In the End, the Leopards Who Launched the Durham Investigation Ate His Face

I’m visiting family, so my longer analysis of John Durham’s appearance before Congress will have to wait until the weekend. Here’s my live thread of the hearing.

The arc of the hearing should begin with Durham’s final answer (in response to an insane rant from Harriet Hageman, Liz Cheney’s replacement in Congress), in which Durham claimed that if people believed there is a two-tiered system of justice, the nation cannot stand.

Before he provided this answer, Adam Schiff, to whom many Democratic members deferred, had noted that in Durham’s comparison of Hillary’s treatment by the FBI with Trump’s in his report, Durham had completely ignored the way Jim Comey had tanked Hillary’s campaign, first in July and then again in October 2016. Durham had ignored, in his treatment, the most consequential events in the 2016 campaign, arguably the decisive set of events. (As I’ve noted, even CNN concluded that Durham’s actual evidence, as opposed to his conclusions, actually shows that even on other investigations, Hillary was treated worse than Trump.)

So Durham, after having been called out for ignoring the way the FBI may have decided the election against Hillary, nevertheless reiterated his false claim that he showed the FBI applying a two-tiered system of justice against Trump.

Then Durham said that if people believe his false claim, it will sink the nation. In his final answer, Durham effectively said that if people believe his false claim, it will sink democracy in the United States.

With that endpoint in mind, let’s review what happened leading up to it.

An important recurring theme from most Democrats is that Merrick Garland respected Durham’s independence. Democrats repeatedly got Durham to confirm that Garland had never interfered with Durham’s independence and even got him to endorse the independence of Special Counsels, generally. As I predicted, Durham’s testimony will undercut GOP efforts to interfere in Jack Smith’s ongoing investigations into Trump and some Republicans in Congress.

Democrats also repeatedly laid out how Durham had spent $6.5 million and found no new crime.

A really central moment came — in advance of a procedural vote to censure Schiff on the floor — where Schiff laid out that his prior claims about the Russian investigation all proved true. Both with Trump’s public call for Russia to find Hillary’s emails and Don Jr’s enthusiastic acceptance of an offer of dirt on Hillary, Trump invited Russia’s help. He got the help he asked for in the form of further hacking of Hillary. And Trump made use of it, by relying on the stolen emails over and over again.

At one point, Schiff said that if you don’t want to call Paul Manafort handing internal campaign information to a Russian spy “collusion,” then you could just call it Republicans cheating with the enemy.

In another exchange, Schiff laid out how George Papadopoulos’ prediction of help from Russia came true, in the form of the release of stolen emails via cut-outs. Durham (whose claim to be aware of Trump’s emails and public news coverage was selective throughout), claimed to have no awareness that the Russian operation released stolen emails via three different cut-outs — dcleaks, Guccifer 2.0, and WikiLeaks. He had no idea, about that, he claimed!

In short, the Durham hearing gave Schiff (and others, but especially Schiff) several opportunities to lay out just how damning the Mueller investigation results were, particularly as compared to Durham’s own flimsy outcome. Each time, Durham claimed ignorance of key details of the Mueller Report.

That said, Durham was under oath. Throughout the hearing, he stopped short of making claims that he had — while still a prosecutor with near-total immunity — made in his report. For example, Durham did not state, in the hearing, that Hillary had a plan to frame Donald Trump, as opposed to simply pointing out his very real Russian ties.  He even, in the hearing, acknowledged that Igor Danchenko did not hide his ties to Charles Dolan, when asked. MoJo is out claiming that Durham lied under oath, but the way Durham backed off key claims he made in his report is far more telling about his witting actions. The claims Durham did not repeat under oath are the ones deserving of further scrutiny.

Which brings us to the three MAGAt members of Congress who questioned Durham after a break for votes, too late for any Democrat to rebut Durham.

First, there was Hageman’s rant.

