Senators question why Durham didn’t interview top officials at DOJ, FBI about Trump-Russia probe

Special counsel John Durham’s final report did not include interviews with top Justice Department officials who were deeply involved in launching the Trump-Russia collusion investigation and two senators want to know why.

Sens. Ron Johnson and Chuck Grassley wrote to Mr. Durham asking him to explain why his report is missing testimony from former FBI Director James Comey, former acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe and others who played key roles in the flawed “Crossfire Hurricane” investigation of the 2016 Trump campaign.

“It seems odd that individuals would be allowed to avoid fully cooperating with your office, particularly given your authority to compel testimony and records,” the Republican senators wrote to Mr. Durham, who spent four years investigating the FBI’s pursuit of Trump.

The 306-page Durham report found deep flaws and evidence of political bias in the Justice Department’s decision to launch a broad probe into whether the Trump campaign worked with Russians to win the 2016 presidential election. 

Mr. Comey and Mr. McCabe played central roles in launching Crossfire Hurricane but declined to be interviewed by Mr. Durham, as did Kevin Clinesmith, the FBI lawyer who authored a fake email to win renewal of a surveillance warrant for a Trump campaign advisor. 

Mr. Durham also failed to interview Glenn Simpson, who was paid by the Clinton Campaign to dig up dirt on then-candidate Donald Trump. Mr. Simpson, who refused to be interviewed by Mr. Durham, hired former British spy Christopher Steele, who produced the discredited dossier that included unproven wild and tawdry claims about Mr. Trump’s activities in Russia. 

Former FBI agents Peter Strzok and Bill Priestap, who while working at the bureau were deeply involved in launching Crossfire Hurricane, also refused to talk to Mr. Durham. 

Mr. Grassley of Iowa and Mr. Johnson of Wisconsin want to know whether the former officials and Mr. Simpson received subpoenas and if the Justice Department acted “to impede any of your office’s investigative activities.”  They asked Mr. Durham to provide more details about who refused to cooperate and how they responded to his requests.

The Justice Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The missing testimony from Mr. Comey and others raised immediate criticism of the long-awaited report from Mr. Durham. 

Rep. Jim Jordan, an Ohio Republican and chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, said he’ll hold a hearing on the report in the next few weeks and Mr. Durham will testify. Mr. Jordan said he will review depositions taken in Congress several years ago from Mr. Comey, Mr. Strzok and Mr. Priestap “and compare that to the Durham report.”

The Durham report criticized the FBI for launching the probe based on fake evidence, some of it provided by operatives for Hillary Clinton’s campaign.

FBI agents were so eager to pursue President Trump, Mr. Durham concluded, they accepted “seriously flawed information” and abandoned their “own principles regarding objectivity and integrity.”

Mr. Durham concluded that the FBI’s behavior was “seriously deficient” and caused the agency “severe reputational harm.”

Mr. Johnson and Mr. Grassley requested Mr. Durham respond to their request by the end of May.

“Congress requires additional information with respect to this refusal to cooperate and how it ultimately concluded,” the senators wrote to Mr. Durham.

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