The "Russia, Russia, Russia" probe that bogged down Donald Trump's presidency was baseless, John Durham concluded in a lengthy report released Monday.
Durham, who was tapped by the Trump administration to investigate the Trump-Russia collusion probe, concluded the FBI "failed to uphold their important mission of strict fidelity to the law" when the agency launched the investigation in the thick of the 2016 election campaign.
But Durham recommended no additional criminal charges over what Trump has called "the crime of the century."
The agency's original decision to open its "Crossfire Hurricane" investigation in July 2016 was based on "raw, unanalyzed, and uncorroborated intelligence," Durham said.
After years of hype, many are sure to be underwhelmed by the restrained tone of Durham's report, which never directly accuses the FBI of a conspiracy.
Durham instead charges the agency with a lack of "analytical rigor" toward the evidence at the heart of the probe, much of which was derived from Clinton campaign opposition research, like the notorious Christopher Steele dossier.
"This information in part triggered and sustained Crossfire Hurricane and contributed to the subsequent need for Special Counsel Mueller's
investigation. In particular, there was significant reliance on investigative leads provided or funded (directly or indirectly) by Trump's political opponents."
The FBI also showed an "extremely troublesome" tendency to ignore information that challenged the collusion narrative, including "exculpatory" reports that Clinton wanted to "smear" Trump by linking him with Russia. The FBI complacently made itself a tool of a political campaign, Durham intimates.
"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," he said.
The "mistakes" described in Durham's report are so numerous and egregious that it's difficult to imagine they were the result of negligence or naivete.
After the FBI got a hold of the dossier, it took a mysterious 75 days for it to reach the Crossfire Hurricane team, Durham said. Despite never verifying the dossier, the FBI used it continuously to support the collusion theory and spy on Trump campaign aide Carter Page.
"The information - involving an ongoing presidential campaign - was precisely the kind of unevaluated information that required rigorous analysis in order to assess its relevance and value," Durham said.
Durham also alludes to a double standard, contrasting the FBI's quickness to investigate Trump with its disinterest in intelligence that Clinton wanted to "promote a false or exaggerated narrative to the public and to U.S. government agencies about Trump's possible ties to Russia."
Some of the most voluble collusion truthers, like Adam Schiff (D-CA), Jamie Raskin (D-MD), and Ted Lieu (D-CA), have responded by attacking Durham and doubling down on the Russian collusion myth a full four years after it was originally discredited by Robert Mueller.
Lieu noted that Mueller's probe led to several convictions, as if that proves anything about the integrity of the investigation.
“The facts speak for themselves,” Lieu said. “There were multiple convictions because the FBI opened their investigation. The fact that John Durham wants to reverse all that, he should be ashamed of himself.”
The FBI, meanwhile, claims they have addressed the issues Durham raised and that the agency exemplifies "the rigor, objectivity, and professionalism the American people deserve and rightly expect."