(Video) Matt Gaetz Rips Into John Durham: ‘You Won’t Tell Us Who Gave the Orders Because You’re Protecting Those People!’

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Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) questions Special Counsel John Durham during House Judiciary Committee hearing (6/21/23). (Credit: U.S. House/YouTube)

While most of the fireworks from Special Counsel John Durham’s testimony before the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday came from contentious questioning by the Democrats, toward the end of the hearing, there were some additional pyrotechnics compliments of the Republican members. Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY) ceded some of his time to Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), at which point Gaetz took after Durham in a rather unexpected turn. (Video is cued up to the introduction of Gaetz’s questioning.)

 

First, Massie set the scene:

Massie: Mr. Durham, this seems to have all started with one person, but I don’t see his name in your report — I see it in Mueller‘s report 89 times. Who did Mr. Papadopoulos meet with that gave him this supposed Russian information?

Durham: When Mr. Papadopoulos was interviewed by the FBI, he had identified Joseph Mifsud as the person who provided him that information.

Massie: Did you interview Joseph Mifsud?

Durham: We attempted to interview him. We pursued every lead that we had. We talked to a lawyer that he had in Europe. But we never were able to actually make contact with him so we could interview him.

Massie: Do you think he’s a Western source? Is he associated with Western intelligence?

Durham: It’s hard to say who Mr. Mifsud is associated with — he was tied up with Link University, Mr. Scotti, who had involvement in the Italian government, and they were acquainted — hard to say who Mifsud is…

Massie then yielded the remainder of his time to Gaetz, who was loaded for bear: “Hard to say who Mifsud is?! He’s the guy who started the whole thing. We’ve known it for years.”

Gaetz then directed an aide to play video from July 2019 featuring Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s testimony before the Judiciary Committee, as Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) questioned him about the mysterious Mr. Mifsud:

Jordan: When the special counsel‘s office interviewed Mifsud, did he lie to you guys, too?

Mueller: Can’t get into that.

Jordan: Did you interview Mifsud?

Mueller: Can’t get into that.

Jordan: Is Mifsud Russian intelligence or Western intelligence?

Mueller: Can’t get into that.

Jordan: Well, I’m reading from your report. Mifsud told Papadopoulos, Papadopoulos tells the diplomat, the diplomat tells the FBI, the FBI opens the investigation July 31, 2016, and here we are three years later, July 2019, the country’s been put through this — and the central figures who launches it all? Lies to us. And you guys don’t hunt him down and interview again and you don’t charge him with a crime. Maybe a better course of action is to figure out how the false accusation started; maybe it’s to go back and actually figure out why Joseph Mifsud was lying to the FBI. And here’s the good news — here’s the good news. That’s exactly what Bill Barr is doing — and thank goodness for that. That’s exactly what the attorney general and John Durham are doing.

Hard to believe how naively optimistic Jordan sounds in that clip. Also hard to believe that was four years ago. Now back to Gaetz’s grilling, present day:

Gaetz: Mr. Durham, was that what you were doing…Was finding out who Mifsud was what you were doing?

Durham: We pursued that avenue, yes.

Gaetz: Right, but was he — this whole thing was an op, Mr. Durham. This wasn’t like a bumbling, fumbling FBI that, like, couldn’t get FISA straight. They ran an op. So who put Mifsud in play? You don’t know, do you?

Durham: I do not know that — I can’t give you the answer to that.

Gaetz: For years — you had years to find out the answer to what Mr. Jordan said was this seminal question, and you don’t have it. And it just it just begs the question whether or not you were really trying to find that out? Because it’s one thing to criticize the FBI for their FISA violations, to write a report — they’ve been criticized in plenty of reports. Some have referred to your work as just a re-packaging and regurgitation of what the inspector general already told us. So, if you if you weren’t going to do what Mr. Jordan said you were gonna do in that video, and give us the basis for all of it, what’s this all been about?

