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John Durham's epic fail
Was nevertheless celebrated as a win
In a recent Newsmax interview, Alabama Senator Tommy Tuberville said the following, “If people don’t go to jail for this, the American people should just stand up and say, ‘Listen, enough’s enough. Let’s don’t have elections anymore.’” Which so-called scandal was he referring to? It does seem like there’s no shortage of them these days, but with the 2024 primaries well and truly on, it’s clear that the so-called scandals are increasing, and the collective national temperature is rising. The debt ceiling crisis lingers with a default possible in as little as two weeks on June 1st. There was the, once again so-called, Biden corruption scandal by the House GOP which was meant to blow the lid off the payoffs to the Biden family in return for—well, they never really got to that because their supposed whistleblowers “disappeared” right in time to avoid embarrassing themselves to the public. Maybe this had something to do with “Soros AGs” or the latest “Woke beer” controversy? No, it was perhaps a set of circumstances even flimsier than all those contrived controversies. Tuberville was referencing the BOMBSHELL Durham Report which secured, well, almost nothing after spending $6.5 million in three years attempting to prove the “Deep State” spied on Donald Trump’s campaign and opened an investigation into his campaign’s contacts with Russia because Hillary Clinton’s campaign told them to. Or something.
I’m not going to spend any more of your time refuting the nonsense MAGA spewed in the name of Saint Durham, the once glorious savior who was going to make all the deeply held QAnon fantasies into reality. There was something to “this Russia thing” as Trump once put it, and the “Crossfire Hurricane” investigation wasn’t started to hurt Trump. Bob Mueller secured convictions of multiple Trump campaign officials, including his campaign manager Paul Manafort. The bipartisan Volume 5 of the Senate Intelligence Report delved even further into the strange and often indefensible nature of the Trump campaign’s contacts with Russia. We’re still arguing over a thing that happened, and not only did Trump’s campaign seek help from Russia, the entire MAGA movement has pulled the Republican Party’s talking points in lock step with Kremlin propaganda outlets and other authoritarian states like China. Their media narratives are often identical, and if you desperately need to convince anyone that “collusion” between Trump and Russia occurred, it was in the convergence of their messaging.
But as we saw with Tuberville’s interview, what all of this propaganda mirroring has led to is MAGA Republicans embracing the authoritarian nature of their movement because of the authoritarian nature of Donald Trump. John Durham was an abject failure in his stated mission of putting people behind bars. By God he tried, but he failed. What he succeeded at was giving Republicans points to score in the propaganda arena. These “wins” are increasingly detached from reality, but they’re sold as wins nonetheless. Durham’s final salvo was a report stating he didn’t believe the Trump Russia investigation should’ve happened. Great, that’s his opinion as Trump and Barr’s handpicked minion sent out into the wild to go uncover a great conspiracy plot he couldn’t find because it didn’t exist. Durham’s opinion is a meaningless attempt to save face. He can think whatever he wants, but the lack of convictions speak for themselves. Nevertheless, right-wing media and even CNN are giving this man credit for things he failed to prove. It is a threat to democracy we’ve all seen and experienced for years now. It is not going away, but we must continue pushing back on it.
Durham tried to send people to jail. He failed.
Durham secured a single guilty plea over editing an email, a technicality that resulted in probation and no jail time whatsoever. Durham lost the two cases he took to trial because they were flimsy concoctions of QAnon fever dreams and MAGA influencer talking points. Remember, anyone can say anything on the internet. Anyone can claim a crime was committed. Anyone can demonize the FBI or Black Lives Matter or ANTIFA or trans kids for any supposed crime against humanity. Fox News can tease as many convictions as they like. DURHAM IS ALWAYS COMING, but he’s never quite here.
