President Trump on Monday called for former FBI Director James Comey and Democrats to be held accountable for spending years investigating alleged collusion between himself and Russia, now that Special Counsel John Durham‘s report has come out and determined that the Trump–Russia probe should never have been launched.
“I, and much more importantly, then American public have been victims of this long–running and treasonous charade started by the Democrats — started by Comey,” Trump told Fox News Digital. “There must be a heavy price to pay for putting our country through this.”
In his report, Durham found that the Department of Justice and FBI “failed to uphold their mission of strict fidelity to the law“ when it launched the Trump–Russia investigation. He also found that “senior FBI personnel displayed a serious lack of analytical rigor towards the information that they received, especially information received from politically–affiliated persons and entities.”
Trump said the activities surrounding the FBI‘s original Trump–Russia investigation were “a total disgrace,” and said “public anger over this report is at a level that I have not seen before.”
“This report took a long time because John Durham is a very thorough investigator,” Trump said. “But the result is unequivocal and an absolute disaster in terms of justice.”
He added that “the national security implications of what they did are very grave.”
“It turned out to be a giant and very dangerous hoax,” he said, adding that he would have “further comment in the near future.”
The FBI released a statement in response to Durham‘s report, saying that “the conduct in 2016 and 2017 that Special Counsel Durham examined was the reason that current FBI leadership already implemented dozens of corrective actions, which have now been in place for some time.”
“Had those reforms been in place in 2016, the missteps identified in the report could have been prevented,” the FBI said. “This report reinforces the importance of ensuring the FBI continues to do its work with the rigor, objectivity, and professionalism the American people deserve and rightly expect.”
Durham‘s report did not recommend any wholesale changes in the guidelines and policies that the Department and the FBI now have in place to ensure proper conduct and accountability.
Trump‘s comments are likely to further fuel the ongoing debate on Capitol Hill over the origins of the Trump–Russia probe and the role that politics may have played in its launch. Republicans have long argued that the investigation was politically motivated and was designed to damage the Trump presidency. Democrats, on the other hand, have argued that the investigation was legitimate and necessary given the evidence that they had at the time.
Either way, Durham‘s report has put the spotlight back on Comey and McCabe, with Republicans likely to use it to further argue that the investigation was politically motivated and that the two played a role in its launch. Democrats, meanwhile, are likely to point to the FBI‘s statement that “had those reforms been in place in 2016, the missteps identified in the report could have been prevented,” as evidence that the investigation was warranted.