Then, Andy Biggs stated as fact that there were crimes Durham had not prosecuted, including immigration crimes by Igor Danchenko. Biggs also stated that, “the division in this country, I can trace back, it is the Steele dossier paid for by Hillary Clinton.” Of course, the Durham Report provided yet more evidence that the disinformation in the dossier came from Oleg Deripaska, so I guess Andy Biggs is congratulating Deripaska for the damage that he did to the country. And doubling down on that damage.

The most heated challenge to Durham, however, came from Matt Gaetz (again, after a half-hour break for votes; somehow Gaetz got two chances to question Durham). Gaetz demanded to know how Durham was unable to find Joseph Mifsud — the guy whose comments to Trump’s Coffee Boy started this whole investigation — for an interview, even after Durham patiently described that no US prosecutor can demand subpoena compliance for suspected Russian spies located overseas. Durham described that, as happened with former counterintelligence investigative subject Sergei Millian, Mifsud’s lawyer refused to disclose Mifsud’s location.

In response, Gaetz accused Durham of being part of a cover-up.

Durham was like the Washington Generals, Gaetz accused, paid to lose the game. Because Durham couldn’t find someone against whom the SSCI Report showed ties of Russian intelligence ties, Gaetz suggested that Durham had, from the start, planned to cover up a Deep State operation against Donald Trump.

This whole thing was an op. This wasn’t bumbling fumbling FBI that couldn’t get FISA straight. This was an op. It begs the question whether you were really trying to figure that out.

As he did in response to a parallel line of questioning from Cori Bush and even Jerry Nadler, Durham insisted on the good faith of his team. He talked about the four years he spent away from his family to conduct this investigation that made America less safe.

I don’t doubt he believes his team engaged in a good faith investigation. As he said, sometimes confirmation bias can undermine even good faith actions.

The Durham investigation was kicked off in 2018 when a bunch of Tea Partiers like Gaetz gave Papadopoulos an opportunity to float conspiracy theories in the Congressional record. That’s literally what sent Durham and Barr on a junket together to Italy, the failed attempt to find Joseph Mifsud that Gaetz presents as proof that Durham was just part of a Deep State plot.

Durham ended his investigation with the leopards who kicked it off eating his face.

I’m not happy that more of Durham’s lies weren’t exposed at today’s hearing. The hearing could have been far more effective, as an effort to get to the truth.

But I can think of no more fitting way to end Durham’s four year effort to chase the conspiracy theories of George Papadopoulos than to have Matt Gaetz accuse him of being part of a Deep State op.

Durham set off in 2019 to chase down the conspiracy theories of people with close ties to Matt Gaetz. And Durham ended it by having Gaetz accuse Durham of the same things of which Durham accused others.

The leopard always eats your face.

Update: Fixed which Washington team intentionally loses rather than does so as the result of the right wing owner’s ineptitude.

61 replies
  1. Alan Charbonneau says:

    My first thought when I saw Gaetz accusing Durham of a cover up was this is his reward for all those years of work. Couldn’t happen to a nicer guy.

    Correction, the team that loses to the Globetrotters is the Washington Generals.

  2. ExRacerX says:

    Super job, Marcy, and this time the courtier press have also noticed and are reporting on this angle. So glad this hearing backfired on the Committee and made Durham squirm and sound like his memory isn’t very good.

    Meanwhile, I’m experiencing what can only be called “schadenschadenfreudefreude.”

    • stancat says:

      Disagree about the “courtier press.” I see nothing about Durham testimony in this morning’s on line version of the Washington Post. Yesterday’s 5:38 pm article is listed under “Politics.” It states “the hearing broke little new ground.” Omits any discussion of Schiff’s cross ex or even Schiff’s name. NYT has Charlie Savage piece from yesterday down at No 12 in the News category below coverage of Schiff censure (which is also listed prominently on the Home screen).

      • Ginevra diBenci says:

        Today WaPo is too busy blasting out yet another Hunter Biden “whistleblower” story, this one from an IRS agent who seems to think Delaware USA Weiss got handcuffed when it came to charging HB for…well, as far as I could tell, porn-related stuff.

