Coming up on three years ago, U.S. Attorney John Durham was assigned to look into possible criminal mischief by the FBI and others surrounding the probe of Donald Trump as a supposed Russian spy. A recent court filing says former Clinton campaign lawyer Michael Sussman used access to computer data to try to build a Trump-Russia collusion narrative that proved false. He's already charged with lying to the FBI. He says he’s not guilty. Today, we speak with Congressman Darrell Issa, a top Republican on the House Judiciary Committee, about the long-running investigation.
The following is a transcript of a report from "Full Measure with Sharyl Attkisson." Watch the video by clicking the link at the end of the page.
Way back in May of 2019, U.S. Attorney John Durham was assigned to look into possible criminal mischief surrounding the FBI’s probe of Donald Trump as a supposed Russian spy. Durham's results were repeatedly promised well before the 2020 election and were relevant to it— but they never came.
While the Durham probe continues, there have been three indictments announced so far. One led to a guilty plea of an FBI attorney. Attorney Kevin Clinesmith doctored a document so that the FBI could get a wiretap to secretly spy on a Trump associate.
Now with the investigation approaching year three, Republican Darrell Issa says whatever Durham finds is nearing the category of too little, too late.
Issa: Well, “Justice delayed is justice denied” is not some sort of a trite statement; it's very true. Anything that comes out of the Durham Report... they could lynch Hillary Clinton, and it wouldn't change a thing. The fact is, time has passed. It is pretty irrelevant, except it's a lesson to Congress that putting real-time limits and putting real meat in activities, including Inspector General's reports and so on, is more important than ever. The time it takes to complete an investigation, or the time it takes for Congress to get to the truth, impacts whether or not you're going to get the truth and compliance in a timely fashion. If you can hold an administration accountable in real time, they will cooperate. If they know they can run out the clock, as they often do, they won't.
Sharyl: One of the biggest surprises to me, as a journalist, is what's been revealed about government surveillance, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, with abuses logged in just a sampling of records by the FBI, with missteps and lapses. And yet, I haven't heard on any scale that's been publicly announced, that anyone's been held accountable, or that anything in the system will be changed, other than we keep hearing, "Well we'll reeducate our agents and make sure they know the rules," and so on.
Issa: Well, because the FBI and the Department of Justice have told us time and time again they'll do better next time, at each reauthorization — once again, the next reauthorization, is in fact, the time to either put teeth in the enforcement or take away some of the capability. Particularly those that were granted under the Patriot Act.
Sharyl: And what do you think is going to happen with that? It seems like every time there's a chance for members of Congress to do some accountability— in fact, I was told by members of both parties that they favored more rules when there was a key reauthorization that came up, but that their party leaders convinced them to vote against making any changes at that time— do you anticipate that that's going to be different?
Issa: I expect the same forces will be in play in the next reauthorization. And one of the challenges will be for people, like myself, who were here for the Patriot Act, who have been here for the promises of reauthorizations, to stand with Jim Jordan, or whoever else will stand with you, to say, "No, no, your time is up. Some of these capabilities go away, and if you want to keep some of them, then there have to be criminal and/or civil penalties for misconduct or failures by the Department of Justice and the FBI." I use the latter, because they usually claim that it's an omission. The reality is that it is a deliberate omission. From the very beginning, we have seen that what they do is, they like a law that says you can do the paperwork after, because, of course, we need immediate answers. And yet, when the paperwork isn't done, never done, not only does this go on, but often it's reauthorized multiple times without the original justification ever being before the judge.
Sharyl (on-camera): 46 Republican senators have asked Biden’s attorney general to give assurances that Durham will be allowed to finish his investigation and get all resources needed.
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