top of page

Kash Patel: Durham Failed. The Russiagate Playbook Will Be Repeated

“This was the one opportunity for John Durham to fix the two-tier system of justice. He was the man charged with that duty. And he had that opportunity. And in my opinion, Jan, he failed. And this will only degrade the FBI and DOJ and our intel communities further,” says Kash Patel, who was the chief investigator of the House Intelligence Committee’s Russiagate investigation back in 2017 and 2018.

“In the Durham report, it states that Kevin Clinesmith declined to participate. What do you mean ‘declined to participate’? Jan, do you remember the Mueller investigation? Was anyone allowed to decline their participation?” Patel says.

“Individuals like Kevin Clinesmith, Peter Strzok, James Comey, Andy McCabe … none of them were brought under subpoena and compelled to testify,” Patel says.

So what’s next? And in particular, for the Americans who feel increasingly disillusioned about accountability, what does Kash Patel see as the way forward?


Interview trailer:

Watch the full interview:



Kash Patel: Hey everybody, and welcome back to Kash’s Corner. The long awaited episode is here. John Durham’s report is out. We are going to dive into it from wire to wire. What may surprise you is not the extent of the fraud and corruption and unlawful activity that John Durham exposed in his report, but my reaction to it specifically in its failure to hold people accountable and John Durham’s shortcomings.

It’s not a criticism of John Durham directly, rather it was a moment in history where we had an opportunity to fix the two-tier system of justice that Jan and I have been talking about on our show for years. This moment may have slipped us by because John Durham failed to act. Why did he do that? What were his justifications and what is the outcome of the Durham report? Jan has a lot of pressing questions and we have a lot of things to cover. Where would you like to start, Jan?

Jan Jekielek: Kash, yes, absolutely. We’ve been talking about the Durham report and different iterations of new information, like the Horowitz report back in the day. We’ve been actually looking at this for five years. I have a headline on my wall from 2018, and I’m going to read it to you. This was the front page headline of The Epoch Times print edition, “Obama officials spied on Trump campaign using at least five methods.” This was in May of 2018.

We’ve known a lot of what was in this report already over the past five years. However, we have a lot of viewers that actually may not even know the core substance of what Russiagate is and how it happened. Why don’t you start us off right there.

Mr Patel: Let me see if I can give you five years in five minutes. As the chief investigator on the House Intel Committee, we put a lot of this information out that’s in John Durham’s report years ago. What was Russiagate? Russiagate was a political operation launched by the Democratic Party and the Hillary Clinton campaign to unlawfully utilize campaign dollars to go overseas and purchase false information from Christopher Steele, an FBI informant and former British Intelligence officer. They take that information and have it synthesized into a document and have it intentionally placed in the hands of the FBI.

The FBI takes that document and other information and launches a full scale investigation into Donald Trump, knowing the information in the document is false. If that’s not bad enough, they then increase their investigation and its capacity and take it to the max by going to the Federal Intelligence Surveillance Court.

That’s just fancy speak for a court that is secret. Its authorities are so expansive in intelligence collection that not everyone has access to it, and its inner proceedings are held behind closed doors. Once they go to the court, the FBI says to the judge, “We have all this information that Donald Trump is a Russian asset.” At that time, before the judge, they lie about the information, the facts, the biases, and most importantly, they do not give the court evidence of the innocence of the targets in that very investigation, one of the most fundamental requirements in a judicial warrant process.

The FBI has now knowingly lied to a federal court to ultimately achieve the objective that it wanted from the beginning, which was to surveil a political candidate that they did not like, and they succeeded. That’s Russiagate in terms of how it got off the ground and what steps the FBI took.

The rest is the autopsy on how could that have occurred in the United States of America in 2023? How could the premier law enforcement agency under James Comey and Andy McCabe allow themselves to lie and break the law to achieve a political objective? That’s exactly what happened and that’s what unfolded in the years since the Nunes memo and our corresponding report were put out, and Inspector General Horowitz’s report was put out. Now, we end up with John Durham’s special counsel report on the matter.

