DeSantis Blasts ‘Weaponized’ Federal Agencies for ‘Egregious Abuse of Power’ in Trump–Russia Probe

DeSantis Blasts ‘Weaponized’ Federal Agencies for ‘Egregious Abuse of Power’ in Trump–Russia Probe
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis delivers remarks during the New Hampshire GOP's Amos Tuck Dinner in Manchester, N.H., on April 14, 2023. (Scott Eisen/Getty Images)
Tom Ozimek

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has weighed in on the newly released report by special counsel John Durham, demanding accountability from “weaponized” federal agencies that he accused of “egregious abuse of power” in manufacturing a “false conspiracy theory” about Trump–Russia collusion.

DeSantis made the remarks after Durham released his 306-page report on the origins of the FBI’s investigation into the campaign of then-presidential candidate Donald Trump, which the special counsel said should never have been launched.

“The Durham Report confirmed what we already knew: weaponized federal agencies manufactured a false conspiracy theory about Trump-Russia collusion,” DeSantis wrote on Twitter. “It reminds us of the need to clean house at these agencies, as they’ve never been held accountable for this egregious abuse of power.”

In his much-anticipated report (pdf), Durham faulted the FBI for various flaws in pursuing surveillance of the Trump campaign ahead of the 2016 presidential election, while concluding that the agency should never have launched its investigation into alleged collusion between Trump’s campaign and Russia.

Durham said there appeared to be anti-Trump bias on the part of some FBI agents “intimately involved in the matter,” who he said had a “predisposition” to launch the probe, which eventually became known as Crossfire Hurricane.

The special counsel also found that the FBI relied too much on unvetted investigative tips from Trump’s political opponents and did not rigorously analyze the information it received, and that the agency used a different standard when considering investigating allegations of election interference by then-candidate Hillary Clinton’s campaign.

While DeSantis has not officially announced his candidacy for the 2024 presidential election, there are signs he’s preparing to run.

Meanwhile, two Republicans who have thrown their hats in the ring—Vivek Ramaswamy and Perry Johnson—both said they’re glad the Durham report came out and were sharply critical of the FBI for its handling of the Trump–Russia probe.

“Although I am running for president as a Republican alternative to Donald Trump, I am thrilled that our former president has been rightfully exonerated by report findings,” Johnson told The Epoch Times. “We must unite against corruption and celebrate when truth prevails.”

Ramaswamy told The Epoch Times in a statement: “Enough is enough. Root out the corruption and shut down the FBI.”

Trump reacted to the Durham report by saying it proves the existence of a plot on the part of his political opponents to interfere in the 2016 election, while calling for congressional action.

“The Durham Report spells out in great detail the Democrat Hoax that was perpetrated upon me and the American people,” Trump wrote on Truth Social.

“This totally illegal act had a huge impact on the Election,” the former president added, describing it as the “Crime of the Century.”

Former President Donald Trump speaks at a CNN Town Hall at St. Anselm College in Manchester, N.H., on May 10, 2023, in a still from video. (CNN/Screenshot via The Epoch Times)
Former President Donald Trump speaks at a CNN Town Hall at St. Anselm College in Manchester, N.H., on May 10, 2023, in a still from video. (CNN/Screenshot via The Epoch Times)

FBI Responds

The FBI said in a letter to Durham (pdf) that it agrees with the flaws the special counsel identified in his report, while detailing a series of steps to “identify shortcomings” and prevent similar errors in the future.

In a statement responding to Durham’s report, the FBI said that the “missteps” identified by the special counsel could have been prevented if the “dozens of corrective actions” that have since been implemented at the agency had been in place back in 2016.

“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,” the FBI said.

Some of the reforms the FBI has since implemented include, according to its letter to Durham, installing more rigorous requirements for applying for surveillance; requiring personnel training for surveillance applications; updating agency guidelines on vetting confidential human resources; requiring additional approval for opening “sensitive” investigative measures; and expanding its internal oversight and auditing programs.

The FBI also said that the questionable conduct uncovered in Durham’s report occurred under the previous leadership and that “all senior executives overseeing the Crossfire Hurricane investigation have left the FBI as a result of termination, resignation, retirement.”

In 2019, Durham was tasked with investigating the origins of the FBI’s probe into allegations of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia to sway the 2016 election.

A year later, then-Attorney General William Barr appointed Durham as special counsel on the investigation, which culminated in the newly released report.

Building on the findings of Durham’s report, the House GOP has requested that he provide congressional testimony about his findings and answer questions.

Durham is expected to testify before the House Judiciary Committee, which is chaired by Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), on May 25.

Savannah Hulsey Pointer and Ivan Pentchoukov contributed to this report.
Tom Ozimek is a senior reporter for The Epoch Times. He has a broad background in journalism, deposit insurance, marketing and communications, and adult education.
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