What the Durham Report on the Trump-Russia Hoax Means for America

The baseless investigation of the former president marked the beginning of an era in which federal agents increasingly work to influence elections.

Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump, 2019

By Hudson Crozier

What’s new: A 316-page report by special counsel John Durham—four years in the making—concluded that the FBI and intelligence agents lacked “any actual evidence” before they chose to investigate former President Donald Trump and his allies for alleged collusion with Russia in the 2016 presidential election.

Politically motivated: As noted in the report, this extensive spying operation on Trump’s campaign and administration relied on baseless claims “provided or funded … by Trump’s political opponents,” including Hillary Clinton’s campaign. Multiple officials involved also expressed clear anti-Trump sentiment.

Why it matters: The Russia collusion hoax was projected so strongly to the public that, by December 2017, half of American voters believed it was true, according to polling. This marked the beginning of an era in which the FBI and intelligence community increasingly use their influence to help sway elections by popularizing lies and concealing facts.

Before the 2020 election: The FBI refused to investigate Hunter Biden’s laptop with the explicit intent of protecting Joe Biden's campaign, according to multiple whistleblowers, and worked with Twitter to censor the story. The intelligence community also called the story a Russian hoax to give Biden “a talking point” in a presidential debate. Polling has shown that many Americans wouldn’t have voted for Biden if they were aware of the information revealed by the laptop.

What about 2024? The same FBI counterintelligence unit involved in the Russia collusion probe is now behind the investigation into Trump’s handling of classified documents, which involved an unprecedented raid of his home last year. Without substantial reforms or accountability, America’s elections remain vulnerable to the influence of politically motivated federal operatives.

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