By Peter Van BUREN
Hillary knew. She knew her campaign paid for Russian disinformation (including the alleged pee tape accusations) to be washed through a report by former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele. She knew the information was false but could potentially allow her to win the election. Hillary lied to the FBI about all this, and lied to the American public. Such was her appetite.
The FBI knew. They knew none of the information in the Steele Report could be corroborated, and they knew most of it was false. They turned a blind eye, purposefully and with the intent to defeat Donald Trump in the 2016 election, to basic investigative and tradecraft rules to use the corrupt information to surveil the Trump campaign via the FISA court. When Trump won the election anyway, the FBI continued to use this information to assault the loyalty and viability of President Trump and ultimately tried to use the information via the Robert Mueller investigation to impeach or indict Trump.
Only one person went to jail for all this, a minor player named Kevin Clinesmith for provided false info to the FISA court. No changes are planned for the FBI. No charges are to be brought against Hillary Clinton. The Deep State came within an eyelash of bringing down an unwanted president as surely as they are believed to have done in Dallas '63. Words were the weapon this time, not bullets.
These are the conclusions of the final Durham Report released last week. The report was written by former Connecticut U.S. Attorney John Durham, who was chosen in 2019 to examine the FBI probe known as « Operation Crossfire Hurricane. » Durham provides the only comprehensive review of what came to be called Russiagate, and shows how close to the edge our democracy came to falling into the abyss at the hands of the Deep State. It all sounds dramatic, as those terms have been bandied about so often and in so many contexts they may have lost some of their meaning. But make no mistake about it - the FBI tried to shape the 2016 election and failing, tried to run Trump out of office. If you thought the « Hunter Biden Letter, » the one signed by dozens of intelligence professionals calling the Biden Diaries potential Russian disinformation was just wrong, you should find the conclusions of the Durham report a horror show.
There was nothing true in the Steele Report, for example, this key paragraph: « Speaking in confidence to a compatriot in late July 2016, Source E, an ethnic Russian close associate of Republican US presidential candidate Donald TRUMP, admitted that there was a well-developed conspiracy of co-operation between them and the Russian leadership. This was managed on the TRUMP side by the Republican candidate's campaign manager, Paul MANAFORT, who was using foreign policy advisor, Carter PAGE, and others as intermediaries. The two sides had a mutual interest in defeating Democratic presidential candidate Hillary CLINTON, whom President PUTIN apparently both hated and feared. »
The FBI had no intelligence about Trump or others associated with the Trump campaign being in contact with Russian intelligence beyond Steele. Despite being unvetted and uncorroborated and coming from a single source with direct political ties to Trump's opponent, the FBI used such accusations to justify a full-spectrum surveillance operation against the Trump campaign, the first known such operation in American history. The FBI omitted the fact from its FISA application that Carter Page was in fact not a Russian agent but a paid source for the CIA who had been vetted by the Agency as loyal and reliable. They just lied and even when the lie could not be ignored the FBI lied more times to keep the surveillance application alive before the FISA court.
Durham found investigators « ignored exculpatory evidence, put too much stock in information provided by Trump's political opponents, and carried out surveillance without genuinely believing there was probable cause to do so. » « Throughout the duration of Crossfire Hurricane, facts and circumstances that were inconsistent with the premise that Trump and/or persons associated with the Trump campaign were involved in a collusive or conspiratorial relationship with the Russian government were ignored or simply assessed away, » Durham wrote. The FBI acted « without appropriate objectivity or restraint in pursuing allegations of collusion or conspiracy between a U.S. political campaign and a foreign power. »
It could not be more clear. The FBI knew what it was doing was wrong and did it anyway because the ends, defeating Trump, appeared to justify the means. No surprise, that has been the slogan behind every democratic election U.S. intelligence agencies have overthrown overseas, so why not follow the same logic when the tools of war came home to attempt to drive the 2016 election to Hillary Clinton.
We now know that almost all of the disinformation in the Steele Report came from one man, Igor Danchenko (whom the FBI had until 2011 investigated as a Russian spy.) Danchenko also fed disinfo to a Clinton supporter and registered foreign agent for Russia, Charles Dolan (who was known to but never interviewed by the FBI) to pass on the Steele to further obscure its origin. But according to the Durham report « The failure to identify the primary sub-source [Danchenko] early in the investigation's pursuit of FISA authority prevented the FBI from properly examining the possibility that some or much of the non-open source information contained in Steele's reporting was Russian disinformation (that wittingly or unwittingly was passed along to Steele), or that the reporting was otherwise not credible. »
Everyone knew. The Durham Report confirms on August 3, 2016, the Russiagate allegations were briefed to President Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, and FBI Director James Comey by CIA Director John Brennan at an Oval Office meeting. None of the men briefed, and none of the agencies involved, did anything to intercede in the FBI's efforts alongside the Clinton Campaign to manufacture collusion between Trump and Russia. Indeed, everyone allowed the falsehoods to linger into the Mueller Report and when that document concluded publicly there was no collusion between Trump and the Kremlin, pivot the same pile of falsehoods to claim Trump somehow obstructed an investigation which actually exonerated him, concluding without indictment as it did.
As for the FBI, the Durham report brutally tells us « the FBI failed to uphold their important mission of strict fidelity to the law. » That they « displayed, at best, a cavalier attitude towards accuracy and completeness. » That the Bureau « disregarded significant exculpatory information that should have prompted investigative restraint and re-examination... there were clear opportunities to have avoided the mistakes and to have prevented the damage resulting from their embrace of seriously flawed information that they failed to analyze and assess properly. » And that « senior FBI personnel displayed a serious lack of analytical rigor towards the information that they received, especially information received from politically affiliated persons and entities. » That « important aspects of the Crossfire Hurricane matter were seriously deficient. » The Report concludes « although recognizing that in hindsight much is clearer, much of this also seems to have been clear at the time. » As for recommendations, the Report states « more training sessions would likely prove to be a fruitless exercise if the FBI's guiding principles of Fidelity, Bravery and Integrity are not engrained in the hearts and minds of those sworn to meet the FBI's mission of »Protect[ing]the American People and Uphold[ing] the Constitution of the United States.«
Without the help of the FBI Russiagate would have been nothing but a flimsy Clinton campaign scam. Thus the Durham Report offers one over-arching implied conclusion: Be skeptical of the FBI and watch accusations of collusion and foreign interference closely around the 2024 election. Treason is indeed a twisty path.