Proving those claims in court is an entirely different matter, and Durham could not do this. Considering he spent three years investigating, I have to imagine there were additional potential cases Durham pursued but ultimately didn’t prosecute. He was supposed to take down the entire Deep State, after all! But he only attempted to prosecute two cases. Those were presumably the cases he considered his strongest and with the best chance of succeeding. Since they didn’t, try to imagine how weak the other potential cases he didn’t bring must’ve been.
We’ve come to expect MAGA to make a scandal out of nothing, but there’s really nothing here other than a hyper partisan lawyer writing an anti-FBI screed based on his own personal opinion. Yes, the FBI made mistakes in 2016. The inspector general wrote up a report and gave his recommendations for reform at the FBI, which by all account the Bureau then carried out. That’s fine. But we already had that discussion at the time. We don’t need the Q-adjacent Trump appointee sticking his thumb in the wound, and he doesn’t need to be treated like an honest broker. CNN apparently disagree with this assessment, and in both sidesing this story, ultimately handed the right propaganda fodder which was amplified throughout various podcasts and shows in their information ecosystem. For instance, Jake Tapper’s statement that the Durham Report was “devastating to the FBI and, to a degree, it does exonerate Donald Trump” was a particular hit with MAGA media.
These were quick segments within a variety of hyperventilating coverage of Durham’s final report, only some of which is seen below.
It’s all manufactured. It’s all fake outrage. It’s all based on the opinions of a man once deemed the embodiment of QAnon’s vengeance quest but comes out of this looking more Forrest Gump than Matlock. Durham's 306-page report reads more like a series of 4chan screeds after they’d spent a few weeks with a copy editor. We should lend them an equal amount of credibility.
We are all allowed opinions in this country, but there was once a time when we had to prove those opinions—in a debate, in an interview, in open court—for them to be taken seriously. MAGA media has removed that necessity from the equation, and CNN’s plan for the 2024 election is to dog whistle to people on the right who hate them to improve their ratings. How’s that working out for them?
Yet still, it was enough to float the idea of ending the Republic as we know it.
As Jonathan Weisman wrote for The New York Times:
A report by the special counsel John H. Durham on the origins of the F.B.I.’s investigation into the Trump campaign’s work with Russia recommended no further prosecutions, produced no startling revelations and declined to suggest any “wholesale changes” to F.B.I. rules for politically sensitive investigations.
But in the world where Mr. Trump and his supporters operate, Mr. Durham’s four-year investigation was Watergate times 10, or 100. Mr. Durham’s awesome prosecutorial powers led to two minor criminal cases, both of which ended in acquittal. A former F.B.I. lawyer pleaded guilty to altering an email to help prepare a wiretap application.
In other words, John Durham changed nothing and proved nothing more than an email was altered against procedure. For this, a United States Senator is willing to suggest we should stop having elections altogether. Sure, Tuberville is known for being dumber than your average bear, and this was a supremely stupid and unjustifiable statement. But the man remains a sitting United States Senator. His words mean something! When he says that if people don’t go to jail for this, we shouldn’t have elections anymore, he’s saying we shouldn’t have elections anymore! Why? Because John Durham spent three years trying to send people to jail. He failed! Nobody is going to jail over the Durham Report. Nothing of substance is going to change as a direct result of Durham’s work. The right will scream bloody murder about this story and forget about it by Monday. In a month, most of their audience won’t even remember who John Durham is, but even though this was a nothingburger with a side of nothingfries, it was still enough for a sitting United States Senator to say we should smash our voting machines and, I guess, name a king? Imagine what he’ll say—imagine what they’ll all say—in the lead up to 2024. Imagine all the excuses they’ll make for Donald Trump to steal the election. Imagine what effect four years of Trump setting fire to the administrative state will do to our flailing democracy.
Durham proved effectively nothing that the right spent four years claiming. It was still enough for CNN to help him claim a victory. It was still enough for Tuberville to float the end of our Republic. We’re in truly dangerous times, even if we’re being hurtled forward by comically inept men whose primary function is gilding Trump’s wretched, baseless propaganda turds.
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