By Max Jones / Original to ScheerPost
A four-year investigation conducted by U.S. Special Counsel John Durham has concluded that the FBI lacked “actual evidence” to investigate Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign and relied too heavily on unproven claims in the Steele Dossier provided by Trump’s political opponents.
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Here is an excerpt from the report detailing the FBI’s “confirmation bias:”
“Throughout the duration of Crossfire Hurricane, facts and circumstances that were
inconsistent with the premise that Trump and/or persons associated with the Trump campaign were involved in a collusive or conspiratorial relationship with the Russian government were ignored or simply assessed away. Indeed … from even before the opening of Crossfire Hurricane, some of those most directly involved in the subsequent investigation had (i) expressed their open disdain for Trump (ii) asked about when they would open an investigation on Trump, and (iii) asserted that they would prevent Trump from becoming President. As discussed throughout this report, our investigation revealed that the stated basis for opening a full investigation “to determine whether individual(s) associated with the Trump campaign [were] witting of and/or coordinating activities with the Government of Russia” 1746 was seriously flawed. Again, the FBI’s failure to critically analyze information that ran counter to the narrative of a Trump/Russia collusive relationship exhibited throughout Crossfire Hurricane is extremely troublesome. The evidence of the FBI’s confirmation bias in the matter, includes, at a minimum, the following information that was simply ignored or in some fashion rationalized away:
- The Australian diplomats told Crossfire Hurricane investigators that Papadopoulos never stated that he had any direct contact with the Russians nor did he provide any explicit information about an offer of assistance.
- There was a complete lack of information from the Intelligence Community that corroborated the hypothesis upon which the Crossfire Hurricane investigation was predicated.
- The FBI generally ignored the significant exculpatory information provided by Carter Page, George Papadopoulos, and Trump Senior Foreign Policy Advisor-! during recorded conversations with FBI CHSs.
- The FBI failed to pursue investigative leads that were inconsistent with their theory of the case (e.g., Page’s recorded denials of having any relationship with Paul Manafort, a fact about which there was available evidence).
- The FBI failed to take Page up on the written offer he made to Director Corney to be interviewed about the allegations contained in Michael Isikoff s Yahoo 1 News article and instead opted to seek FISA surveillance of Page.
- The FBI was willing to make use of the completely unvetted and uncorroborated Steele reporting in multiple FISA applications targeting a U.S. citizen, even after the Crossfire Hurricane investigators had determined that there were major conflicts between the reporting of Steele and his primary sub-source, Igor Danchenko – conflicts the FBI incredibly failed to resolve.
- The Crossfire Hurricane investigators did not even ask Steele about his role in providing information to Michael Isikoff as contained in the September 23, 2016 Yahoo! News article – information that essentially accused Carter Page of colluding with the Russians. And thereafter the same investigators demonstrated a willingness to contort the plain language of the article to suggest it was not Steele but Steele’s employers who had given the information to Isikoff.
- The FBI ignored the fact that at no time before, during or after Crossfire Hurricane were investigators able to corroborate a single substantive allegation in the Steele dossier reporting.
- There was a complete failure on the part of the FBI to even examine – never mind resolve – the serious counterespionage issues surrounding Steele’s primary subsource, Igor Danchenko.
- The FBI leadership essentially disregarded the Clinton Plan intelligence, which it received at almost the exact same time as the Australian Paragraph Five information. This was despite the fact that at precisely the same time as the Clinton Plan intelligence was received (i) the Clinton campaign made public statements tying the DNC computer hack to Russian attempts to help Trump get elected, (ii) the FBI was receiving the Clinton campaign-funded Steele Reports, and (iii) the Clinton campaign-funded Alfa Bank allegations were being prepared for delivery to the media and the FBI.
- The Crossfire Hurricane investigators essentially ignored information they had received as early as October 2016 regarding Charles Dolan, a longtime Democratic operative with ties to the Clintons who also possessed significant ties to Russian government figures who would appear in the Steele reporting, and never interviewed him.
- The Crossfire Hurricane investigators provided only partial, and in some instances misleading, information to Department attorneys working on the Page FISA applications while withholding other highly relevant information from those attorneys and the FISC that might cast real doubt on their probable cause assertions.
The report concluded:
“Given the foregoing, and viewing the facts in a light most favorable to the Crossfire Hurricane investigators, it seems highly likely that, at a minimum, confirmation bias played a significant role in the FBI’s acceptance of extraordinarily serious allegations derived from uncorroborated information that had not been subjected to the typical exacting analysis employed by the FBI and other members of the Intelligence Community. In short, it is the Office’s assessment that the FBI discounted or willfully ignored material information that did not support the narrative of a collusive relationship between Trump and Russia. Similarly, the FBI Inspection Division Report says that the investigators ‘repeatedly ignore[d] or explain[ed] away evidence contrary to the theory the Trump campaign … had conspired with Russia …. It appeared that … there was a pattern of assuming nefarious intent.’ An objective and honest assessment of these strands of information should have caused the FBI to question not only the predication for Crossfire Hurricane, but also to reflect on whether the FBI was being manipulated for political or other purposes. Unfortunately, it did not.”
You can read the entire report here.