DOJ Rules Should Change to Hold FBI Agents Accountable for Misusing Spying Powers, Suggests Special Counsel John Durham
The Department of Justice (DOJ) rules should change so that FBI agents lose their jobs when they lie to misuse the government’s spying powers in sensitive investigations, Special Counsel John Durham suggested to Congress.
Durham, who recently released a report on his review of the FBI’s handling of the 2016 Trump-Russia investigation, acknowledged that he found conduct that was wrong or “probably criminal,” but would have been difficult to prosecute in a court of law.
“The real difficulty, in my view, is trying to figure out how to hold people accountable for their conduct. It’s not a simple problem to solve,” he said, testifying to the House Judiciary Committee on June 21.
His report documented extensive misconduct, including repeated use of false, debunked, and unverified information, dismissing exculpatory information, failure to interview key witnesses—all pushing forward an investigation of supposed collusion between Russia and the presidential campaign of Donald Trump.
The misconduct, among other ills, resulted in illegal surveillance of Trump campaign aide Carter Page. The FBI snooped through Page’s electronic communications based on a FISA warrant prepared using fabricated allegations pushed into the FBI by operatives financed by the campaign of Trump’s opponent, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
“There were identified, documented, significant failures of a highly sensitive, unique investigation that was undertaken by the FBI,” Durham testified.
“I think the investigation clearly reveals that decisions that were made were made in one direction. If there was something that was inconsistent with the notion that Trump was involved in a ‘well-coordinated conspiracy’ with the Russians and whatnot, that information was largely discarded or ignored and I think, unfortunately, that’s what the facts bear out.”
Yet, as both Republicans and Democrats on the committee pointed out, Durham didn’t pursue charges against the main actors in the Russia investigation, codenamed Crossfire Hurricane.
When questioned on that point, Durham said he was following the DOJ guidelines that say a prosecutor should only bring charges if he’s confident he could prove them beyond reasonable doubt, secure a conviction on trial, and have it upheld on appeal.
“There’s conduct that was probably criminal, but you couldn’t prove it. And that’s true here. It appears in other instances as well,” he said.
Rep. Cliff Bentz (R-Ore.) drilled down on that point:
“You well may have found, and
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