The FBI was so concerned with covering its own corruption that one of its deputies actually put out in writing that there’s to be no more documentation from the FBI on how to justify the Russiagate investigation. That’s in the John Durham report and we’ll put it out for our audience. Just think about that, Jan, the FBI who’s supposed to document everything, specifically had its leadership come in and say stop documenting, so that the cover-up could continue and they could never be exposed.

Mr. Jekielek: I want to highlight two things. The first one is that Russiagate goes in two stages. The first stage is the Clinton campaign opposition research. I use the research word in quotes here because of course it was all fabricated. The second part is where the DOJ and FBI pick up where the Clinton campaign left off once Trump wins. That is an astounding realization. I hadn’t fully grasped how it played out. That’s one.

Number two, that FISA [Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act] warrant was for a Trump campaign staffer, Carter Page, and not Trump himself. Because of the nature of these FISA warrants, it allowed them to be one hop away. Basically, surveillance on the entire campaign was allowed through this one FISA warrant on this one pretty low-level Trump campaign staffer.

Mr Patel: You’re absolutely right. Having done FISA warrants when I was a national security prosecutor, that’s exactly what they are for. You utilize your investigative prowess to lawfully target an individual that’s operating in a ring or an entity or a conspiracy. You target the weakest link, the one that you believe is easiest to get the warrant on. Once you flip it on, you can collect on everybody else, because of the sensitive nature and authority that that warrant provides. That is why it should never have been rubber-stamped like it was with the Carter Page warrant. Many individuals thereafter helped provide an unlawful justification day in and day out, for over a year.

Mr. Jekielek: Lee Smith noted that the only actual Russian intelligence that was collected in this whole thing was that Russia knew about the so-called Clinton plan as it was described in Durham’s report, which was the plan to smear Donald Trump and his campaign with the idea that he is a Russian asset.

Mr Patel: Yes, it turns out the only Russian assets were the FBI and the DOJ.

Mr. Jekielek: That’s a pretty strong statement, Kash.

Mr Patel: Let’s break it down for our audience. John Durham will give us the ability to do that, but I think our audience might know that I’m probably going to be a little harsh on Mr. Durham in this episode.

Mr. Jekielek: Kash, I’m seeing some really dramatic opposing views on this Durham report. On one side people say, “This is a complete failure. We have known all this information for years. This is falling flat. Where is the accountability? There is no accountability.” That’s one side.

On the other side people are saying, “Wow, we have this codified in an official DOJ document that there was no predicate.” Now, basically the world is forced to admit to this. To that effect, we even see headlines on CNN which talk about this, that there was no basis for this whole investigation in the first place.

Mr Patel: There are two main takeaways, Jan. With an investigation like this involving presidential candidates, presidents of the United States, and future presidents of the United States, there’s a political analysis to be made, and then, there’s a substantive legal analysis. We’ll focus mostly on the latter, but let’s just take care of the first one out of the gate.

The central question for special counsel John Durham for the entire Russiagate matter was the same question any prosecutor should have been asking themselves in any case, “Do they have the justification under the law to open this investigation? We answered that question with a resounding, no, after our investigation concluded back in 2018 with the Nunes memo and the corresponding Russiagate report that we publicized to the world. The media didn’t want to believe that fact. So, they carried the water for the deep state and the DOJ and the FBI who were conducting this investigation.

Through the process of Adam Schiff and company going to the world and continuing to lie that there was ample evidence and information that Donald Trump was a Russian asset, many people believed it. Now, we get to John Durham. He was supposed to be the final arbiter of that question. Did the DOJ and FBI lawfully open this investigation into Donald Trump in the first place? John Durham answered that question with a resounding, no. If you don’t believe us or the report, CNN let this out after the Durham report was published. We’ll put this up for our audience. Jake Tapper said that this was devastating.

Jake Tapper: Devastating to the FBI and to a degree it does exonerate Donald Trump.

Mr Patel: The John Durham report is devastating to the FBI, and the FBI had no predicates to open this investigation. Those were the findings and reporting from John Durham and that’s how CNN covered it. Now, if the investigation should never have happened, then nothing after it should have been permitted out of the DOJ and FBI for law enforcement purposes. It was permitted. It was permitted for political purposes.

