Tuesday, May 16, 2023

FBI Faulted for Its Probe of Russian Meddling in 2016 Campaign; FBI, DOJ’s Trump-Russia ‘collusion’ Probe was ‘seriously flawed,’ no Basis in Evidence When Opened: Durham

Photo: Evan Vucci/Associated Press
WSJ: FBI Faulted for Its Probe of Russian Meddling in 2016 Campaign:
Four-year inquiry concludes bureau was rash in its handling of allegations linking Trump to Russia
A special counsel appointed in President Donald Trump’s administration issued a highly critical report on how the FBI handled allegations linking Mr. Trump to Russia in 2016, ending four years of work Monday after having lost the two criminal cases he took to trial.
In his 306-page report, John Durham, the former top federal prosecutor in Connecticut, repeated prior criticisms faulting the Federal Bureau of Investigation on a number of points. 
  • He said the bureau swiftly pursued a vague tip about potential contacts between a Trump campaign aide and Russia authorities in July 2016, even though, the report says, the bureau had no other information in its files to corroborate any such contact. The Justice Department’s inspector general in 2019 found similar flaws in the FBI inquiry but found the investigation was justified. 
  • He concluded the FBI was more cautious and skeptical of allegations of foreign influence on the Clinton campaign than on the Trump campaign in 2016. According to the report, the bureau didn’t aggressively pursue evidence of two instances in which foreign governments were potentially planning to contribute to Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign to gain influence. The speed with which the FBI opened the investigation into the Trump campaign “based on raw, unanalyzed, and uncorroborated intelligence also reflected a noticeable departure from how it approached” those other allegations, it said. The FBI provided briefings to the Clinton campaign, the report said, an approach it said stood in contrast to the lack of such briefings provided to the Trump campaign. 
  • He concluded that the FBI didn’t rigorously analyze information it received, especially from people and groups with political affiliation, prolonging the investigation and prompting the appointment of special counsel Robert Mueller. Mr. Durham said the FBI was overly reliant on investigative leads from Mr. Trump’s political opponents.
The FBI’s leadership has turned over since the Russia inquiry. FBI Director Christopher Wray instituted dozens of changes in 2019 in how the bureau seeks secret surveillance warrants and handles other matters after the bureau’s inspector general pointed out a series of flaws in its efforts to monitor a former Trump campaign adviser.
“Had those reforms been in place in 2016, the missteps identified in the report could have been prevented,” the FBI said in response to the report, which the bureau said “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.” --->READ MORE HERE
NY POST: FBI, DOJ’s Trump-Russia ‘collusion’ probe was ‘seriously flawed,’ no basis in evidence when opened: Durham
The FBI investigation of former President Donald Trump’s alleged collusion with Russia in 2016 was “seriously flawed” and had no basis in evidence, special counsel John Durham said in a report released Monday.
Durham concluded his four-year review with a scathing indictment of official bias in the probe, which fueled Pulitzer Prize-winning coverage of Trump’s theorized conspiracy with the Kremlin to win the White House.
“It is the Office’s assessment that the FBI discounted or willfully ignored material information that did not support the narrative of a collusive relationship between Trump and Russia,” Durham wrote.
“Similarly, the FBI Inspection Division Report says that the investigators ‘repeatedly ignore[d] or explain[ed] away evidence contrary to the theory the Trump campaign… had conspired with Russia… It appeared that … there was a pattern of assuming nefarious intent,'” he added.
“An objective and honest assessment of these strands of information should have caused the FBI to question not only the predication for [the investigation], but also to reflect on whether the FBI was being manipulated for political or other purposes. Unfortunately, it did not.”
Durham, the former Connecticut US attorney who was tapped to lead the review in 2019 by then-Attorney General Bill Barr, dug deep into the origins of Operation Crossfire Hurricane, but his final report didn’t urge new criminal prosecutions.
The FBI’s leak-ridden investigation began in summer 2016 and ultimately dragged on under special counsel Robert Mueller through more than half of Trump’s term in office — with a granular stream of leaks to the media creating the impression of damning evidence mounting against Trump. --->READ MORE HERE
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