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Trump-era special counsel's final report criticizes FBI's Russia probe

Special counsel John Durham, the prosecutor appointed to investigate potential government wrongdoing in the early days of the Trump-Russia probe, arrives to the E. Barrett Prettyman Federal Courthouse in Washington on May 16, 2022.
Evan Vucci
/
AP
Special counsel John Durham, the prosecutor appointed to investigate potential government wrongdoing in the early days of the Trump-Russia probe, arrives to the E. Barrett Prettyman Federal Courthouse in Washington on May 16, 2022.

The special counsel-led investigation looking into the FBI's probe of Russian interference in the 2016 Trump campaign has ended, the Department of Justice announced Monday, and in a 306-page final report, concludes the FBI did not have enough intelligence to merit a full Trump-Russia investigation.

Read the report below.

The report says that investigation — which was originally called the "Crossfire Hurricane" — was treated different from how cases related to Donald Trump's then-opponent, Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton, had been handled.

"The speed and manner in which the FBI opened and investigated Crossfire Hurricane during the presidential election season based on raw, unanalyzed and uncorroborated intelligence also reflected a noticeable departure from how it approached prior matters involving possible attempted foreign election interference plans aimed at the Clinton campaign," the report says.

John Durham was tapped in May 2019 by then-Attorney General Bill Barr to lead a review of the genesis of the investigation into connections between the Trump campaign and Russia. It became a criminal investigation — though only three people faced criminal action. In 2020, Durham was appointed as a special counsel.

The report concludes that the DOJ and FBI "failed to uphold their important mission of strict fidelity to the law."

"Our investigation also revealed that senior FBI personnel displayed a serious lack of analytical rigor towards the information they they received, especially information received from politically affiliated persons and entities," the report says.

Durham says in particular, there was a significant reliance on investigative leads provided by, or funded by, political opponents of Trump.

"The Department did not adequately examine or question thee materials and the motivations of those providing them," the report says.

The report does not recommend any major changes on the guidelines and policies that the DOJ and FBI currently have in place. Instead, the one recommendation provided by the report is to assign an official who is responsible for challenging the steps taken in a politically sensitive investigation.

The FBI responded to the report Monday, saying the agency has already implemented "dozens" of reforms in their process.

"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," the FBI said.

Attorney General Merrick Garland received the report from Durham Friday, and it was sent to Congress on Monday afternoon, a Justice Department official said.

Republican Rep. Jim Jordan, the chair of the House Judiciary Committee, tweeted Monday and said the committee had reached out to the DOJ to have Durham testify next week.

Over the course of the investigation, Durham's team said they conducted more than 480 interviews, reviewed more than one million documents and served more than 190 subpoenas.

The release of the report could tie into the upcoming election. During the 2020 election, Trump made public statements, without citing evidence, that Durham's investigation would reveal that the FBI was corrupt and biased against him.

Trump, who is currently the GOP front-runner in the 2024 election, responded to the findings on his social media platform Truth Social:

WOW! After extensive research, Special Counsel John Durham concludes the FBI never should have launched the Trump-Russia Probe! In other words, the American Public was scammed, just as it is being scammed right now by those who don't want to see GREATNESS for AMERICA!

Read the report:

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Deepa Shivaram
Deepa Shivaram is a multi-platform political reporter on NPR's Washington Desk.