What you have here, from President Trump’s perspective, is the political point. He will now go out there as he’s done the last four or five years and say it has now been definitively proven that Russiagate was a total fraud. There was no predicate to launch the investigation, because the FBI and DOJ did not have the facts to do so. That’s the political side. Now, the law enforcement, DOJ, and intelligence community side is much more complicated. The short answer is they didn’t have the facts to present enough information to a FISA court to surveil Donald Trump’s campaign in the first place.

They didn’t have those facts because the DOJ and FBI lied, broke the law, violated their oaths of office, and submitted fraudulent information they knew to be false, because they wanted to achieve a political end. There you have the confluence of the political and the legal from the John Durham report. As CNN put it, the underpinnings of this report are devastating to both the FBI and the DOJ.

As I will put it, the underpinnings to this report are a complete failure from my perspective. This was the one opportunity for John Durham to fix the two-tier system of justice. He was the man charged with that duty and he had that opportunity. In my opinion, Jan, he failed. This will only further degrade the FBI and DOJ and our intel communities, which will only disserve the American public when it comes to protecting our nation and upholding our laws.

Mr. Jekielek: Kash, first of all, the one person charged and convicted in this whole scheme is Kevin Cleinsmith. Going back to Carter Page for a moment, Kevin Cleinsmith altered an email that made it so that the FISA court believed that Carter Page had nothing to do with the CIA. When in fact, it was known that he actually was a CIA asset at the time. But there didn’t seem to be heavy consequences.

Mr Patel: Just think about it. An FBI attorney involved in the Russiagate investigation lied to a federal court intentionally, and altered a document knowing it to be false, just so the FBI and DOJ could cross the threshold of probable cause and submit it to a judge and get their warrant. That guy was convicted in federal court, but he’s also an example of where John Durham succeeded and where John Durham failed. He was convicted because the document speaks for itself.

What John Durham then did was a total failure. He did not bind Kevin Cleinsmith’s cooperation in the plea agreement thereafter. In the Durham report, it states that Kevin Cleinsmith declined to participate. What do you mean declined to participate?

Jan, do you remember the Mueller investigation? Was anyone allowed to decline their participation? You as a federal prosecutor with federal subpoena authority, you go and subpoena that individual. If they do not comply, the United States Marshals go and get them, place them under oath in a grand jury proceeding or at trial, and then you continue your investigation.

Hans Mahncke at the Epoch Times had a great post on social media the other day, and we’ll put it up now. He listed the folks that John Durham failed to gain participation from; Kevin Cleinsmith, Peter Strzok, James Comey, Andy McCabe, and a few others. The special counsel for the Russiagate investigation failed to commit these individuals to a grand jury—the architects of the biggest fraudulent conspiracy in DOJ and FBI history.

John Durham refused to bring in the director of the FBI and the deputy director who launched this investigation and signed the bogus warrants, along with participants like Kevin Cleinsmith and Peter Strzok, who orchestrated the entire counterintelligence narrative. None of them were brought under subpoena and compelled to testify. To me, that is a shocking failure of the first order as a prosecutor. I don’t see any justification for it. I’ll give you one vignette that was produced in the John Durham report.

Andy McCabe, the deputy director of the FBI, was so hell-bent on getting this investigation off the ground that when that infamous fabricated piece of evidence came in from London from Australian government employees that somehow Papadopoulos and Trump and company were going to utilize Russia to upend an election, Andy McCabe admits that he never spoke to the person who provided that information. Nobody at the FBI spoke to the person who provided that information.

Jan, that just doesn’t happen at any level of the FBI. When you open a case based on source reporting, you go speak to the source. This is how in bed they were with the Clinton campaign and others, or more clearly, how much they wanted to defeat Donald Trump. That led to the opening of the investigation.

It is spelled out in the Durham report that James Comey had this desire to see the FISA warrant occur. That is the investigation that Andy McCabe opened. James Comey so wanted to take it to the next step, as we highlighted in the opening of the show, that he literally kept begging him for it. That’s all in the Durham report.

The two people in charge of our law enforcement community launched a fraudulent investigation, lied to a federal court just to augment that investigation, leaked about it to the press, allowed it to continue for over a year, and John Durham didn’t even speak to them. That tells me everything you need to know about his failures from an investigative standpoint.

