Himes Delivers Opening Statement at HPSCI Closed-Door Hearing with Special Counsel John Durham
Washington, June 20, 2023
Washington, DC — Today, the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence held a closed-door hearing with Special Counsel John Durham.
Ranking Member Himes’ opening statement is below, as prepared for delivery.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Durham, thank you for appearing before the committee today and for your long and distinguished career in public service.
I approach today’s hearing with some trepidation, given the efforts that the Chairman and I have made to insulate this committee from partisan activity. The Durham Report has joined the Mueller Report, the Crossfire Hurricane investigation, the current Special Counsels’ investigations, and even the investigation of Hunter Biden as fuel for fires that will be used by some to burn down their political opponents. This dynamic must make Vladimir Putin very happy because in the end the only thing consumed by these fires is Americans’ confidence in their Democracy.
If you’ll allow me, I’d like to briefly summarize some central findings of the Durham Report as I see them. First, you found that the Crossfire Hurricane investigation began as we previously believed, on July 31 following the receipt of a tip from an Australian diplomat who relayed a concerning conversation with Trump campaign advisor George Papadopoulos. As you note, Crossfire Hurricane was opened months prior to the FBI Counterintelligence Division receiving a copy of Christopher Steele’s reporting. Unlike the DOJ OIG who investigated these issues previously, you believe the FBI should have opened the counterintelligence investigation as an assessment or preliminary rather than full investigation at that time. Nonetheless, you agree the FBI had an “affirmative obligation to closely examine” the tip it received.
Second, as laid out in greater detail in the classified annex to the report, you extensively investigated what you termed the “Clinton Plan Intelligence.” This was previously investigated by the DOJ OIG, and while you appear to believe the FBI should have considered additional investigative steps based on those intelligence leads in 2016, your own investigation as well as the DOJ OIG’s review have only added doubt about the veracity of that intelligence.
Finally, while you are rightly critical of the private statements of certain FBI employees, you did not find widespread political bias in the FBI. Instead, you found serious deficiencies. As is clear from your report, FBI was not investigating the Trump campaign until concerning claims regarding coordination with Russia were received from a foreign partner — claims that you note required an assessment or preliminary investigation.
If I could leave my colleagues with one thought, it would be this: It would be a disservice to our national security if we allowed the debate around these issues to weaken our shared commitment to combatting foreign interference and malign influence. As Director Wray testified just last week, since 2016 we have seen additional nations join Russia in taking aggressive steps, both overt and covert, to influence our political process and the outcomes of elections.
We must reject that on a bipartisan basis and insist that the FBI and the Intelligence Community root it out wherever it occurs and regardless of who stands to benefit.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I yield back.