        You know, porn stuff with an IRS angle. Don’t ask me.

        • Rayne says:

          I can’t even begin to imagine the chaos of charging every American who consumed porn. Apparently it’s only a chargeable offense when [porn + tax evasion-like stuff + Democratic family member in/near White House].

          Must be Democratic or Trump spawn would likely be just as guilty.

          • bmaz says:

            Was a significant story on CNN this morning, but they said there were two nutter IRS agents. Is porn illegal now? Lol. As to the tax and gun plea, no normal person would have ever been charged with that if they paid the past due and penalties. Yes, Hunter got special treatment. In a manner “more” harsh than anybody else would have. This garbage from the House nutters is really tiresome.

            • Rayne says:

              Apparently the GOP didn’t get the manufactured outrage they were promised by Giuliani and Trump so they have to make do with what’s at hand.

              Whatever the GOP’s problem, none of this fauxrage is going to make sure economically disadvantaged families can feed their kids, or college students and graduates won’t end up in what is little more than indentured servitude to pay down college loans, or ensure every American has the health care they need without Big Government getting into their crotch in the process.

              Right now I’d be cpntent if the House GOP melted down into a continuous slap fest of hair pulling and name calling over who’s the little bitch because it would keep them from hurting the country any more than they have.

  3. WilliamOckham says:

    I only saw the part of the hearing after the break. I had exactly the same reaction to Gaetz, that he was there to be the leopard eating Durham’s face (metaphorically of course).

    • Rayne says:

      Thanks once again to Adrian Bott a.k.a. Cavalorn on Twitter, who launched a thousand face-eating memes.

      From back when Twitter was headed in the right direction. *sigh*

  4. FiestyBlueBird says:

    OT, but yesterday, in a first (to my knowledge) Grassley says Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Indictments are Serious.

    Rambling interview, but most of it around the GOP off ramp. Chuck is not committed to taking it, but he acknowledges seeing it, at least, by actually saying this shit’s serious. (He did finally read the indictment.) Maybe a thin crack in the wall.

    Kudos to Bob Leonard for the interview.

  5. Artemis Prime says:

    In the cartoon version of this hearing that exists only in my mind, Gaetz ends by calling for a special counsel to investigate the Durham coverup and then the frame moves to Durham as we watch his head explode. There is something satisfying about a full-circle ending.

    • Rayne says:

      Oh, it was right there…you came so close to calling it a full-circle jerk.

      Or a full circle of jerks. LOL

      • Artemis Prime says:

        I don’t think I would be able to even form a sentence about being satisfied by a full circle jerk in the context of these partisan hunks (hacks). Lol! I wish I had thought of it though! So very clever!

      • xxbronxx says:

        Re: A “full circle of jerks” – it’s why they – words for groups – are called, stunningly and punningly, “venereal” terms.

          • xxbronxx says:

            Harpie: Pride of lions, pod of whales, murder of crows and other collective nouns for groups of animals goes back to medieval England via France and “terms of venery”. There’s a wonderful book by James Lipton of Inside the Actor’s Studio fame – An Exaltation of Larks – that lists scores of them. It’s just a quick hop to go outside the world of hunting and into the larger world outside.

    • CovariantTensor says:

      Or else, an infinite chain of “investigate the investigation of the investigation”, etc. all compressed into a finite time. Sort of like the meta-wish for another wish sequence in “Goedel, Escher, Bach”, if anyone has read that.

  6. Nate_21JUN2023_2045h says:

    Why didn’t anyone ask about the criminal investigation they allegedly brought back from Italy?

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    • Knowatall says:

      Schiff did, in his use of Lofgren’s (IIRC) time yielded. Durham claimed it was out of scope.