Mr. Jekielek: Is there some way that the higher level officials at DOJ could have somehow prevented him from doing this? I don’t actually understand how this works. Do you understand how it works?

Mr Patel: You’re asking if there is a mechanism at the DOJ to have stalled John Durham or to have obstructed his investigation? That rests with the Attorney General. Every special counsel appointed in U.S. history under the law reports to the Attorney General. John Durham answered that question for us in the opening of his report. He said that Merrick Garland essentially allowed him to do whatever he wanted.

Either John Durham is lying and put that in there anyway, or Merrick Garland somehow obstructed his investigation. Maybe we’ll find that out when John Durham testifies before Congress, which I’m sure is coming. Taking his report on face value is why I’m so critical of John Durham. He says he was allowed to do everything he wanted to do and no one got in the way. That’s almost as upsetting as the Russiagate investigation conducted by the FBI and DOJ itself.

Mr. Jekielek: As you discuss these different facts it’s really bizarre. How is it even possible that he didn’t talk to these people?

Mr Patel: If I’m being honest, Jan, which I try to be, calling it bizarre is being kind to John Durham. John Durham is a 30-plus year prosecutor, the U.S. attorney for the District of Connecticut, where he ran an entire federal prosecutor’s office, serving multiple jurisdictions and different administrations, both Democrat and Republican. There’s no way he doesn’t know how to use the grand jury process and subpoena individuals.

If it finally comes out that these individuals told him that they were going to plead the fifth, you know what to do. You take that individual before a federal judge and you give them immunity, and then they must testify. That’s how it works. I know that because I was a former federal prosecutor. I also know that because of the January 6th committees shenanigans and how they abused the subpoena process and compulsory process. There’s no excuse for John Durham here.

That is the purpose. It doesn’t mean that the witness has to volunteer and submit and request immunity. A federal court and the Department of Justice can force it upon you. Then, once you have immunity, you can’t be prosecuted. He didn’t even want to take those steps and get the answers to those questions. That tells me everything I need to know.

Like Bill Barr and Rod Rosenstein and Chris Wray and Merrick Garland and James Comey and Andy McCabe, he cared more about protecting the institution than fixing it. The two-tier system of justice today continues because John Durham failed.

Mr. Jekielek: It seems at the very least we have it codified what actually happened in this official DOJ document that Attorney General Merrick Garland did sign off on. You mentioned Congressman Schiff earlier. We recently got an exclusive with Congressman Schiff where he basically cast doubt on this. I’m just going to tell you what he said. He said, “If you read Mr. Durham’s report, what he said is that there wasn’t evidence of collusion before they began the investigation. That’s obviously a very important distinction.” What’s your reaction, Kash?

Mr Patel: Adam Schiff is the largest purveyor of disinformation and falsehoods in United States history. We should play the clip right now for our audience where Adam Schiff went to the microphone four years ago holding a manila envelope and said, “There is more than circumstantial evidence of Donald Trump’s involvement with the Russian collusion operation. I’ve seen it. I have it.”

Speaker: So, you have seen direct evidence of collusion.

Congressman Schiff: I don’t want to go into specifics, but I will say that there is evidence that is not circumstantial and is very much worthy of investigation. So that is what we ought to do.

Mr Patel: Then, fast-forward to your statement, which just happened this week and was given to Epoch Times. That is the lens through which any party should view Adam Schiff’s statements. He’s now putting an arbitrary date that the collusion started after the investigation. Then, you agree, Adam Schiff, that John Durham found the FBI and DOJ had absolutely no basis to launch that investigation. By your own admission, Adam Schiff, you lied to the world for the five years before John Durham’s report was published. Which version do you want us to believe?

That’s why Adam Schiff, Eric Swalwell, and the rest of the individuals in Congress who allowed the FBI, DOJ to be politicized and weaponized are equally as culpable in this criminal conspiracy as the individuals we’ve talked about on this show, both in the past and today.

Mr. Jekielek: I had an episode with Hans Mahncke and Jeff Carlson, some of our top Russiagate researchers, from the little corner of Twitter. We often talk on this show about how the hashtag unleashed the sleuths. We want to get information so folks who have incredibly analytical minds can look at that information.

