The Obama administration possessed no real evidence that then-candidate Donald Trump colluded with Russian government officials when it launched its investigation into the Trump campaign leading up to the 2016 election, according to a new bombshell report.
On Monday, Special Counsel John Durham released the findings of his years-long investigation into the origins of the FBI’s surveillance of the Trump campaign in the months before, during, and after the 2016 presidential contest. Despite the agency’s claims that the inquiry — commonly referred to as Crossfire Hurricane — was predicated on the belief that Trump’s campaign was colluding with Russian officials leading up to the election, Durham’s report found the FBI had no evidence to warrant such an investigation.
“Indeed, based on the evidence gathered in the multiple exhaustive and costly federal investigations of these matters, including the instant investigation, neither the 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 reads.
The baseless investigation into the Trump campaign started after Australian intelligence notified the FBI about “concerning comments” from George Papadopoulos, an unpaid foreign policy advisor for the Trump team, about the Russians purportedly having dirt on Hillary Clinton’s campaign. In his report, Durham details the recklessness with which leading FBI officials, such as then-Deputy Director Andrew McCabe and then-Deputy Assistant Director for Counterintelligence Peter Strzok, launched Crossfire Hurricane and further revealed that the FBI did not possess evidence of Trump-Russia collusion as late as March 2017.
The FBI launched a full investigation “without (i) any significant review of its own intelligence databases, (ii) collection and examination of any relevant intelligence from other U.S. intelligence agencies, (iii) interviews of witnesses essential to understand the raw information it had received or (iv) using any of the standard analytical tools typically employed by the FBI in evaluating raw intelligence,” the report reads. “In addition, FBI records prepared by Strzok in February and March 2017 show that at the time of the opening of Crossfire Hurricane, the FBI had no information in its holdings indicating that at any time during the campaign anyone in the Trump campaign had been in contact with any Russian intelligence officials.”
Durham furthermore notes how the FBI’s launching of Crossfire Hurricane — which was “based on raw, unanalyzed, and uncorroborated intelligence” — also reflected “a noticeable departure from how it approached prior matters involving possible attempted foreign election interference plans aimed at the Clinton campaigns.” In one instance, “FBI Headquarters and Department officials required defensive briefings to be provided to Clinton and other officials or candidates who appeared to be targets of foreign interference,” according to the report.
Meanwhile, the FBI did not notify Trump or his team when launching inquiries into campaign officials such as Papadopoulos, Carter Page, Paul Manafort, and Michael Flynn.
Durham’s report also highlights the baselessness of the Steele Dossier, which the FBI used in its application to acquire a FISA warrant to spy on the Trump campaign. In the months leading up to the 2016 election, Perkins Coie, a law firm acting on behalf of the Clinton campaign, hired Fusion GPS to conduct opposition research on Trump and his affiliates. Led by Glenn Simpson, Fusion GPS acquired the help of former British spy Christopher Steele to “investigate Trump’s ties to Russia.” On July 5, several weeks before the launch of Crossfire Hurricane, Steele provided the FBI with a series of derogatory stories concerning Trump’s alleged ties to Russia. These reports are what became known as the Steele Dossier.
“As noted, it was not until mid-September that the Crossfire Hurricane investigators received several of the Steele Reports,” the Durham report reads. “Within days of their receipt, the unvetted and unverified Steele Reports were used to support probable cause in the FBI’s FISA applications targeting Page.”
Durham ultimately concluded the FBI failed to corroborate any of its key claims regarding the Dossier, writing, “Our investigation determined that the Crossfire Hurricane investigators did not and could not corroborate any of the substantive allegations contained in the Steele reporting.”