  7. flounder says:

    Excellent summary. I loved crazy Hageman’s rant running out the clock. Durham had the most blatant Mr. Magoo act when he was hit with a question that he didn’t want to answer where he’d play first like he didn’t hear, then he’d hem and haw, then he wouldn’t hear again. Also his selective use of “that wasn’t covered by the report” was ridiculous. Fwiw I’m a dick so I would have point-of-ordered Hageman’s ending “will society die” question as not pertaining to the report along with 70 other times during the Republican’s testimony.

    • Knowatall says:

      Hageman is my ‘representative’, and she has fulfilled the promise of being a C-level MAGAt, who accomplishes nothing, but occasionally rants incoherently. And, yet, there are so many who claim “she’s very smart”. Democracy has already died in WY; we’re just fighting a rear-guard action.

      • flounder says:

        I’m originally from there. Wyoming has truly been taken over by the Leopard’s Eating Faces Party. It pains me to think that the insane and corrupt House Reps of the past like Babs Cubin or Dick Cheney would be a massive upgrade on the clownish people getting elected there now.

  8. Fedupin10 says:

    Durham could have been a darling of the right if he had come up with ANYTHING from his investigation. He failed miserably.
    The Leopards have no choice but to eat his face and accuse him of being part of the deep state conspiracy to save face with the base. Victims, all of them.

  9. Kenneth Ashford says:

    Why does nobody mention that Sebastian Gorka accompanied Barr and Durham to Italy?
    https:// fb. watch/ljzK3ofTuI/?mibextid=Nif5oz

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    • xxbronxx says:

      Gorka was there just long enough to lay a wreath at the Mussolini Family Crypt. He wore a crisp, new Black Shirt for the occasion.

  10. Desidero says:

    If Durham’s criminalizing oppo research is valid, isn’t Trump’s 2020 oppo research 100x as illegal? How many times did MAGAts lie to the FBI, slow down or derail FBI investigations thru knowingly untrue information??
    [aside to admins – is it possible to turn off moderation yet?]

    • Ginevra diBenci says:

      This is the central irony, Desidero. Durham’s “Clinton Plan,” an Orwellian term he invokes with leaden repetition–his sole rhetorical ploy–to indicate devious and potentially illegal scheming, is actually in real life Clinton’s campaign objectives. Nothing more or less nefarious than that, just her and her advisors’ outline for how to win the presidency.

      Unlike Trump’s, it did not involve welcoming Russian help–or soliciting it. Durham and his ilk can’t get over that. So they struggle to obscure it.

  11. notjonathon says:

    With all that delicious egg smeared on Durham’s face, of course the leopards won’t be able to resist eating it.

  12. Bay State Librul says:

    Durham denies mound meetings with Barr.
    Durham side steps question on Nora’s bitch about interim report.

    Conclusion: Knockdown pitches thrown by Dems. Dems execute a double steal with Durham at the mike.
    A dull actor forgetting his lines. Yeah, that was Durham.
    Send the scouting report to Durbin.

  13. Jlroths13 says:

    Typo? Did you mean to type similar sentences twice?

    “ Then Durham said that if people believe his false claim, it will sink the nation. In his final answer, Durham effectively said that if people believe his false claim, it will sink democracy in the United States.”

  14. flounder says:

    So based on what is going on with Hunter Biden, if Barr and Durham got a tip from a foreign source about alleged corruption by Trump, shouldn’t Democrats be demanding to see the FD-1023 for the tip? I know damn well that such a thing doesn’t exist, but it seems to me that Democrats could make a little hay further destroying Durham’s credibility by making it clear that he was wildly irresponsible in his intake of information.

  15. Jamie Jobb says:

    Since when does DFPOTUS use email? See this paragraph:
    “In another exchange, Schiff laid out how George Papadopoulos’ prediction of help from Russia came true, in the form of the release of stolen emails via cut-outs. Durham (whose claim to be aware of
    Trump’s emails
    and public news coverage was selective throughout), claimed to have no awareness that the Russian operation released stolen emails via three different cut-outs — dcleaks, Guccifer 2.0, and WikiLeaks. He had no idea, about that, he claimed!”

