Following special counsel John Durham’s conclusion this week that the FBI should never have opened an investigation into whether former President Donald Trump colluded with Russia during the 2016 election, Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) has suggested that the bureau should be stripped of funding and that its agents should be criminally charged.
According to Durham’s 300+ page assessment, the FBI launched the investigation without any proof that members of the Trump campaign had contacted any Russian intelligence officers.
In an interview with Newsmax on Monday, Gaetz accused the FBI and Department of Justice (DOJ) of being politically biased in the investigation, asserting that the agency has turned into “the enforcement wing of the Democratic Party to play offense against Trump,” and that its actions are “very ugly for the future of a democracy where the people make the choices.”
“The report takes great lengths to point out the number of times where Trump was targeted in a way no other American would be,” Gaetz stated. “In essence, the FBI has now become a disinformation and election interference enterprise here in our country. It’s very damning for them, the Steele Dossier was nonsense, the probable cause standard even to originate an investigation … was never met, and you had a secret court that was lied to.”
“I think we have to deauthorize, defang, and defund many of these authorities and entities and different task forces that actually converted the just and righteous act of protecting our country with the desire to have a particular political candidate win or lose,” he continued.
The Durham report is an absolutely DAMNING treatise on the weaponization of the FBI against President Trump.
This should be a clarion call for legislative reform. We need to defund and deauthorize government entities that are converted from the just cause of defending our nation… pic.twitter.com/peaeMcVr6q
— Rep. Matt Gaetz (@RepMattGaetz) May 16, 2023
The congressman further suggested that the investigation would not have ended with a report alone but rather with “real significant indictments” if it had been initiated by a Republican candidate or an operation to aid one.
In addition to the three people Durham already charged, Gaetz continued by expressing disappointment that the report did not propose any additional indictments and stating that more people should have faced charges as a result of the probe.
Gaetz referred to the former FBI attorney who altered an email to falsely claim that a former Trump campaign member was not a CIA asset, even though the associate was. “The only indictment that Durham is able to cite here is the indictment of Kevin Clinesmith,” Gaetz said. After entering a guilty plea, Clinesmith was given probation.
“And guess what? He’s already back to practicing law,” Gaetz opined. “Got his law license back, and practicing law here in D.C. now. Insufficient.”
The FBI acknowledged “missteps” in its 2016–2017 investigation into the suspected Trump–Russia ties in a statement in response to the Durham report, which was released on the DOJ website hours later.
“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,” the FBI acknowledged in a statement. “Had those reforms been in place in 2016, the missteps identified in the report could have been prevented.”
Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) concurred with Gaetz that the FBI’s funding should be reduced during an interview with Fox News’ “Sean Hannity” on Monday night. He also added that he thinks the DOJ applies “double standards” to how it treats Republicans and Democrats.
Jordan declared, “The only way we can hold them accountable is to go after one thing that everybody cares about—the money.” “We have to look at the power of the purse if we’re ever going to get control of these agencies, who did this not just once, but multiple times,” he continued.
Gaetz argued the Durham report is an “absolutely DAMNING treatise on the weaponization” of government institutions against Trump in a post on Twitter on Monday. He also stated that the revelation “should be a clarion call for legislative reform.”
“In a proper world, Republicans and Democrats would be able to work together on this,” Gaetz declared. “It wasn’t that long ago that the FBI was a right-wing organization, weaponized against civil rights leaders and others. And it was wrong then, and it’s wrong now.”
This week, Trump capitalized on the study in a series of postings on Truth Social, claiming it shows the federal government started a systematic campaign to meddle in the 2016 election.
“Former Federal Agents, and others, claim retaliation by the FBI and DOJ. Gee, who would ever think such a thing could happen? ELECTION INTERFERENCE anyone?” Trump posted late Thursday night.
“Very sad watching what took place today in Congress regarding Whistleblowers and the FBI. There has never been a time like this in our Country, the complete weaponization of Justice. I am a victim also, but the real victim is the United States of America. Congress must use its purse strings to straighten it out, before it is too late! MAGA 2024,” he posted a few hours prior.