Durham: I’m not exactly sure the import of your question. If your question is did we try to locate and interview Mr. Mifsud, the answer is yes. We expended —

Gaetz: Why didn’t you subpoena him? Why didn’t you subpoena him to a grand jury…Why didn’t you send him a grand jury subpoena?

Durham: Mr. Mifsud? You’d have to find Mr. Mifsud before you could serve a grand jury. subpoena on him.

Gaetz: You guys were out in Italy — was it you and Bill Barr looking for authentic pasta over there? Or Mifsud.

Durham: No, we were looking for information that might help us locate Mifsud.

Gaetz: But you know who I think could probably locate him? The features of Western intelligence and possibly our own government that put him in play. Your report seems to be less an indictment of the FBI, and more of an inoculation — lowercase “i,” of course — and like many inoculations, may have worse consequences down the road. We’ll have some time to discuss this matter further, but it’s just hard, it’s just hard to, like, pretend as though this was a sincere effort when you don’t get to the fundamental thing that started, the whole deal.

Durham: I was away from my family for four years, essentially doing this investigation — this, my view is a sincere effort. The fact that you can’t find somebody overseas should not come as a big surprise —

Gaetz: Well, could you find Azra Turk?

At that point, Massie reclaimed his time to ask Durham (about Mifsud): “Is he alive or dead?” To which Durham replied: “We don’t know.”

But Gaetz wasn’t done with Durham — not by a long shot. When it was his turn to question Durham, Gaetz turned the heat up further:

Gaetz: Yeah, I agree with Mr. Biggs. You’ve given us testimony today that you’re disappointed that the FBI didn’t cooperate more, right? That was your testimony.

Durham: Said that.

Gaetz: Yeah, so, we’re disappointed too, but the difference is, when regular folks do things that are wrong and unlawful, there’s typically greater effort to try to get those people before a grand jury, to utilize criminal process where appropriate — not, not for other purposes. And it’s just like, oh well, Bill Priestap (the guy who might’ve set this whole op in motion) he just didn’t want to talk to you about certain things, and you were real accommodating to that. And then Mifsud, the person who juices Papadopoulos to create this predicate that you find improper, you guys, I mean — did you ever know who his lawyer was? Mifsud’s lawyer?

Durham: Talked to his lawyer in Europe, not the — I don’t know if he’s represented in the United States.

Gaetz: So you could find his lawyer, but you couldn’t find him?

Durham: We contacted somebody that we knew had represented him, in part of the effort to try to locate him.

Gaetz: And you got the lawyer, and then now you’re sitting here in front of the judiciary saying you could find the guy’s lawyer, but you couldn’t effectuate the service of a subpoena because you couldn’t find him? Do you know how silly that sounds?

Durham: Well, first of all, as you may or may not know, we wouldn’t have the authority to serve a subpoena overseas. The lawyer didn’t know where Mifsud was — he was in communication with him, but he claimed not to know where he was — and we were trying to arrange an opportunity to talk to Mifsud.

Gaetz: Did you take possession of two BlackBerry phones from Mifsud in any way?

Durham: There were phones that were provided to us by this person’s lawyer —

Gaetz: Oh, so you could find the phones but not the guy. Do you see how silly this looks? You found the lawyer, you found the phones, but the actual dude who got ordered by Western intelligence to go start this thing you couldn’t find? It’s kind of laughable. It seems like more than disappointment. It seems like you weren’t really trying to expose the true core of the corruption — that you were trying to go at it another way.

Durham: As we said in the report and I said in my opening remarks, we pursued the facts as best we could —

Gaetz: Well, how about this fact, Mr. Durham: The entire Mueller team does a hard reset on their Apple phone, in synchronization, to wipe away evidence. Did you investigate that?

Durham: I’ve read that.

Gaetz: Well, why didn’t — did you investigate it? Who gave the order on the Mueller team to wipe the phones?