      • OnKilter says:

        From the post above:

        In short, the Durham hearing gave Schiff (and others, but especially Schiff) several opportunities to lay out just how damning the Mueller investigation results were, particularly as compared to Durham’s own flimsy outcome. Each time, Durham claimed ignorance of key details of the Mueller Report.

        So again, why hasn’t the DOJ released an unredacted version of the Mueller Report, as referred to in the post?

        • CovariantTensor says:

          Durham professed ignorance of what was in the redacted Mueller report, hence the off-topicness. Though I don’t see how it rises to the level of “JAQing off”.

          • Rayne says:

            Let us handle moderation, got it? OnKilter has a history here and that’s all I’m going to say. Now back onto the topic or move along.

  16. CovariantTensor says:

    Someone help me out here. I don’t doubt the branding of the Russia investigation as a hoax is complete and utter bullshit, and kudos to Schiff for pointing out some of the findings indicating it wasn’t. But when Trump publicly asked Russia to find Hillary’s 30,000 emails wasn’t he referring to the emails on her server she deemed personal and deleted, which she probably shouldn’t have done? And weren’t the emails hacked from the DNC that appeared right after that something completely different (Podestra’s email password was “password”, for crissake!) therefore making Schiff’s and other’s conflation of these events at least a little dishonest?

    Also, unless someone is in the know about how email servers work and how data stored on a hard drive works, you can’t just delete 30,000 emails from a server and assume they are all gone forever. Doesn’t the FBI have some pretty sophisticated computer forensics available? These are gaps in the MSM’s coverage of these events that have bothered me for years.

    Of course, the idea that HRC should be locked up for doing state department business on a private server (which there was no evidence, to my knowledge was ever actually compromised) whereas classified documents strewn about Mar-a Lago (where at least one Chinese spy was caught) are no big deal because there’s no evidence (that anyone knows or is saying so far) the classified information was actually leaked is manifestly ludicrous.

  17. Greenhouse says:

    The absurdity of this all has my head spinning. And yet, the leopard continues to grow fatter and stronger with so many faces left to feast on. Matt Gaetz is the last person I ever imagined would say to Durham “I’m gonna bite your face off, you Deep state mofo”! And yet the farce continues. When does it end?

  18. Zinsky123 says:

    Beautifully written. The ending of this debacle of an investigation was fittingly pathetic. I am still watching excerpts of the whole Durham testimony on C-SPAN and I am struck by how unimpressive Durham was. I kept reading about what a sober, diligent and thorough investigator he was and yet, the Democrats made him look like a fool. I felt a similar way when Bob Mueller testified in front of Congress after his investigation concluded – deeply underwhelming! Durham acted like he didn’t know the GRU was involved in the hack-and-dump plot against Hillary and Podesta! 13 GRU agents were indicted by Mueller! To not know that is legal malpractice. Same with Trump’s open calls to Wikileaks to release Hillary’s e-mails – how could he NOT know this. I hope history treats this man like the biased lackey buffoon that he is!

    • Hoping4better_times says:

      Reply to Zinsky123. I watched Durham’s testimony, too, as well as Mueller’s testimony when he, too, testified to the House Judiciary committee. Durham tried to bob-n-weave his answers to avoid direct answers. Durham especially denied knowledge of relevant events or of Mueller’s findings. Both are older men. Both had trouble hearing questions at times.
      Mueller used his written report and had his deputy sitting next to him.
      My conclusion is that both men suffer from the inevitable decline in mental sharpness that happens with age. I know this from personal experience…..

      • emptywheel says:

        When I get more time, I’m going to see if I can disprove his claim not to know some of that stuff.

  19. xyxyxyxy says:

    Is there any chance that the Italian crimes are being looked into or will in the future?

  20. Jim_08FEB2023_1112h says:

    Now I understand the move to censure.

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