Peter Strzok described John Durham as “essentially writing a four-year editorial for what he and Bill Barr thought Donald Trump wanted to hear.” This review of the Durham report sounds something like what Iago might say if asked to critique Othello.
Peter Strzok plays the villain in John Durham’s 316-page text. Unfortunately for the disgraced former FBI agent, Durham presents the American public a work of nonfiction. Strzok’s villainy hits the reader as stemming from often knowing best but usually doing the worst. (READ MORE: John Durham Gave Americans Something as Important as Justice)
The by-now familiar texts of Strzok calling the real subject of his investigation a “disaster,” a “douche,” and an “idiot” — and boasting to his mistress, who wondered if Trump could win the presidency, “No. No, he’s not. We’ll stop it” — fall under the heading, to borrow from the jargon of Strzok’s profession, of “clue.” It offers a plausible explanation for why he behaved like a partisan rather than a policeman.
Strzok’s private words repeatedly reveal that he knew no basis existed for the investigation.
Durham notes that “upon receipt of unevaluated intelligence information from Australia, the FBI swiftly opened the Crossfire Hurricane investigation. In particular, at the direction of Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, Deputy Assistant Director for Counterintelligence Peter Strzok opened Crossfire Hurricane immediately. Strzok, at a minimum, had pronounced hostile feelings toward Trump. The matter was opened as a full investigation without ever having spoken to the persons who provided the information.”
Strzok’s private words repeatedly reveal that he knew no basis existed for the investigation. He said of the investigation that “there’s nothing to this, but we have to run it to ground” and, later, when considering whether to join Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team, he identified the rationale for his hesitancy as “my gut sense and concern there’s no big there there.” In September of 2016, he said that Christopher’s Steele’s so-called dossier “should be viewed as intended to influence as well as to inform” and expressed his hunch the next month that the Clinton campaign paid for the Steele dossier’s information. In early 2017, when the New York Times falsely reported contacts between Trump personnel during the campaign and Russian intelligence, Strzok wrote internal critiques that portrayed the Times as misleading and stated that the FBI possessed no such information as was reported in the newspaper.
“On 07 September 2016,” Durham points out, “U.S. intelligence officials forwarded an investigative referral to FBI Director James Comey and Deputy Assistant Director of Counterintelligence Peter Strzok regarding ‘U.S. Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s approval of a plan concerning U.S. Presidential candidate Donald Trump and Russian hackers hampering U.S. elections as a means of distracting the public from her use of a private mail server.’”
He knew, and yet he pursued Trump, and brought the country to such a divisive point that many partisans regarded the president as an instrument of Moscow. The FBI did this by cherry-picking information, omitting facts relevant and undermining to their case, to present to the FISA Court.
Durham informs that by Oct. 17, 2016, Strzok and others “were made aware of the fact that [Carter] Page explicitly denied knowing [Igor] Divyekin, and should have been made aware that Page denied meeting with either individual. Nevertheless, Page’s exculpatory statements were not included in the initial FISA application signed just four days later.”
Strzok’s conduct frustrated colleagues. Durham writes:
Regarding Strzok’s having direct access to [Andrew] McCabe, when asked if he was aware of people going around him to the 7th Floor, (meaning jumping the chain of command and going to the FBI Executive Offices on the 7th floor), [E.W.] Priestap replied, ‘oh, yeah.’ While Priestap stated he could not remember the specifics, Lisa Page was a concern, without question, in this respect. In addition, there were multiple times when Strzok mentioned something to Priestap and shared it with Page who, in turn, shared the information with Deputy Director McCabe. There were also instances when Strzok shared information directly with McCabe before Priestap could provide the information to McCabe himself. Priestap said these actions drove him ‘insane.’ He also told the Office that Strzok was the worst offender in this regard and that these events occurred mostly when he (Priestap) wanted to go in one direction and they (Page and Strzok) disagreed and thus went around him.
Controlling information, whether by bypassing superiors or omitting exculpatory information, looks like a pattern with Strzok when reading Durham’s report. It paints the picture of an unaccountable, I-know-best figure bending the truth to serve a desired narrative.
“Cyber Agent-2 told the Office that he and Cyber Agent-1 considered filing a whistleblower claim about [James] Baker’s failure to provide the information but ultimately decided that they would not because the data provided was not formal evidence in a criminal proceeding,” the report states. “The FBI Headquarters Program Manager for the Alfa Bank case team (‘Headquarters Supervisory Special Agent-3’), noted that FBI leadership, including Strzok, instructed him not to identify the source to the team.”
The source, of course, worked for Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.
When Durham’s people “showed portions of the Clinton Plan” to an agent who worked on Crossfire Hurricane, the operation Strzok led, the agent “became visibly upset and emotional, left the interview room with his counsel, and subsequently returned to state emphatically that he had never been apprised of the Clinton Plan intelligence and had never seen the aforementioned Referral Memo.” The agent “expressed a sense of betrayal that no one had informed him of the intelligence.”
The American people feel a lot like that agent, and a lot like Othello — betrayed.
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