The Durham probe has been a giant bust

Special counsel John Durham and former President Donald Trump

CNN  — 

For much of the last three years, Donald Trump has insisted that the probe being run by special counsel John Durham is on its way to blowing the cover off of a massive scheme to defame him and rob him of the 2016 election.

On Tuesday, Durham’s probe swung and missed – again. This time, Igor Danchenko, the primary source for a now-infamous dossier on Trump’s ties to Russia, was found not guilty of all the charges against him. That’s the second time this year alone that one of the prosecutions Durham engineered has flopped. In May, Michael Sussmann, a Hillary Clinton campaign lawyer, was found not guilty of lying to the FBI while passing on a tip about Trump and Russia.

As CNN’s Marshall Cohen noted: “In both cases, the defense argued that Durham was a prosecutor run amok, who cherry-picked facts, bullied witnesses and tried to concoct an anti-Trump conspiracy where none existed.”

Durham has no more cases on the public docket and reporting suggests he is winding down the investigation. To date, the three-year long odyssey has produced only a single guilty plea – of a low-level FBI employee who got probation.

The gap between the promises made – mostly by Trump – about what Durham would uncover and what the special counsel has actually found is massive.

“Hats off, because, it’s coming out, and it is coming out at a level – Durham has come out with things that are absolutely amazing,” Trump said in November 2021. “We all sort of knew that happened, and now we have facts, and I think they’re only going to get deeper and deeper – and it all leads back to the Democrats, Hillary and the dirty lawyers.”

Then, in February of this year, he offered this:

“It looks like this is just the beginning, because, if you read the filing and have any understanding of what took place, and I called this a long time ago, you’re going to see a lot of other things happening, having to do with what, really, just is a continuation of the crime of the century. This is such a big event, nobody’s seen anything like this.”

While it remains to be seen what Durham includes in his report, it’s worth noting that the special counsel investigation into Russia’s attempted interference in the 2016 election – run by Robert Mueller – was both a) shorter than Durham’s current probe and b) proved far more criminal wrongdoing.

The Mueller probe led to 37 people and entities charged on 199 criminal counts. Seven people pleaded guilty. Two were convicted at trial. Seven were sentenced to prison. The problems uncovered by Mueller were tied to some of the highest ranking members of Trump’s team – including campaign chairman Paul Manafort and senior White House adviser Michael Flynn.

To date, the Durham probe hasn’t come anywhere near that record. Durham’s final chance to show whether he has actually uncovered anything will come when he issues his final report.

But so far, this has been like so much of Trump’s boasting: Full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.