Special Counsel John Durham, in his much-anticipated appearance Wednesday before the House Judiciary Committee, came off as a humble and stoic presence on the stand.
As uncomfortable as he seemed with the attention of the cameras --- his voice even trembling a bit --- he managed to get in a zinger while being questioned by the now-censured and thoroughly disgraced Adam Schiff of California. It was deliciously subtle.
To set this up, recall that when Schiff was actively promoting the Russia Hoax as a member of the Intel Committee, a couple of Russian radio DJs pranked him, calling his office posing as Russian informants who claimed to know about an encounter President Trump had had with a Russian call girl who had pictures of “naked Trump.” It’s still hilarious. Schiff rushed to the phone so fast, you would’ve thought it was a CNN camara.
Yesterday, when Schiff was questioning him, Durham made deft reference to that prank while effectively shutting Schiff down about that Trump Tower meeting attended by Don Trump, Jr. Nice touch.
But probably the highlight of Durham’s testimony was when he spoke of FBI agents who had come to him to apologize for the conduct of the Bureau concerning Crossfire Hurricane. He also recounted the reaction of the first supervisor of Crossfire Hurricane when handed a memo that he said he’d never seen before. The agent got visibly emotional, even having to leave the room and stay in the hallway for “some time.” When he returned, he explained that then-FBI Director James Comey had kept the information from him.
The memo was about the Clinton campaign’s involvement with the Crossfire Hurricane investigation.
The Democrats might have reached a new low for contentiousness during this hearing, as it was really all they had. There are links that could be included here, but, seriously, who needs all that viciousness? Do you really want to watch Jerry Nadler telling preposterous lies and proving he did zero research?
Still, towards the end of the hearing, things got a little vicious on the Republican side when Kentucky Rep. Thomas Massie ceded some of his time to Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz. Between the two of them, they posed some tough questions for the special counsel. Massie began by asking about the person who arguably started the Trump/Russia investigation, Joseph Mifsud, the intel agent who supposedly gave George Papadopoulos the Russian information that led to the opening of Crossfire Hurricane. He asked Durham if his investigation had interviewed Mifsud. Durham got around to saying that no, they hadn’t, and that it’s “hard to say who Mifsud is.”
That’s when Massie turned the floor over to Gaetz, who said, “Hard to say who Mifsud is?? He’s the guy who started the whole thing. We’ve known it for years.”
Then Gaetz played a video of Robert Mueller being questioned by committee chairman Jim Jordan in July 2019. Mueller refused to say even if he’d interviewed Mifsud or whether Mifsud was Russian or Western intel. Jordan excoriated Mueller in the video for not hunting Mifsud down after they found no evidence of Russian “collusion,” saying, “Maybe a better course of action is to figure out how the false accusation started, maybe it’s to go back and actually figure out why Joseph Mifsud was lying to the FBI. And here’s the good news...That’s exactly what [then-AG] Bill Barr is doing --- and thank goodness for that. That’s exactly what the attorney general and John Durham are doing.”
Fast-forward to yesterday’s hearing, and Gaetz is pressing Durham about why he DIDN’T do that. Durham had to admit that he wasn’t able to interview Mifsud because he couldn’t find him. He still couldn’t say who Mifsud is or who “put him in play.”
Gaetz hit him really hard, even questioning the sincerity of his work, saying, “Some have referred to your work as just a repackaging and regurgitation of what the inspector general already told us. So, if you weren’t going to do what Mr. Jordan said you were gonna do in that video, and give us the basis for all of it, what’s this all been about?”
Durham replied that he’d been away from his family for four years. “The fact that you can’t find somebody overseas shouldn’t come as a big surprise.”
When Gaetz went on to ask him if he’d been able to find Azra Turk, Massie reclaimed his time. Later, when his chance came around again, Gaetz went after him on something else: “...Bill Priestap, the guy who might’ve set this whole op in motion, he just didn’t want to talk to you about certain things, and you were real accommodating to that.”
Gaetz also pressed him further on not being able to find Mifsud to subpoena him when he’d found Mifsud’s lawyer, who had two of his cell phones. “You found the lawyer, you found the phones, but the actual dude who got ordered by Western intelligence to go start this thing you couldn’t find? It’s sort of laughable...It seems like you weren’t really trying to expose the true core of the corruption --- that you were trying to go at it another way.”
Gaetz went on to ask him if he’d investigated the “hard reset” the FBI team did to wipe their Apple phones. “Who gave the order on the Mueller team to wipe the phones?”
Durham said they didn’t look at that because they weren’t asked to.
“That’s not true, Mr. Durham,” Gaetz said, “because I am holding the document that authorizes your activity, and it specifically says, ‘the investigation of Special Counsel, Robert Mueller.’” When Gaetz asked again about Azra Turk, Durham said, “I think that’s beyond the scope of what’s in the report.”
Gaetz disputed that, too, even suggesting that Durham was “part of the cover-up” by not getting into certain areas, and that this might not have been so much an investigation of the FBI as an inoculation.
Durham told him that what he’d said was offensive, and defended the people who worked on the investigation. But Gaetz pressed even further, about the loss of his two cases, the fact that Kevin Clinesmith got a slap on the wrist and is back to practicing law, and the failure to charge Andrew McCabe. He compared the Durham investigation to the Washington Generals basketball team, “the team that basically gets paid to show up and lose, right?”
“...It’s not what’s in your report that’s telling,” Gaetz said, “it’s the omission. It’s the lack of work you did. And for the people, like the chairman, who put trust in you, I think you let them down, I think you let the country down, and you are one of the barriers to the true accountability that we need.”
Susie Moore at REDSTATE was covering the hearing gavel-to-gavel, and she said it appeared to her as if the Republicans had decided during a brief recess to “turn” on Durham. She couldn’t quite read the room as to why. The video is here...
John Durham and his team did do a stellar job of showing the utter lack of evidence behind the Russia Hoax. There is no doubt now that Crossfire Hurricane was built on air by people who wanted to stop Trump. And Durham deserves credit for tying it back to Hillary’s campaign…
But it is true that there were places he could have gone that he didn’t. Some of these involved the more obscure figures within the intelligence community who enabled the hoax, like Mifsud. Either he deliberately avoided them, or he simply let them go. As many years as this investigation dragged on, it seems he could have included them.
As we’ve said, since he was prosecuting Michael Sussmann, the attorney for the DNC who hired CrowdStrike to examine the DNC and DCCC servers that were supposedly “hacked” by “Russia” to damage Hillary, leading to the likely-fake story of a Russian hack that started the whole “Russia” hysteria, Durham missed the opportunity to question him about it and move into that whole area of investigation. This omission is puzzling and disappointing. The transfer of DNC material to WikiLeaks remains a mystery.
The DNC “Russian hack” is probably just as fake as the DNC Trump/Russia “collusion.” But, ironically, Massie and Gaetz failed to ask Durham about his failure to ask Sussmann.
RELATED: Alan Dershowitz said we’re losing our civil liberties because some people at the FBI seriously believe Trump is the equivalent of Adolf Hitler. “Anything, anything can be done to get him…” Dershowitz didn’t say it, but they’ll do the same to his supporters.