Their take was, “Where is the accountability then? We know it’s real, and we know what happened. It’s intimately spelled out.” The FBI is basically saying, “Yes, there were problems, but we’ve rectified these problems and we’re going to make sure that it doesn’t happen again.” This is the statement for the general public, but there seems to be an accountability gap here.

Mr Patel: I’m so glad you brought this up, Jan. We’ll get back to the latter part of your question involving the FBI’s statement. Let’s start with accountability. That is the whole point and the whole reason that you have a special counsel is because you want accountability for people who broke the law. They need to be punished.

What Hans at The Epoch Times and everybody online were talking about was the frustration that so many are venting after the Durham report, “Where are the arrests? Where are the prosecutions? Especially since you, John Durham, in your 306-page report, have outlined a staggering amount of criminal conduct by the Russiagate characters; Comey, McCabe, Strzok, Lisa Page, Bill Priestap, Bruce and Nelly Ohr, Fusion GPS, Perkins Coie, Rodney Joffee, and Stefan Halper.” And the list goes on.

John Durham listed them all and explained in excruciating detail what we all knew this entire time. They lied to federal courts, withheld evidence, used the media to leak sensitive information, lied to the world, and rigged a presidential election. Now, they are going to continue to do it, because you, John Durham, held no one accountable, and arrested nobody of substance.

To me, Jan, that is his biggest failure. In his report he goes to great lengths to talk about DOJ policy and the reasoning for bringing prosecutions and charging decisions and the reasoning not to. You want to know when you bring a charging decision as a prosecutor—it’s when the facts support it. John Durham’s whole report supports an entire charging document against a slew of individuals. Then, he hides behind bogus DOJ policy, which is not the law by the way, and provides a myriad of deflections and reasonings to not bring criminal cases.

John Durham didn’t want to complete the mission he was asked to take on. In large part it’s because he didn’t want to be the one to tear down the DOJ and FBI, but that’s what was needed based on his report. Now it’s not fixed, which leads us to the FBI statement, which in my opinion is more lethal than the FBI’s conduct during Russiagate.

Chris Wray, the director of the FBI and his comms department, gave The Epoch Times and the media a statement on the Durham report. In summary, it says “The FBI already implemented so many changes that had they been in place back then in 2016, there would have been no corruption by Comey and company and the DOJ.” He has the gall to go out there and say, “We’ve already fixed it,” when you, Chris Wray, were part of the coverup, which is my next biggest complaint about Russiagate. Not just that it happened, but that DOJ, FBI that allowed it to be covered up on Chris Wray’s watch. Are we to take your word that you fixed it?

No, John Durham had an opportunity to achieve something that is probably never going to happen again in U.S. history—a moment when you could have fixed the FBI and DOJ wholesale and returned them to conducting law enforcement investigations and charging decisions based on law and not politics.

Not only did you let the architects of Russiagate get away with it, but you let the coverup operators like Chris Wray and Rob Rosenstein and company get away with it. Now, they put out bogus statements like. “If we were in charge back then, it would never have happened.” The coverup was worse than the crime, as is always the case.

Mr. Jekielek: On many of our episodes in the past, you were a real fan and booster of Durham. Frankly, in many cases, there were a lot of people saying, “Nothing is going to happen with this.” You said, “No, no, no.” You thought something would. This must be hitting you particularly hard.

Mr Patel: Yes. Look, I was John Durham’s champion. I was the guy in the arena saying, “No, he’s got it. He has a background. He’s apolitical. He knows how to conduct these types of investigations.” I thought he would apply that skillset and not be swayed by media politics in the current environment. I was wrong. That’s why you’re right, Jan. It is frustrating for me to see. But it’s not about me being right or wrong.

The loss here is for the United States of America. The loss here is that while the Democrats and the Hillary Clinton campaign and the FBI and Comey and Brennan and Clapper and all these individuals knew about the crime of the century and permitted it to occur—the crime of the century being Russiagate, not that Donald Trump was a Russian asset—when Durham had the opportunity to restore faith in our judicial process, he failed.

There’s one more residual effect that he failed to cure, and it’s already happened again. We’ve talked about it on past shows, and I’ve dubbed the 51 Intel letter as the Steele Dossier 2.0. It’s by the same perpetrators who ran the same exact playbook back when they ran the Steele dossier to rig a presidential election wire to wire.

