On the one hand the Durham report trashes the entire Russia collusion hoax. It’s a 300 page scathing takedown of the abuses and abuse of process that defined the whole thing.
For example, Durham notes, “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 typically employed by the FBI in evaluating raw intelligence. Had it done so, again as set out in Sections IV.A.3.b and c, 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.”
TLDR: this was a political witch hunt that did not follow even the most basic FBI standards and procedures.
Little here will be new to those who have followed the developments over the years and the report is available here, among many other places. Durham spends a lot of time delving into the procedural failings of the FBI. In response, the FBI replied with a terse message that can be summed up as, “Everything is fine.”
“The conduct in 2016 and 2017 that Special Counsel Durham examined was the reason that current FBI leadership already implemented dozens of corrective actions, which have now been in place for some time. Had those reforms been in place in 2016, the missteps identified in the report could have been prevented. This report reinforces the importance of ensuring the FBI continues to do its work with the rigor, objectivity, and professionalism the American people deserve and rightly expect.”
Uh-huh. FISA abuses? Also fixed.
The Durham report can be ready as a very exhaustive internal report of failings, that is also very blinkered for anything beyond the confines of the actions of the FBI and the DOJ. All the familiar names, Page, Strzok, Steele, McCabe make an appearance, So do Dolan and Danchenko. Durham documents double standards in investigative protocols, especially when it comes to the Clintons, but that’s where it effectively ends making the whole thing effectively meaningless.
Durham offers little that’s new. Who was pulling the strings above the level of some top FBI people? Does Durham seriously expect us to believe that the likes of Strzok or McCabe initiated all of this on their own because they hated Trump? What were the interfaces between the Clinton-Obama camps and the DOJ people? These are the really significant questions and, unsurprisingly, the report punts. Its goal is to clean up the FBI rather than to hold the political operatives behind the scenes accountable.
And there, much as I predicted over the years, it ends.
Durham wasn’t going to fix anything. Neither is the rest of the system. The Trump administration had the ability to declassify most of the materials of the original investigation and it failed to do so. The Durham report largely follows up on the work of a few courageous administration people and journalists who have spent years putting all of this together.
Accountability is fundamentally lacking, but considering that Durham had to bring and try cases in D.C., with disastrous results, that’s not surprising.
So in the end we’re back to “some people did something”.
Durham will have his closing lap, appearing before House committees, and then he and everyone will move on. The unfortunately precedent of Watergate x 1000 has been set. And genies don’t go back in the bottle once you let them out. Democrats have mainly moved on from the Russia hoax to another manufactured scandals and investigations. And, if anything, the next time they use the DOJ to go after a presidential candidate, they’ll be even better at it.
Unless a conservative administration actually changes the rules, aggressively declassifies documents, and tears away the facades, this will happen again.