Former special counsel John Durham released his final report on Monday in which he criticized the FBI for investigating ties between Russia and Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign. But the details of the report are likely to disappoint Trump and his supporters, according to one expert.
Speaking to MSNBC's Nicolle Wallace shortly after the over 300-page report was released, Politico reporter Betsy Woodruff Swan walked through her observations.
She began with something she said was like a kind of disclaimer directed to Donald Trump himself. The report explained that there were a number of people who probably had bad judgment but that they didn't break the law.
"He says federal law doesn't make it illegal for campaigns to engage in unethical or uncomfortable campaign tactics, and he says that prosecutors have to make sure that if they're charging people with crimes, the charges are against criminal activity," Woodruff Swan explained. "What's implicit there is Durham signaling while he found lots of information he believes to be interesting and important, so much of his findings simply did not rise to the level of criminality, and that gets to one really important piece of putting this Durham report in context — which is that it is likely to leave President Trump, former President Trump and his supporters disappointed."
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"That's because Trump spent the last four years saying Durham was on the cusp of bringing bombshell criminal charges. Then, literally, in the first pages of this report, we see an explanation from Durham as to why that's not happening, as why even though lots of people on the right were upset about what happened with the Russia probe, Durham concedes I wasn't able to bring charges for a host of reasons because a lot of things that people don't like aren't illegal."
Durham decided that the FBI should have been more skeptical about a lot of the information it received during the final days of the 2016 campaign. He also said that FBI agents made assumptions, followed their respective "guts," and believed what was happening with Trump and Russia, and that there should have been more pushback.
"He homes in on intelligence declassified by the Trump administration where the U.S. intelligence community got intelligence from Russia that was Russian intelligence analysis, alleging that the Clinton campaign had decided to push claims about Trump and Russia as a way of distracting the American public from her e-mail scandal and Durham goes into this in detail. I have to say and Durham says, Durham was not able to verify that was true."
When he asked Clinton about it, she called it crazy. When he spoke to Jake Sullivan, previously on the Clinton campaign and now serves as the United States national security advisor, he also said it was false.
"Durham takes this information that came from Russia to a number of FBI agents who worked on Crossfire Hurricane and Durham says many agents were not aware of this intelligence and that they wish they had known about it when their investigation was underway," said Woodruff Swan. Yet, that information was never proven to be real.
Another story from Durham is that an FBI agent looks at it, "dismayed according to Durham's report and becomes emotional and says he should have been aware of that intelligence even if it wasn't provably true, even if it wasn't verified, that agent wished he had known about it. And that kind of gets to a lot of what Durham is looking at, which is not so much illegality but more these judgment calls, this context, was there enough of an adversarial process within the FBI where people checking their assumptions enough when it came to putting together the case against Trump."
The important theme in the pages, Woodruff-Swan said, is the question as to whether the information available was "enough to get to the point of substantiating the allegations Trump and his allies made about the Russia probe. Very far from it."
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Durham on Trump's conspiracies www.youtube.com