GOP Reps Confront Durham

For several House Republicans, the long-awaited report and testimony of Special Counsel John Durham ended in disappointment. They held high hopes that the probe into the origins of the Trump-Russia investigation would lead to tangible consequences for those responsible. Unfortunately, this has not been the case, and patience among conservative Americans is wearing thin.

During a House Judiciary Committee hearing this week, GOP members, including Reps. Chip Roy (R-TX) and Dan Bishop (R-NC) voiced their frustrations. Their central argument was clear: it is high time to hold accountable those senior Justice Department officials who participated in Operation Crossfire Hurricane, a markedly biased investigation of the Trump campaign in 2016.

Despite their probing, three indictments and a comprehensive final report, Durham’s team only managed to convict one federal law enforcement official, former FBI lawyer Kevin Clinesmith based on a plea agreement. Clinesmith avoided any substantial consequences and has returned to his position as a powerful Washington attorney.

Two other key figures, Clinton campaign attorney Michael Sussmann and Steele Dossier source Igor Danchenko, walked away after being acquitted by juries of charges that they lied to the FBI.

“Why haven’t Jim Comey, Andrew McCabe, or Peter Strzok been held accountable for these glaring violations?” asked a frustrated Roy, addressing the numerous anomalies and breaches of protocol highlighted by the probe. Notably, the report indicated that senior FBI officials, including Comey and McCabe, were aware of the weaknesses in the case against the Trump campaign but pursued it regardless.

Durham, however, declined to answer questions about the grand jury or offer a clear reason why he did not charge the FBI officials. This lack of direct response led Bishop to press Durham on his failure to interview key figures named in the report. To Bishop and many other Republicans, Durham’s explanation of the lack of interviews being “disappointing” falls short of a satisfactory response.

Additional skepticism was voiced by Reps. Tom Massie (R-KY) and Matt Gaetz (R-FL). They focused their critique on Durham’s inability to extract answers from or about Joseph Mifsud, the Maltese professor who supposedly provided George Papadopoulos with damaging information about Hillary Clinton, which triggered the entire Trump-Russia collusion narrative.

Without satisfying answers, Gaetz contended that Durham’s report appeared more of an “inoculation” than an indictment of the FBI’s conduct. Durham, on the defensive, maintained that the investigation was a sincere effort.

The list of unanswered questions from the GOP’s standpoint is lengthy. Among them, why Durham didn’t investigate the numerous members of Robert Mueller’s team who had wiped their phones clean of data and why Durham didn’t push harder to get critical figures such as McCabe and Comey to cooperate more fully with his investigation.

Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ) perhaps summed up the Republican sentiment best when he said, “I think you understand why so many of us are underwhelmed with some of your recommendations for the FBI.”

All said and done, Republicans’ dissatisfaction with the lack of serious action against those involved in the Crossfire Hurricane operation is palpable. In their eyes, justice remains to be served. The unanswered question stands: Will Durham’s final report make a difference, or will it merely be another unaddressed event in the long list of controversies surrounding the 2016 and 2020 elections and their aftermath?

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