In much the same way he did hours earlier on Monday’s NBC Nightly News, NBC Justice correspondent Ken Dilanian — who should be known as CIA Ken for his fealty to the agency — surfaced on Tuesday’s Today show to further spin for his real bosses in the intelligence community on Special Counsel John Durham’s report on the Trump-Russia probe.
Dilanian was shameless from the get-go in dismissing the report that found the Trump-Russia collusion investigation should have never even be launched: “Durham’s report is filled with blistering criticism of the FBI...but critics say Durham’s investigation ultimately fell flat, even though it lasted more than a year longer than the actual Russia investigation by Special Counsel Robert Mueller.”
Channeling the criticisms of the Clinton special counsels on their length, Durham similarly tut-tutted over the fact that “Durham brought just two criminal cases that ended in acquittals and his report called for no major changes.”
The last part wasn’t entirely accurate as not only does the report serve as a warning to intelligence officials, but Durham explicitly called for the creation of a position tasked with ensuring no improprieties in politically-charged investigations. In contrast, CBS chief investigative correspondent Catherine Herridge made sure to mention it on CBS Mornings.
After stating “Republicans [said] it exposed serious wrongdoing”, he went into a soundbite from Congressman Adam Schiff (D-CA) by boasting: “Democrats calling it a rehash that didn’t live up to its billing.”
Dilanian further reveled: “Mr. Trump on his TRUTH Social website, saying ‘the American public was scammed.’ But the report, though highly critical of the FBI, did not back up Mr. Trump’s claims that he was framed by a corrupt, deep state conspiracy.”
“In fact, Special Counsel John Durham did not find corruption or even actions motivated by politics,” he added. As we’ll see, he’d later disprove this point in a true stroke of stupidity.
After conceding Trump-Russia probe Special Counsel Robert Mueller didn’t find the Holy Grail of mass collusion, Dilanian defended the probe that ruined lives and caused a near-permanent suction of the national news cycle:
Although Mueller did find a Trump campaign eager to accept help from Russians. Durham’s report criticized what he called seriously deficient mistakes by the FBI, adding, the bureau was much more cautious and skeptical about allegations against the Clinton campaign.
Like MSNBC Republican and colleague Brendan Buck did Monday afternoon, Dilanian didn’t lament that his friends in the Justice Department and intel community made mistakes, but that Durham’s findings gave “potential fodder for Trump”.
ABC’s Good Morning America also defended the undermining of the 2016 election. Chief Justice correspondent Pierre Thomas dismissed the report as having found “not much new,” but he improved from World News Tonight by highlighting the Steele dossier and the Clinton campaign’s involvement:
Among what Durham calls his sobering findings, that the FBI relied on the so called Steele Dossier, a memo produced by a former British spy for a law firm representing the Hillary Clinton campaign, a dossier which Durham said was “full of rumor and speculation.” The report’s findings track closely with some of the damning conclusions...from the DOJ inspector general report from 2019...But that report ultimately concluded that the investigation into Trump was justified.
Thomas closed by implying the probe was a waste: “Durham’s investigation, which cost more than $6.5 million, falls far short of proving that there was a deep state conspiracy against Trump. Durham only convicted one lower level FBI official of misconduct...and two major trials ended in acquittal.”
Worse yet, he further justified the hounding of Team Trump based on the Trump Tower meeting.
So, was it the Trump Tower meeting, Trump calling out to Russia to “find” Hillary Clinton’s missing e-mails, or George Papadopoulos? Hard to keep it all straight!
For a liberal network, CBS Mornings was stronger. Even co-host and Democratic donor Gayle King said in a tease that the report found “major flaws in how the FBI investigated Donald Trump’s possible ties to Russia during the 2016 campaign” and liberal co-host Tony Dokoupil said Durham’s report cited “critical errors”.
Like she did on Monday’s CBS Evening News, Herridge didn’t mince words (click “expand”):
HERRIDGE: The Durham report found the FBI discounted or willfully ignored information that did not support the Russia collusion narrative. House Republicans now want Special Counsel John Durham to testify about his findings next week. After nearly four years of investigation, Special Counsel John Durham found the FBI lacked actual evidence to investigate then-candidate Donald Trump’s campaign in 2016. Durham said the Bureau was too reliant on investigative leads provided or funded by Trump’s political opponents. The report did not reveal major new findings, but it repeated prior criticism from Trump.
DONALD TRUMP [in July 2018]: There was no collusion at all.
HERRIDGE: The FBI expanded its original probe, known as Crossfire Hurricane, based partly on information from Christopher Steele. Steele, a former British spy, put together a research dossier alleging possible misconduct between then candidate Trump and Russia. Durham found “investigators could not and did not find any of the information contained in the Steele reporting.”
ANDERSON: This has been a big black eye for a lot of the federal intelligence law enforcement communities.
HERRIDGE: Bob Anderson is a former senior FBI executive.
ANDERSON: Where there’s smoke, there’s not always fire. And I think taking that extra second to look at this, verify things, before you actually went down that road might have been a little better off.
HERRIDGE: Critics charge the Durham investigation cost taxpayers more than $6 million and brought only two cases to trial. Both men were found not guilty and the third ended in a plea agreement.
ABC and NBC’s shameless spin for the intelligence community and refusal to admit to their own wrongdoing was made possible thanks to the endorsement of advertisers such as Citi (on NBC) and Subaru (on ABC). Follow the links to see their contact information at the MRC’s Conservatives Fight Back page.
To see the relevant transcripts from May 16, click here (for ABC), here (for CBS), and here (for NBC).