Where's Durham?

It's Day 861 of the supposedly "special" investigation into Spygate! Does anyone still believe that "indictments are coming" soon?

Do you remember when Bill Barr told you that John Durham was conducting an investigation and you actually believed it? That seems so long ago that it might as well be an ice age — you know, that bygone era when the credibility of our federal law enforcement agencies still existed. My calendar disagreed with my feelings though. It was only 13 months ago that the much-hyped investigation into Spygate finally became absurd when Attorney General Bill Barr let it be known that his special agent John Durham would not be able to finish his alleged investigation (subsequently downgraded very slyly to a book report) before the 2020 election. No indictments! No prosecutions! No kidding! This news landed like a grenade among Trump supporters who had been promised that heads would roll every night for two years on conservative cable news.

The entire thing had been a ruse: a sham investigation to cover up the most extraordinary conspiracy in American history. President Trump himself was incredulous. He called in to Rush Limbaugh’s radio the very same day the news broke and proceeded to blast Bill Barr and the DOJ to an audience of about 50 million listeners. "It's a disgrace” and “an embarrassment” the President said, almost in disbelief. Then he offered this summary judgment on his own federal law enforcement officials: “we don't have people who can do anything."

The day before, in another interview, President Trump had been even more specific about Durham’s sham investigation. "It's 24 years of putting radical liberals in there [the DOJ] and also Trump haters. They put Bush people in there. Frankly the Bush people, some of these losers who used to work for Bush, are worse than the Obama people." The President of the United States let it be known that the FBI and the DOJ were covering for corrupt people like the Clintons. ”If we lose this election, it all goes away” he said finally. Did he mean the Durham investigation or the concept of equal justice in America? Maybe both.

Why did Bill Barr fail to clean house at the DOJ? Why did he fail to release the documents that Trump had fully declassified? Barr was protecting the institutions under his control rather than providing the accountability he had promised publicly so often. He had passed on prosecuting Comey and McCabe and plenty of other FBI bosses. He had kept Bruce Ohr gainfully employed at the DOJ right up until the end. At least fourteen criminal referrals from Devin Nunes and Chuck Grassley and IG Horowitz were ignored. Had Barr come out of retirement to investigate Spygate or whitewash it? The man who had said all the right things in public about the rule of law had done nothing to enforce it among his own employees.

Why had so many people invested their faith in the investigators investigating themselves in the first place? What had Durham’s team actually been doing for two years? It looked like Durham had picked mostly retired agents and Democrats to staff his investigation — with a budget that was tiny compared to the Mueller team. He was moving at a glacial pace too. This did not seem fatal at the time because a cavalcade of conservative media types kept assuring their audiences that they had "sources at the DOJ" and "that Durham was bringing indictments soon." That never happened. Those folks obviously got played by their sources.

People ask me all the time how I knew the Durham investigation was a sham before anyone else. (I posted on Twitter in the summer of 2020 that Barr and Durham would do nothing on multiple occasions.) I always tell them: because I didn’t have any sources at the Department of Justice. That turned out to be a significant advantage. The most important pictures that you will ever see explaining how the FBI actually works are two leak charts contained in the Inspector General’s report. They map out “the volume of communications identified between FBI employees and members of the media in April, May, and October 2016” as The Federalist put it. The IG admitted that too many people at the FBI spend their days illegally leaking to the media to even locate the individual leakers there.

Second, although FBI policy strictly limits the employees who are authorized to speak to the media, we found that this policy appeared to be widely ignored during the period we reviewed. We identified numerous FBI employees, at all levels of the organization and with no official reason to be in contact with the media, who were nevertheless in frequent contact with reporters. The large number of FBI employees who were in contact with journalists during this time period impacted our ability to identify the sources of leaks.

It looks like the FBI called everyone in conservative media (except me) for two years about phony indictments that never came. Wasn’t that the real point of the Durham investigation? The constant rumors certainly kept Trump supporters quiet all the way into the 2020 election. Had Barr intentionally run out the clock so that Spygate would go away? Was the intelligence community hoping that a Biden victory would clean up the mess they made trying to topple Trump in the first place? It sure looks that way. Between cleaning up the Jeffrey Epstein “suicide” in federal custody and hiding Hunter Biden’s laptop, those boys have been very busy.

If you thought the purpose of the Durham investigation was to prosecute the Spygate plotters, then nothing makes sense. If you realize that the purpose of the Durham investigation was to run out the clock on prosecuting them before the 2020 election then everything makes sense. The trick worked but everybody in America saw the deception. (That’s why they call it: The Great Awakening.) Perhaps it’s time to start demanding reforms in our federal law enforcement agencies rather than pretending they will reform themselves. That would take more courage than Congress has shown lately but it still needs to be done. Someone has to stop this two-tiered system of justice that’s been created over the years. The integrity of the law in the United States is now a public joke — and there’s nothing funny about it.

Bill Barr deserves much of the blame for this collapse but he’s hardly alone. It turned out that trusting Durham was a bad idea — like trusting Sessions, or Rosenstein, or Mueller, or Huber, or Wray, or Comey. It wasn’t just Trump who was deceived either. The habit of Americans automatically trusting public institutions like the FBI and the DOJ has finally come to an ugly end. Peter Strozk probably doesn’t mind the blanket immunity that he enjoys, but the rest of us are not amused. Durham’s fake investigation might have preserved the status quo among our national security elite but it destroyed the trust that many citizens held in the rule of law — and no fancy speech by Bill Barr was ever going to bring it back.