On Wednesday, Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee held a hearing with former special counsel John Durham, who was appointed by Donald Trump’s one-time attorney general William Barr to investigate the origins of the FBI’s investigation into Russian ties to Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign.
Ultimately, the Durham investigation — long hyped by Trump, Republican House leaders like Judiciary Chairman Jim Jordan (R-OH), and their allies as ironclad proof that the earlier Robert Mueller probe was corrupt and political — was a flop, securing only one plea deal, a couple indictments that led to exoneration, and a recommendation of some minor process changes at the FBI, while failing to find any systemic bias or false conclusions in the Mueller investigation.
Judiciary Committee ranking member Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY) pointed this out in a blistering opening statement before Durham was sworn in.
“At the end of the day, Mr. Durham never found what he was looking for,” said Nadler. “He cannot dispute a single conclusion in the Mueller report. He cannot prove a magnificent ‘deep state’ conspiracy, he cannot say that the FBI investigation into the Trump campaign’s many ties to Russia never should’ve happened. And again, I can see why this would be disappointing to some. Instead of owning up to his failure, the Durham report doubles down on theories that lost spectacularly before two unanimous juries. The report also references classified material that’s been called likely disinformation, played a series of accusations against the former president’s perceived enemies. By presenting a so-called finding in this way, swiping a Republican bogeyman and hiding inconvenient truths in footnotes, the Durham report gives Donald Trump one last talking point.”
“It did not have to be this way,” Nadler continued. “It may be hard to remember, but at the outset of the Durham investigation, Mr. Durham was a well-respected career prosecutor with a solid reputation. The attorney general is supposed to appoint the special counsel to prevent the appearance of politicization in a criminal investigation. Mr. Durham could well have lived up to that expectation. Instead, what we got is a political exercise that operated with ethical ambiguity and existed to perpetuate Donald Trump’s unfounded claims. The investigation fulfilled its political objectives, but did real damage to a department that is still recovering from the excesses of the Trump administration. And despite his best efforts, a reckoning is well underway.”
“Do not be misled,” concluded Nadler. “Former President Donald Trump is not a victim. He did this to himself. For all of its flaws, the Durham report does not show that anyone else is responsible for the president’s legal woes, past, present, or future. Anyone that tells you otherwise is simply making it up.”