,” it said. “In another, the FBI elected to end an investigation after one of its longtime and valuable CHSs went beyond what was authorized and made an improper and possibly illegal financial contribution to the Clinton campaign on behalf of a foreign entity as a precursor to a much larger donation being contemplated.”

“And in a third, the Clinton Foundation matter, both senior FBI and Department officials placed restrictions on how those matters were to be handled such that essentially no investigative activities occurred for months leading up to the election. These examples are also markedly different from the FBI’s actions with respect to other highly significant intelligence it received from a trusted foreign source pointing to a Clinton campaign plan to vilify Trump by tying him to Vladimir Putin so as to divert attention from her own concerns relating to her use of a private email server,” it said.

“Within days after opening Crossfire Hurricane, the FBI opened full investigations on four members of the Trump campaign team: George Papadopoulos, Carter Page, Paul Manafort, and Michael Flynn. No defensive briefing was provided to Trump or anyone in the campaign concerning the information received from Australia that suggested there might be some type of collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russians, either prior to or after these investigations were opened. Instead, the FBI began working on requests for the use of FISA authorities against Page and Papadopoulos.”

“Our investigation determined that the Crossfire Hurricane investigators did not and could not corroborate any of the substantive allegations contained in the Steele reporting. Nor was Steele able to produce corroboration for any of the reported allegations, even after being offered $1 million or more by the FBI for such corroboration.

“The FBI learned that Steele relied primarily on a U.S.-based Russian national, Igor Danchenko, to collect information that ultimately formed the core allegations found in the reports. Specifically, our investigation discovered that Danchenko himself had told another person that he (Danchenko) was responsible for 80% of the ‘intel’ and 50% of the analysis contained in the Steele Dossier.”

“In December 2016, the FBI identified Danchenko as Steele’s primary sub-source. Danchenko agreed to meet with the FBI and, under the protection of an immunity letter… the FBI conducted multiple interviews of Danchenko regarding, among other things, the information he provided to Steele,” it said. “Danchenko was unable to provide any corroborating evidence to support the Steele allegations, and further, described his interactions with his sub-sources as ‘rumor and speculation’ and conversations of a casual nature. Significant parts of what Danchenko told the FBI were inconsistent with what Steele told the FBI during his prior interviews in October 2016 and September 2017. At no time, however, was the FISC informed of these inconsistencies. Moreover, notwithstanding the repeated assertions in the Page FISA applications that Steele’s primary sub-source was based in Russia, Danchenko for many years had lived in the Washington, D.C. area.”

“The FBI knew in January 2017 that Danchenko had been the subject of an FBI counterintelligence investigation from 2009 to 2011. In late 2008, while Danchenko was employed by the Brookings Institution, he engaged two fellow employees about whether one of the employees might be willing or able in the future to provide classified information in exchange for money. According to one employee, Danchenko believed that he (the employee might be following a mentor into the incoming Obama administration and have access to classified information. During this exchange, Danchenko informed the employee that he had access to people who were willing to pay for classified information.”

“The FBI converted its investigation into a full investigation after learning that Danchenko (i) had been identified as an associate of two FBI counterintelligence subjects and (ii) had previous contact with the Russian Embassy and known Russian intelligence officers… at that earlier time, Agents had interviewed several former colleagues of Danchenko who raised concerns about Danchenko’s potential involvement with Russian intelligence. For example, one such colleague, who had interned at a U.S. intelligence agency, informed the Office that Danchenko frequently inquired about that person’s knowledge of a specific Russian military matter.”

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