Durham: That was not something that we were asked to look at, and we did not —

Gaetz: That’s not true, Mr. Durham, that is not true, because I am holding the document that authorizes your activity, and it specifically says: the investigation of Special Counsel, Robert Mueller…And so, like, whether it’s the Mueller team, Mifsud…how about Azra Turk? Azra Turk — what’s Azra Turk’s real name? Do you know that?

Durham: I’m not gonna be disclosing the names of FBI personnel that —

Gaetz: Oh, so the FBI sends somebody to go honeypot George Papadopoulos — who gave the order to do that?

Durham: I think that’s beyond the scope of what’s in the report.

Gaetz: It’s literally the scope of what you’re charging order is! Who put it in motion? We get after it was put in motion, the FBI did a bunch of wrong and corrupt things. Totally understand — we’re trying to deal with that. But when you are part of the cover-up, Mr. Durham, then it makes our job harder.

Durham: Yeah, well, if that’s your thought, I mean, there’s no way of dissuading you from that. I can tell you that it’s offensive, and that the people who worked on this investigation, and spent their lives trying to protect people in this country and pursue, within the law, what it is that we are authorized to do —

Gaetz: You tried two cases, lost both of them, and then the one guilty plea you got, Clinesmith? Clinesmith is back to practicing law in Washington DC today.

Durham: That’s beyond my control.

Gaetz: Right, but the fact that you allowed that plea to occur, right? And then the punishment was insufficient. The fact that you didn’t charge Andrew McCabe, you didn’t convict the lyin’ Democrats or the lyin’ Russians, you didn’t investigate Mifsud or the Mueller probe, even though, as we sit here today in black letter, that was your charge — have you ever heard of the Washington Generals?

Durham: The Washington Generals? Yes.

Gaetz: And they’re the team that basically gets paid to show up and lose, right?

Durham: (Laughing) I’m sure that the players who exert blood, sweat, and tears don’t view it that way, but you might.

Gaetz: I think they do. I think they do because the job of the Washington Generals is to show up every night and to play the Harlem Globetrotters, and their job is to lose —

Durham:  Oh, I’m thinking — I’m sorry — of a different, I was thinking of a different team.

Gaetz: Yeah, so their job is to lose, and I’m kind of wondering, and it just seems so facially obvious, that it’s not what’s in your report that’s telling, it’s the omission — it’s the lack of work you did. And for the people, like the chairman, who put trust in you, I think you let them down, I think you let the country down, and you are one of the barriers to the true accountability that we need.

Durham: Do I get to respond to that or comment on that? Well, I don’t know if you’ve ever investigated a crime —

Gaetz: I don’t know that you have. You didn’t investigate these, Mr. Durham. How about Andy McCabe? Did you charge him? Did you investigate him?

Jordan: The gentleman’s time has expired. The witness can respond, then we’ll move on to our last —

Durham: I don’t know, Sir, whether you’ve ever had occasion to try to investigate crimes under the rules and regulations, and under the Constitution that we’re bound by. We can gather evidence, in particularly lawful ways, but we can’t charge people, because we might think something —

Gaetz: It’s not just that you didn’t charge — it’s that you didn’t investigate. You didn’t investigate the Mueller team wiping their phones and you won’t tell us who gave the orders because you’re protecting those people!

As a regular observer of hearings like this, I couldn’t help but notice the pivot toward lambasting Durham from the Republican side. It seemed to occur while the committee was in brief recess to take a floor vote (regarding whether or not to move forward with censuring Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), a member of the committee who had his own tangle with Durham earlier in the day). Was that a strategic move to undercut arguments that Republicans were just glomming onto Durham to generate talking points and defend the honor of their beloved former president (as some of the Democrats on the committee insisted)? Or is something else afoot here? Was Durham indeed playing the role of Washington General? Controlled opposition to appease the calls for accountability while running cover for the “deep state”?

It’s hard to know anymore who’s playing who, and who’s running what op. I guess that’s what years of government officials acting in bad faith and refusing to be straight with the people who elect them and pay their salaries breeds.

And as for accountability, well, I hope no one’s holding their breath.

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