Durham Sequel Goes Back to the Prequel

“I made it clear that neither President Obama nor Vice President Biden were in Durham’s crosshairs,” explains William Barr, the attorney general who tapped John Durham to investigate the Russian collusion hoax against candidate and President Donald Trump.

In One Damn Thing After Another: Memoirs of an Attorney General, Barr also praises Robert Mueller and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who appointed Mueller to investigate Trump. “Few can appreciate the complexities Rod faced during that tumultuous time,” writes Barr, “and even fewer will know the important contributions he made to the administration and the country.” 

The allegedly heroic Rosenstein gets only a single mention in Durham’s recent report, and Rosenstein’s “important contributions” failed to emerge in Durham’s June 21 testimony. On the other hand, John Durham did not spare the FBI. 

The bureau, he testified, failed to “sufficiently scrutinize” collusion claims, did not “apply the same standards” to the Clinton and Trump campaigns, and was too willing to use “politically funded and uncorroborated opposition research, such as the Steele dossier.” This continued even after intelligence briefings “suggesting that there was a Clinton campaign plan underway to stir up a scandal tying Trump to Russia.”

As it happens, Hillary Clinton needed a plan even before Trump locked down the Republican nomination.

Sanders bests Clinton in new early state polls,” headlined a January 12, 2016 Politico report. Two new polls showed the Vermont senator “catching fire in not only his regional stomping ground of New Hampshire but also in Iowa.”

On March 16, 2016, WikiLeaks launched “a searchable archive for over 30 thousand emails and email attachments sent to and from Hillary Clinton’s private email server while she was Secretary of State.” The 50,547 pages of documents spanned a period from June 30 2010 to August 12, and 7,570 of the documents were “sent by Hillary Clinton.” 

People wondered who might have leaked the documents. One possibility was a Democrat insider partial to Bernie Sanders, who was continuing to gain traction. 

Early-state polls hint at Bernie Sanders surge,” headlined Politico on June 15, 2016. In New Hampshire, Sanders was grabbing 32 percent of the vote and gaining on Clinton, backed by 44 percent of Granite State Democrats. 

On July 10, 2016, Seth Rich, a 27-year-old digital campaigner with the Democratic National Committee, was gunned down in Washington, D.C.. Police called it a street robbery gone wrong, but the shooters did not take Rich’s wallet, watch, or phone. The FBI showed no interest in the basic questions of motive, means, and opportunity but quickly latched on to Rich’s laptop.

Weeks after the murder, as the BBC reported, “Wikileaks published 20,000 emails obtained from Democratic National Committee computers via an anonymous source.” Some observers thought the source might be Seth Rich. Many of the emails dealt with the escapades of Hillary Clinton and showed up on social media. The former First Lady didn’t like it.

Clinton says Russia behind DNC hacking, draws line to Trump,” headlined a July 31, 2016 Reuters report. “We know that Russian intelligence services hacked into the DNC and we know that they arranged for a lot of those emails to be released,” Clinton told reporters. “and we know that Donald Trump has shown a very troubling willingness to back up Putin, to support Putin.” The former Secretary of State wasn’t done.

“I think laying out the facts raises serious issues about Russian interference in our elections, in our democracy.” The collusion hoax was on, and as John Durham revealed, the FBI was all-in.  

The FBI launched operation Mid-Year Exam to clear Hillary Clinton, with FBI boss James Comey proclaiming that “no reasonable prosecutor” would pursue a case against her. Congress subpoenaed the emails but the former First Lady bleached her server and smashed up devices. 

The FBI launched operation Crossfire Hurricane against candidate and President Trump, deploying the secret FISA court to spy on Trump aides, falsifying documents, and and entrapping Gen. Michael Flynn, Trump’s pick for national security advisor. 

The Russia hoax was the flywheel of the impeachment effort, and the hoax continued even after Robert Mueller showed there was no collusion. As Durham now confirms, it was a Clinton campaign plan, backed by the FBI. Comey, Strzok, McCabe et al faced no criminal charges, and FBI lawyer Kevin Clinesmith, who forged documents, even had his law license restored

Lost in the shuffle was slain DNC staffer Seth Rich, a possible source of the Clinton email leaks. The FBI had no suspects in his murder, but in 2020 the bureau admitted possession of Rich’s laptop computer. No word about the contents. 

Last year, the FBI defied a court order to hand over information from the laptop, and sought to reverse the 53-page ruling of federal judge Amos Mazzant, an Obama appointee. If the court declined, the FBI wanted to delay release of the data for 66 years, a proxy for “never.” 

Last December, it emerged that the FBI also possessed Seth Rich’s work computer. FBI records boss Michael Seidel claimed the computer is only a physical object, not an “actual record,” and therefore not subject to a Freedom of Information Act request. By all indications, that’s where things stand now.

John Durham didn’t deal with the Rich case but his investigation revealed what has long been obvious to all but the willfully blind. The FBI holds itself above the law and to reverse that abuse of power is going to be difficult.

Congress might start with a full-scale investigation of the Seth Rich murder, with no players off the table—not even former presidents, vice presidents, first ladies and FBI bosses—and investigators fully empowered to get the information they need. A good launch date would be July 10, the seventh anniversary of Seth Rich’s murder.

Remember, there is no statute of limitations on murder. The struggle of the people against FBI injustice is the struggle of memory against forgetting.

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About Lloyd Billingsley

Lloyd Billingsley is the author of Hollywood Party and other books including Bill of Writes and Barack ‘em Up: A Literary Investigation. His journalism has appeared in the Wall Street Journal, the Spectator (London) and many other publications. Billingsley serves as a policy fellow with the Independent Institute.

Photo: Samuel Corum/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images