FBI agents, including some directly involved in the Trump-Russia collusion investigation, were apologetic and “emotional” about the conduct of their leaders in that probe, special counsel John Durham told Congress in testimony Wednesday.
The FBI’s conduct was “sobering,” according to Durham, who last month released his report on the origins of the bureau’s “Crossfire Hurricane” investigation into whether President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign conspired with the Russian government to help Trump win the election.
“Why do you say sobering?” Rep. Mike Johnson, R-La., asked Durham during the hearing by the House Judiciary Committee.
“I have had any number of FBI agents who I have worked with over the years, some of who have retired, some who are still in place, who have come to me and apologized for the manner in which that investigation was undertaken,” Durham said of the Trump-Russia probe.
“I take that seriously. These are good, hardworking, the majority of people in the FBI, who swear under oath to abide by the law,” Durham added. “That typifies, exemplifies, the concern here. There were investigative activities that were followed here and not followed here which raise real concerns about whether the law was followed.”
Durham’s written report concludes, in part:
Based on the review of Crossfire Hurricane and related intelligence activities, we conclude that the [Justice] Department and the FBI failed to uphold their mission of strict fidelity to the law in connection with certain events and activities described in this report.
Durham’s report faulting the investigation also notes that in summer 2016, then-CIA Director John Brennan briefed top officials—including President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, and FBI Director James Comey—about Democrat Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign having approved a plan to tie Trump, her Republican opponent, to Russia.
House Judiciary Chairman Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, asked whether Comey as FBI director shared this information about the Clinton campaign’s involvement with FBI agents assigned to the Crossfire Hurricane investigation.
Durham responded, “No.”
Jordan followed by asking: “Can you tell the committee what happened when you took that referral memo and shared it with one of those agents, specifically supervisory agent No. 1?”
Durham recounted the story of an FBI agent who became emotional.
“We interviewed the first supervisor of [the] Crossfire investigation, the operational person. We showed him the intelligence information. He indicated he had never seen it before,” Durham said. “He immediately became emotional. He got up and left the room with his lawyer. He spent some time in the hallway. He came back.”
Jordan asked: “He was ticked off, wasn’t he? Because this is something he should have had as an agent on the case, important information that the director of the FBI kept from people doing the investigation.”
Durham replied: “The information was kept from him.”
Rep. Russell Fry, R-S.C., asked Durham whether top FBI officials were predisposed to target Trump.
Durham, previously a Trump-appointed U.S. attorney for Connecticut, said his findings as special counsel back that up.
“Confirmation bias, as alluded to, has to do with our own human tendency to accept things we already think are true and to reject anything else,” Durham told lawmakers on the committee, adding:
In this instance, there were any number of significant red flags that were raised that were simply ignored. If it was evidence that was inconsistent with the narrative [against Trump], they didn’t pay attention to it, they didn’t explore it, they didn’t take the logical investigative steps that should have been taken.
This story is developing and will be updated here or in subsequent reports.
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