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GOP wants special counsel to explain why top FBI agents refused to cooperate with probe into weaponization of FBI against Trump

By Ben Marquis
|
May 25, 2023

In the final report from Special Counsel John Durham on the origins of the FBI's Trump-Russia investigation, known as Crossfire Hurricane, it was noted that certain former top officials had refused to cooperate with the special counsel's probe.

Now a pair of Republican senators are demanding to know why those individuals refused to cooperate and what, if anything, was done to compel their eventual cooperation, the Daily Mail reported.

The query is pertinent given the fact that the individuals who reportedly declined or refused to cooperate with Durham's investigation were all key figures who played prominent roles in the provenance and perpetuation of the FBI's anti-Trump investigation.

Certain Former FBI Officials Refused to Cooperate

On Tuesday, a letter was sent to Special Counsel Durham by Republican Sens. Ron Johnson (WI) and Chuck Grassley (IA), the ranking members of the Senate's Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations and Budget Committee, respectively.

That letter sought an explanation from the special counsel with regard to why certain former high-level FBI officials had refused to cooperate, if those individuals had been subpoenaed to compel their eventual cooperation, and if the Bureau itself had intervened in any way to prevent their cooperation, among other things.

As revealed in Durham's report, those individuals are: Former FBI Director James Comey; former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe; former FBI Deputy Assistant Director for Counterintelligence Peter Strzok; former FBI Assistant Director for Counterintelligence Bill Priestap; former FBI attorney Kevin Clinesmith; and Fusion GPS head Glenn Simpson.

Senators Say Refusal to Cooperate "Odd" Given Durham's "Authority to Compel Testimony"

In the letter to Special Counsel Durham, the two Republican senators wrote, "As we continue to review the report, we noticed that several high-level former government officials directly involved in Crossfire Hurricane either declined or partially declined to cooperate with your investigation."

"In addition, in Footnote 13, your report noted that 'some personnel' in the FBI’s Counterintelligence Division 'refused to cooperate' with your review and that FBI leadership intervened to 'urge those individuals to agree to be interviewed,'" they continued. "Congress requires additional information with respect to this refusal to cooperate and how it ultimately concluded."

Footnote 13 of Durham's report states, in part: "Moreover, FBI leadership made it clear to its personnel that they were to cooperate fully with our inquiry, which, in all but a few instances involving some personnel in the Counterintelligence Division, proved to be the case. In those few instances in which individuals refused to cooperate, FBI leadership intervened to urge those individuals to agree to be interviewed."

The senators went on to draw a comparison between Durham's investigation and that of former Special Counsel Robert Mueller, particularly how Mueller had issued "more than 2,800 subpoenas" and "executed nearly 500 search warrants" while Durham "served more than 190 subpoenas" from federal grand juries and "executed seven search warrants."

"It seems odd that individuals would be allowed to avoid fully cooperating with your office, particularly given your authority to compel testimony and records," the senators wrote.

Request for More Information on Refusal to Cooperate by Certain Individuals

The letter from the Republican senators to Special Counsel Durham then reached the heart of the matter and stated, "In order to better understand what, if any, actions your office took to obtain information from relevant individuals, we request that you provide detailed information related to the following individuals who apparently declined to fully cooperate with your investigation."

That includes Comey, who "declined to be interviewed;" McCabe, who "did not agree to be interviewed" despite an offer to "narrow the scope of subjects" discussed; as well as Strzok and Priestap, who both agreed to discuss "matters related to the FBI’s Alfa Bank investigation" but "declined to be interviewed" with regard to anything related to their "role in the Crossfire Hurricane investigation."

It was also noted that Clinesmith, who was prosecuted by Durham for fraudulently altering an email, had "declined to be interviewed by [your office] or cooperate with [your office’s] investigation;" and Simpson of Fusion GPS, who helped facilitate and spread the fraudulent Steele Dossier, had "declined to be interviewed."

Questions for Durham

The letter concluded with a series of questions that the senators asked Special Counsel Durham to answer prior to May 30, including whether any of the listed individuals had been subpoenaed, and if so, all relevant information related to such subpoenas.

They also asked, "Did the Justice Department, or any of its components, impede any of your office’s investigative activities?" and if so, for all relevant details to those impediments.

Finally, the senators asked, "Which FBI Counterintelligence personnel 'refused to cooperate,' if any of them "eventually cooperated," and for a full description of "how each individual 'refused to cooperate.'"