In this post, I showed how John Durham fabricated a key aspect of his Clinton conspiracy theory — the claim that she planned to make false claims about Donald Trump. Durham invented the bit where Clinton had to make false claims about Trump. Made it up out of thin air.
Durham considered charging FBI agents because they didn’t respond to evidence that a Hillary advisor had been hacked by Russia as if it were proof of criminal intent by Hillary.
He did so in spite of the fact that he provided no proof that any of those FBI agents he considered charging had actually received the referral memo sharing that Russian intelligence.
In the section where Durham considers whether to charge some FBI agents for not doing more with the the Russian Hillary-and-Guccifer intelligence, he repeats his ploy of conflating the Hillary-and-Guccifer intelligence with the wider body of evidence to even deign to make a prosecutorial decision, though in this instance, he provides no reminder that the Hillary-and-Guccifer intelligence was just one of the things Brennan briefed to Obama, after five pages of other items.
The FBI thus failed to act on what should have been – when combined with other, incontrovertible facts – a clear warning sign that the FBI might then be the target of an effort to manipulate or influence the law enforcement process for political purposes during the 2016 presidential election. Indeed, CIA Director Brennan and other intelligence officials recognized the significance of the intelligence by expeditiously briefing it to the President, Vice President, the Director of National Intelligence, the Attorney General, the Director of the FBI, and other senior administration officials. 491
He lets the urgent import of an ongoing Russian hack to stand in for the import of this Hillary-and-Guccifer intelligence.
And that’s important, because Durham makes a prosecutorial decision about whether to charge FBI agents for how they responded to the intelligence that Russia claimed to have intercepted communications of Hillary personnel without proof that most of them ever read it.
As he describes, the top analytical people on the campaign learned of the claimed intercept of Hillary associates almost a month after CIA first obtained it.
On that date, an FBI cyber analyst (“Headquarters Analyst-2”) emailed a number of FBI employees, including Supervisory Intelligence Analyst Brian Auten and Section Chief Moffa, the most senior intelligence analysts on the Crossfire Hurricane team, to provide an update on Russian intelligence materials. 409 The email included a summary of the contents of the Clinton Plan intelligence. 410
There were in-person briefings for the top analytical people and the cyber people ten days later.
When interviewed by the Office, Auten recalled that on September 2, 2016 – approximately ten days after Headquarters Analyst-2’s email – the official responsible for overseeing the Fusion Cell briefed Auten, Moffa, and other FBI personnel at FBI Headquarters regarding the Clinton Plan intelligence. 411 Auten did not recall any FBI “operational” personnel (i.e., Crossfire Hurricane Agents) being present at the meeting. 412 The official verbally briefed the individuals regarding information that the CIA planned to send to the FBI in a written investigative referral, including the Clinton Plan intelligence information. 413
Separate and apart from this meeting, FBI records reflect that by no later than that same date (September 2, 2016), then-FBI Assistant Director for Counterintelligence Bill Priestap was also aware of the specifics of the Clinton Plan intelligence as evidenced by his hand-written notes from an early morning meeting with Moffa, DAD Dina Corsi and Acting AD for Cyber Eric Sporre. 415
Durham describes the CIA writing a memo about what the fusion intelligence team had found — but he curiously never describes how or when it was sent.
Five days later, on September 7, 2016, the CIA completed its Referral Memo in response to an FBI request for relevant information reviewed by the Fusion Cell. 417
That’s important because Durham describes witness after witness describing that they had never seen it.
None of the FBI personnel who agreed to be interviewed could specifically recall receiving this Referral Memo.
The Office showed portions of the Clinton Plan intelligence to a number of individuals who were actively involved in the Crossfire Hurricane investigation. Most advised they had never seen the intelligence before. For example, the original Supervisory Special Agent on the Crossfire Hurricane investigation, Supervisory Special Agent-1, reviewed the intelligence during one of his interviews with the Office. 428 After reading it, Supervisory Special Agent-I became visibly upset and emotional, left the interview room with his counsel, and subsequently returned to state emphatically that he had never been apprised of the Clinton Plan intelligence and had never seen the aforementioned Referral Memo. 42
Former FBI General Counsel Baker also reviewed the Clinton Plan intelligence during one of his interviews with the Office. 431 Baker stated that he had neither seen nor heard of the Clinton Plan intelligence or the resulting Referral Memo prior to his interview with the Office.
In lieu of proof that it ever got sent, Durham reveals that Brian Auten might have hand-carried the memo to the team, but had no memory of doing so.
Auten stated that it was possible he hand-delivered this Referral Memo to the FBI, as he had done with numerous other referral memos,419 and noted that he typically shared referral memos with the rest of the Crossfire Hurricane investigative team, although he did not recall if he did so in this instance. 420
[E]ven in spite of proof that Durham was coaching witnesses in these interviews, he still presented no affirmative evidence that the FBI investigators ever received the Fusion Cell memo. In the same way that all of Hillary’s people disclaimed any plan, the FBI investigators disclaimed having seen this memo.
To sum up: Durham considered charging FBI agents for not responding to evidence that Russians had hacked a Hillary advisor as if it was proof of Hillary’s devious attempt to frame Trump, even though he had no evidence those FBI agents ever saw that evidence.
In today’s hearing, Durham responded to a question from Jim Jordan about the memo — asking whether the memo was given to Jim Comey and Peter Strzok — by dodging on precisely that issue. Rather than saying, yes, Comey and Strzok got this referral, he said only that the memo had been addressed to Strzok.
Jordan: Was memo given to Comey and Strzok.
Durham: That’s who it was addressed to, yes.
That is, he affirmatively stopped short of claiming that Strzok received it.
That led to this exchange involving Strzok himself.
The significance of Strzok’s comment is twofold. First, he says he spoke to Durham about this topic.
I told Durham’s team I had no recollection of ever seeing the [referral]. Funny how he didn’t include that in his report.
That directly conflicts with a footnote in a section of Durham’s Report purporting to prove Peter Strzok’s political bias, in which Durham claimed that Strzok refused to talk about anything other than the Alfa Bank allegations.
139 Strzok was a Section Chief and later the Deputy Assistant Director in the FBI’s Counterintelligence Division. (For the positions held by those involved in the Crossfire Hurricane investigation, see the chart in the Redacted OIG Review at 81-82.) Strzok agreed to provide information to the Office concerning matters related to the FBI’s Alfa Bank investigation, but otherwise declined to be interviewed by the Office on matters related to his role in the Crossfire Hurricane investigation.
Durham has spent a good deal of time today making excuses for why he didn’t speak to Republicans’ biggest bogeymen, including Strzok. Yet it appears that Durham affirmatively misrepresented the extent to which Strzok spoke to him.
Then there’s the documentary detail Strzok raised: When he spoke to Durham, Durham didn’t have an FBI file copy of this memo. He was using a CIA or ODNI version of the document, not one from the FBI.
Either Durham didn’t look — or he never found — this file to be in FBI files.
Both Republicans and Democrats should be furious about this exchange — Republicans, because it suggests Durham is lying to them about whom he really did speak with, and Democrats, because it is yet more proof Durham invented a conspiracy theory out of a Russian intelligence report.
John Durham seems to be hiding the degree to which he left out interviews that debunked his own conspiracy theories. Including one with Peter Strzok.