"You lost all the cases you brought to trial": Dems go off on "partisan hack" John Durham at hearing

"You really don't know those very basic facts of the investigation," charged Rep. Adam Schiff

By Tatyana Tandanpolie

Staff Writer

Published June 21, 2023 3:16PM (EDT)

Special Counsel John Durham testifies before the House Judiciary Committee in the Rayburn House Office Building on June 21, 2023 in Washington, DC. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Special Counsel John Durham testifies before the House Judiciary Committee in the Rayburn House Office Building on June 21, 2023 in Washington, DC. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

House Democrats took aim at special counsel John Durham Wednesday in intense exchanges during a House Judiciary Committee hearing on his findings that the FBI should not have investigated potential collusion between Russia and former President Donald Trump's 2016 campaign.

Rep. Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., questioned Durham's lack of convictions during the yearslong probe, according to The Daily Beast.

"You only filed three criminal cases. You only brought two cases to trial, correct?" Nadler asked Durham, to which he responded in the affirmative.

"You lost all the cases you brought to trial, correct?" Nadler asked.

Durham responded that he was correct before Nadler asked about the length and cost of his investigation. Though Durham tried to defend the case, he ultimately agreed that the probe took four years for him to complete.

Their exchange was one of several between Durham and Democrats, including a contentious interaction he had with Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., who challenged the merit of Durham's inquiry for five minutes straight. 

Schiff rehashed the Mueller report findings with Durham, indicating that Trump's campaign did collaborate with Russian election interference efforts in the 2016 election.

Though House Republicans considered the hearing to be an illustration of the "two tiers of justice" that several of Trump's allies and supporters allege, Schiff's questioning forced Durham to admit his respect for Robert Mueller and that he didn't find any evidence that discredited Mueller's probe.

In one instance in their back-and-forth, as Schiff asked Durham about Russian intelligence and Trump's campaign working together in 2016, Durham responded that he didn't know.

"You really don't know those very basic facts of the investigation," Schiff fired back.

"I know the general facts," Durham replied. "Yes. Do I know that particular fact myself? No. I mean, I know that I've read that in the media anywhere."

The Trump-appointed Justice Department official, according to the outlet, seemed to hesitate when Schiff prompted him to decide whether Donald Trump, Jr. violated campaign laws by being receptive to Russia's offer of information on Hillary Clinton interference.

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Rep. Ted Lieu, D-Calif., also at one point criticized Durham during the Wednesday hearing, accusing him of acting like a "partisan hack."

Lieu began his questioning by going down a list of Trump's campaign staff — chairman Paul Manafort, policy adviser George Papadopoulos and deputy campaign manager Rick Gates — asking Durham if each had been convicted.

Durham responded to almost each question with "that's correct" but clarified that Gates' conviction was not in relation to the "Russia matter."

"Alright. Mr. Durham, you can hold yourself out as an objective deportment justice official or as a partisan hack. The more that you try to spin the facts and not answer my questions, you sound like the latter. So I'm just asked this simply," Lieu continued before asking Durham about Trump's former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, and longtime advisor, Roger Stone's, convictions.

Durham told Lieu that he was correct that both had been convicted.

"In contrast to multiple Trump associates who were convicted, you brought two cases to a jury trial based on this investigation, and you lost both. And so I don't actually know what we're doing here because the author of the Durham Report concedes that the FBI had enough information to investigate and thank goodness FBI did, because multiple Trump associates who committed crimes were held accountable. And the best way to summarize what happened is, thank you to the brave men and women of the FBI for doing their jobs. I yield back," Lieu concluded.

Rep. Steve Cohen, D-Tenn., remarked in another exchange that Durham was risking damage to his reputation. Durham, however, responded that he only cares about his reputation among his family and the "lord," according to The Daily Beast. His reply sparked applause from Republicans at the hearing.

Durham met privately with members of the House Intelligence Committee Tuesday to suggest some reforms to the Justice Department and the FBI.

He told members of the panel Wednesday that his suggestions did not pose "an easy fix."

"It's going to take time to rebuild the public's confidence in the institution," he said.

By Tatyana Tandanpolie

Tatyana Tandanpolie is a staff writer at Salon. Born and raised in central Ohio, she moved to New York City in 2018 to pursue degrees in Journalism and Africana Studies at New York University. She is currently based in her home state and has previously written for local Columbus publications, including Columbus Monthly, CityScene Magazine and The Columbus Dispatch.

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Related Topics ------------------------------------------

Adam Schiff Aggregate Jerry Nadler John Durham Politics Steve Cohen Ted Lieu