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Durham Report: FBI Launched Investigation Into Trump-Russia Collusion Despite a Lack of Evidence

Published: May 18, 2023
Former U.S. President Donald Trump during a round of golf at his Turnberry course on May 2, 2023 in Turnberry, Scotland. (Image: Robert Perry/Getty Images)

According to a highly anticipated United States Department of Justice report, compiled by Special Counsel John Durham that was released on May 12, American intelligence agencies had no evidence of collusion between Russia and Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign when it launched an investigation, dubbed “Crossfire Hurricane” targeting the now former president.  

“Based on the evidence gathered in the multiple exhaustive and costly federal investigations of these matters, including the instant investigation, neither U.S. law enforcement nor the intelligence Community appears to have possessed any actual evidence of collusion in their holdings at the commencement of the Crossfire Hurricane investigation,” the report found.

On July 31, 2016, at the direction of Deputy Director Andrew McCabe and Deputy Assistant Director for Counterintelligence Peter Strzok the Crossfire Hurricane investigation was launched. 

“In text message before and after the opening of Crossfire Hurricane, the two had referred to [Trump] as ‘loathsome,’ ‘an idiot,’ someone who should lose to Clinton ‘1,00,000,000 – 0,’ and a person who Strozk wrote ‘[w]e’ll stop’ from becoming president,” the report reveals.

Durham found that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) launched the investigation without “any significant review of its own intelligence databases … collection and examination of any relevant intelligence from other U.S. intelligence entities … interviews of witnesses essential to understand the raw information it had received or … [used] any of the standard analytical tools typically employed by the FBI in evaluating raw intelligence.”

Had they done so 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,” Durham concluded. 


‘A noticeable departure’

Durham commented that the speed and manner in which the Crossfire Hurricane investigation was launched was “a noticeable departure” from how the agency typically approached prior matters involving attempted foreign interference plans aimed at the Clinton campaign.

He noted that in the 18 months leading up to the 2016 election, the FBI in particular, dealt with a number of proposed investigations that “had potential of affecting the election” however, the FBI proceeded with caution in each of these instances, unlike how they pursued Trump.

Durham cites three investigations into the Clinton campaign that were not pursued by the FBI including a “possibly illegal financial contribution to the Clinton campaign on behalf of a foreign entity.”

“Both senior FBI and Department officials placed restrictions on how those matters were to be handled such that essentially no investigative activities occurred for months leading up to the election,” Durham wrote, adding that, “These examples are also markedly different from the FBI’ s actions with respect to other highly significant intelligence it received from a trusted foreign source pointing to a Clinton campaign plan to vilify Trump by tying him to Vladimir Putin so as to divert attention from her own concerns relating to her use of a private email server.”

While ignoring matters concerning the Clinton campaign, the FBI, within days after opening Crossfire Hurricane, “opened full investigations on four members of the Trump campaign team.”

The sole information used to justify the official investigation was uncorroborated information received from Australia “that suggested there might be some type of collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russians.”


The Steele Dossier  

The now infamous Steele Dossier was provided to the FBI in early July, 2016, however “for unexplained reasons” only made its way to the Crossfire Hurricane investigators in mid-September. 

The information, which has been characterized as “opposition research” by the Clinton campaign, was found to have been compiled on behalf of the Clinton campaign by Igor Danchenko, a Russian citizen and U.S. resident who works as a Eurasia political risk, defense and economics analyst. This reveals that the Clinton campaign was working with a Russian citizen in an attempt to discredit Trump.

“Our investigation determined that the Crossfire Hurricane investigators did not and could not corroborate any of the substantive allegations contained in the Steele reporting,” the report reads, adding that, “Nor was Steele able to produce corroboration for any of the reported allegations, even after being offered $1 million or more by the FBI for such corroboration.”

When interviewed by the FBI in January, 2017, Danchenko was unable to corroborate “any of the substantive allegations in the Reports,” and characterized the information as “rumor and speculation” and a product of “casual conversation.”

“The FBI attempted, over time, to investigate and analyze the Steele Reports but ultimately was not able to confirm or corroborate any of the substantive allegations contained in those reports,” Durham wrote.