Special Counsel John Durham Testifies on FBI Misconduct and Crossfire Hurricane Investigation
Special Counsel John Durham testified behind closed doors to the House Intelligence Committee on Tuesday, addressing misconduct at the FBI and during the Crossfire Hurricane investigation.
Last month, Durham released his report, alleging that the FBI and Department of Justice had no basis for launching the investigation into alleged ties between Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign and Russia.
Bipartisan Effort to Address FBI Wrongdoing
The committee conducted a bipartisan investigation into the allegations of FBI wrongdoing. Chairman Mike Turner (R-OH) and ranking member Jim Himes (D-CT) held a press conference after the hearing, stating that it was a productive session.
Durham expressed concerns about the bureau and called for reforms within the DOJ, according to lawmakers.
“He was very forthcoming and sharing with us, and I think that we were able to get some information that would be very helpful for us and the work that we have to do on both [Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act] renewal, FISA reforms, and also reform issues with the FBI,” Turner said.
Himes mentioned that many of the committee members’ questions to Durham focused on the differences between Durham’s report and Inspector General Michael Horowitz’s report.
“If you read either the IG report, and I hope you do, and special counsel Durham’s report, and I hope you do, you’ll discover that the conflict is not so much in the black letter text of those reports; it’s in the expectations that were built around those reports,” Himes said. “So, if you believed that the behavior of the FBI was perfect in Crossfire Hurricane, you were sorely disappointed. If you believe the special counsel Durham was going to uncover a massive deep-state conspiracy, you were disappointed.”
Reforms Needed for FISA Renewal
Both Turner and Himes emphasized the need for FISA reforms in order for it to be renewed later this year. While they acknowledged that the FBI has made some reforms, they believe further changes are necessary and should be codified into law.
Himes stated that the most important reform is limiting the use of query terms for U.S. citizens among FISA Section 702 data collected by the National Security Agency.
“The minimalist position would be, let’s just do that. Of course, the maximalist position is probably don’t let the FBI view U.S. Person Queries or make them subject to a judicial warrant,” Himes said. “Where we fall at the end of the day between those two extremes, if you will, I think that’s still to be determined.”
Misconduct at the FBI and Politicization within the DOJ
Turner mentioned that Durham expressed to the committee that some of the misconduct at the FBI was attributed to individual bad actors, while some of it was more systemic.
Himes clarified that neither Horowitz nor Durham found politicization within the DOJ. Instead, they found confirmation bias, which, although concerning, is different from the agency being politicized.
Himes emphasized the need to ensure that the FBI acts in a manner that cannot be perceived as political, stating that there is still work to be done in that regard.
Upcoming Testimony and Appreciation for Durham’s Cooperation
Durham is scheduled to testify to the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday, which is expected to be a more politicized hearing. However, both members of the Intelligence Committee expressed gratitude that Durham came to their closed-door committee first.
“I think that having Mr. Durham in this environment allowed him to be very forthcoming and very sharing of his thoughts and ideas,” Turner said. “Certainly, tomorrow has a different purpose. But I do think that he was very comfortable at this point, with the commitment that our members had on a bipartisan and professional basis to deal with his work, to share with us.”
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