The FBI is guilty of “a minimum” of 13 instances of “confirmation bias” in its Crossfire Hurricane investigation of former President Donald Trump, a newly-released report from Special Counsel John Durham concludes.
Durham’s three hundred-page report repeatedly attributes FBI misdeeds during its investigation of Trump – such as ignoring and failing to either accept or pursue exculpatory evidence – to the “confirmation bias” of the investigators trying to prove then-President Trump colluded with Russia.
The FBI investigators, Durham claims, fell victim to a “human tendency” people have to “accept information and evidence that is consistent with what they believe to be true, while ignoring or rejecting information that challenges those beliefs” (confirmation bias).
The investigators’ confirmation bias was exhibited by their “open disdain for Trump” and the way they ignored and dismissed exculpatory facts and circumstances that contradicted their belief that he was guilty, Durham explains:
“Throughout the duration of Crossfire Hurricane, facts and circumstances that were inconsistent with the premise that Trump and/or persons associated with the Trump campaign were involved in a collusive or conspiratorial relationship with the Russian government were ignored or simply assessed away.”
“[E]ven before the opening of Crossfire Hurricane, some of those most directly involved in the subsequent investigation had (i) expressed their open disdain for Trump, (ii) asked about when they would open an investigation on Trump, and (iii) asserted that they would prevent Trump from becoming President.”
What’s more, the Hurricane Crossfire investigators misled, and withheld crucial information from, the Department attorneys who were working on the Carter Page FISA applications, Durham reports.
In another instance, the FBI rejected former Trump policy advisor Carter Page’s offer to be interviewed and set the record straight, which might have provided it with information that would have made it harder to get FISA approval to conduct surveillance of him.
“The evidence of the FBI's confirmation bias in the matter, includes, at a minimum, the following information that was simply ignored or in some fashion rationalized away” Durham writes, providing the following list:
• “The Australian diplomats told Crossfire Hurricane investigators that Papadopoulos never stated that he had any direct contact with the Russians nor did he provide any explicit information about an offer of assistance.”
• “There was a complete lack of information from the Intelligence Community that corroborated the hypothesis upon which the Crossfire Hurricane investigation was predicated.”
• “The FBI generally ignored the significant exculpatory information provided by Carter Page, George Papadopoulos, and Trump Senior Foreign Policy Advisor-1 during recorded conversations with FBI CHSs (Confidential Human Sources).”
• “The FBI failed to pursue investigative leads that were inconsistent with their theory of the case (e.g., Page's recorded denials of having any relationship with Paul Manafort, a fact about which there was available evidence).”
• “The FBI failed to take Page up on the written offer he made to Director Comey to be interviewed about the allegations contained in Michael Isikoff s Yahoo! News article and instead opted to seek FISA surveillance of Page.”
• “The FBI was willing to make use of the completely unvetted and uncorroborated Steele reporting in multiple FISA applications targeting a U.S. citizen, even after the Crossfire Hurricane investigators had determined that there were major conflicts between the reporting of Steele and his primary sub-source, Igor Danchenko -conflicts the FBI incredibly failed to resolve.”
• “The Crossfire Hurricane investigators did not even ask Steele about his role in providing information to Michael Isikoff as contained in the September 23, 2016 Yahoo! News article - information that essentially accused Carter Page of colluding with the Russians. And thereafter the same investigators demonstrated a willingness to contort the plain language of the article to suggest it was not Steele but Steele's employers who had given the information to Isikoff.”
• “The FBI ignored the fact that at no time before, during or after Crossfire Hurricane were investigators able to corroborate a single substantive allegation in the Steele dossier reporting.”
• “There was a complete failure on the part of the FBI to even examine - never mind resolve - the serious counterespionage issues surrounding Steele's primary subsource, Igor Danchenko.”
• “The FBI leadership essentially disregarded the Clinton Plan intelligence, which it received at almost the exact same time as the Australian Paragraph Five information. This was despite the fact that at precisely the same time as the Clinton Plan intelligence was received (i) the Clinton campaign made public statements tying the DNC computer hack to Russian attempts to help Trump get elected, (ii) the FBI was receiving the Clinton campaign-funded Steele Reports, and (iii) the Clinton campaign-funded Alfa Bank allegations were being prepared for delivery to the media and the FBI.”
• “The Crossfire Hurricane investigators essentially ignored information they had received as early as October 2016 regarding Charles Dolan, a longtime Democratic operative with ties to the Clintons who also possessed significant ties to Russian government figures who would appear in the Steele reporting, and never interviewed him.”
• “The Crossfire Hurricane investigators provided only partial, and in some instances misleading, information to Department attorneys working on the Page FISA applications while withholding other highly relevant information from those attorneys and the FISC that might cast real doubt on their probable cause assertions.”
Lastly, Durham writes, “the results of the OIG's Audit of 29 Applications also establish significant problems in the Page FISA applications, problems that point to bias and other factors,” noting that the four Carter Page FISA applications had “far more” (17) “material errors and omissions” than a separate audit of 29 non-Page applications, which had only four.
“Given the foregoing, and viewing the facts in a light most favorable to the Crossfire Hurricane investigators, it seems highly likely that, at a minimum, confirmation bias played a significant role in the FBI's acceptance of extraordinarily serious allegations derived from uncorroborated information that had not been subjected to the typical exacting analysis employed by the FBI and other members of the Intelligence Community,” Durham concludes.
Durham says the FBI may have “willfully ignored” information that didn’t support its Russia Collusion claim:
“In short, it is the Office's assessment that the FBI discounted or willfully ignored material information that did not support the narrative of a collusive relationship between Trump and Russia. Similarly, the FBI Inspection Division Report says that the investigators ‘repeatedly ignore[ d] or explain[ed] away evidence contrary to the theory the Trump campaign ... had conspired with Russia .... It appeared that ... there was a pattern of assuming nefarious intent.’”
Durham says the FBI should also have looked into the possibility that its investigation was being manipulated for political purposes, but failed to do so:
“An objective and honest assessment of these strands of information should have caused the FBI to question not only the predication for Crossfire Hurricane, but also to reflect on whether the FBI was being manipulated for political or other purposes.
“Unfortunately, it did not.”