Here’s what’s worse, Jan. They’re probably doing 3.0 and 4.0 because they are all sitting there saying, “We got away with it. Not only did we get away with it, James Comey has been telling tall tales for years and making millions off his book.” Andy McCabe had his pension restored after he was fired by Donald Trump at the FBI. This administration restored his pension and rewarded him for breaking the law.

That’s just naming three individuals who were rewarded for their malfeasance and unlawful conduct, all because John Durham failed to act. Who’s going to be next? I’m sure we’ll be talking about it on our show. What’s the next iteration? We already have the 51 Intel letter. But as I said, I’m sure 3.0 and 4.0 are on the way. That, Jan, is the biggest harm to America. Our judicial system is not even tier one, tier two, or tier three—now it doesn’t even rank anymore.

Mr. Jekielek: Kash, the 51 intel letter, as you call it, amounts to significant election interference. Many people have been saying Russiagate itself amounts to significant election interference, as you just said earlier on the show as well. You expect there will be future variants. A lot of people at this point are wondering about the civic process. We keep hearing about it in the comments on different episodes. What’s the point in participating in the electoral process if things like this happen? How do you respond to people like that?

Mr Patel: Simple. If you bend the knee to these criminals, then you’re worse than these criminals. The fight was never meant to be easy and it was never meant to be singular. My advice is that if you give in, you’re worse than they are. This country and this judicial system in our law enforcement community can go back to being the premier ones in the world, but it requires a significant course correction.

Here’s the one thing, and it goes back to the political portion of the analysis. So many people this past week are sitting there saying, “We were lied to for four or five years. This election rigging thing isn’t a conspiracy. This Russiagate stuff is real. It wasn’t Donald Trump, it was the FBI and DOJ and the intelligence community.” Now, we have to utilize that information that is unequivocally true and go out there and say, “If you want to restore faith in the FBI and DOJ, then you need to put people in charge who are going to do that.”

We have identified chapter and verse individuals that never should be in the United States government again. Some are still serving and they should be removed immediately. When you do that lift, when you undertake that gigantic measure, then and only then can you restore our faith in our republic.

It’s not easy, Jan. I’m sure a lot of people will say, “I just don’t want to do it.” To me, if you don’t do it and you don’t keep fighting, then I’m putting you in the same basket as the conspirators and criminals that committed Russiagate at the FBI, DOJ and cia.

Mr. Jekielek: I just want to see if I got this clearly. You’re saying be active civically, vote, and participate in the electoral process as much as you can. Am I reading that right?

Mr Patel: Yes. You can do so knowing that Russiagate happened, a version of it happened again, and the next iteration is probably going on already because there was no punishment and accountability. So, it’s your job to educate the people in your community and around you about it, especially around election time.

We’ve talked about it in the past how the House of Representatives has a responsibility here to start subpoenaing these individuals. They should start with the list that John Durham failed to even talk to, that Hans Mahncke publicized, and they should add Gina Haspel to that list, the former station chief in London who allowed the Russiagate narrative to be launched, and who permitted the 51 Intel letter to be penned on her watch as director of the CIA.

It should also include the likes of Chris Wray, and that’s not all. The list must continue on. Peter Strzok, Andy Mccabe, James Comey, Brennan, Clapper, Lisa Page, Fusion GPS, Michael Sussman, Marc Elias, Bruce and Nelly Ohr all must testify.

That is an intense list of individuals who have lied and broken their oaths of office and the law in the service of this country. The very least the United States Congress can do is subpoena them and make them testify before the public so that we can continue the civics process we are discussing now. We are not going to get it from the FBI and DOJ.

Mr. Jekielek: This concept of civic engagement has been coming up again and again in both American Thought Leaders episodes and other writing that we’ve been doing here at the Epoch Times. I will put my stamp of approval on that one. Kash, it’s time for our shout-out.

Mr Patel: Indeed, it is Jan. This week’s shoutout goes to Rory Rea. Thanks so much for your comments on our quote board at Kash’s Corner. Thanks so much to everybody who leaves commentary and questions there. We read them all, and I know Jan and