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Durham: Feds had no real evidence to investigate Russian collusion, monitor Trump campaign

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Former Special Counsel for the United States Department of Justice John Durham testified Wednesday that the federal government had no substantive basis to begin its 2016 probe into Russian collusion with the Trump campaign

During the Trump administration, former Attorney General Bill Barr tapped John Durham to investigate Crossfire-Hurricane, the name for the FBI probe into alleged collusion between Russia and the campaign of then-candidate Donald Trump.

Durham said “the FBI was too willing to accept and use politically funded and uncorroborated opposition research like the Steele Dossier.” That dossier became the foundation for the FBI’s investigation but was almost certainly a political document funded by the Clinton campaign.

“The FBI relied on the dossier in FISA warrant applications knowing that it likely originated from the Clinton campaign,” Durham testified. “It did so even after the President of the United States, the FBI and CIA Directors, and others received briefings about intelligence suggesting that there was a Clinton campaign plan under way to stir up a scandal tying Trump to Russia. The accuracy of the intelligence was uncertain, but the FBI failed to analyze or assess the implications of this intelligence in any meaningful way.”

The testimony Wednesday largely echoed Durham’s more than 300-page report released earlier this year.

Durham also testified that his investigatory team “found troubling violations of law and policy in the conduct of highly consequential investigations directed at members of a presidential campaign and, ultimately, a presidential administration.”

Durham said in his testimony that FBI officials repeatedly abused the FISA system to improperly expand their authority.

“Multiple FBI personnel who signed or assisted in preparing renewal applications for that same FISA warrant acknowledged that they did not believe that the target was a threat to national security, much less a knowing agent of a foreign power,” he testified. “It appears that FBI leadership dismissed those concerns.”

Democratic lawmakers took the opportunity to blast Durham’s investigation, claiming no substantial new information was brought to light.

“After four years, thousands of employee hours, and more than $6.5 million in taxpayer funds, Special Counsel Durham failed to uncover any wrongdoing that Justice Department Inspector General Horowitz had not already found in 2019,” Nadler said. “Mr. Durham brought just two cases to trial and lost them both: both were acquitted in mere hours.”

Republicans have shared similar frustrations with the lack of potency or prosecutions in Durham’s findings.

Durham said the FBI had a pattern of mistakes that could pose a risk to national security.

“Many of the most significant issues documented in the report, including those relating to lack of investigative discipline, failure to take logical investigative steps, and bias, are relevant to important national security interests,” he testified. “If repeated or left unaddressed, these issues could result in significant national security risks and further erode public faith in our justice system.”

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