Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) has suggested that the FBI should be defunded and its agents criminally indicted after special counsel John Durham concluded this week that the federal agency should have never launched an investigation into whether former President Donald Trump colluded with Russia during the 2016 election.
Durham’s 300-plus page report (pdf) asserted that the FBI rushed into the probe without having any evidence that officials from the Trump campaign had contacted any Russian intelligence officer.
During an interview with Newsmax on Monday, Gaetz accused the FBI and Department of Justice (DOJ) of being politically biased in the probe, alleging the agency has become “the enforcement wing of the Democratic Party to play offense against Trump,” describing its actions as “very ugly for the future of a democracy where the people make the choices.”
“The report takes great lengths to point out the number of times where Trump was targeted in a way no other American would be,” Gaetz said. “In essence, the FBI has now become a disinformation and election interference enterprise here in our country. It’s very damning for them, the Steele Dossier was nonsense, the probable cause standard even to originate an investigation … was never met, and you had a secret court that was lied to.”
“I think we have to deauthorize, defang, and defund many of these authorities and entities and different task forces that actually converted the just and righteous act of protecting our country with the desire to have a particular political candidate win or lose,” he added.
The congressman also argued that if the probe had been driven by a GOP candidate—or an operation to help a Republican candidate’s campaign—it wouldn’t have concluded with just a report, but with “real significant indictments.”
Gaetz went on to say that he’s disappointed the report did not recommend any indictments in addition to the three people Durham already prosecuted, pointing out he believes more people should have been prosecuted as a result of the investigation.
“The only indictment that Durham is able to cite here is the indictment of Kevin Clinesmith,” Gaetz said, referring to the former FBI lawyer who doctored an email to state that a one-time Trump campaign associate was not a CIA asset when the associate actually was. Clinesmith has since pleaded guilty and received probation.
“And guess what? He’s already back to practicing law,” he added. “Got his law license back, and practicing law here in D.C. now. Insufficient.”
The FBI responded to the Durham report hours after the DOJ published it on its website, acknowledging “missteps” in its 2016–2017 investigation into the alleged Trump-Russia ties.
“The conduct in 2016 and 2017 that Special Counsel Durham examined was the reason that current FBI leadership already implemented dozens of corrective actions, which have now been in place for some time,” the FBI wrote in a statement. “Had those reforms been in place in 2016, the missteps identified in the report could have been prevented.”
Meanwhile, Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) echoed similar sentiments during an interview on Fox News’ “Sean Hannity” Monday night, agreeing with Gaetz that the FBI’s funding should be cut, adding he believes there are “double standards” in the DOJ’s treatment of Republicans and Democrats.
“The only way we can hold them accountable is to go after one thing that everybody cares about—the money,” Jordan said. “We have to look at the power of the purse if we’re ever going to get control of these agencies, who did this not just once, but multiple times,” he added.
In a post on Twitter Monday, Gaetz said the Durham report is an “absolutely DAMNING treatise on the weaponization” of federal agencies against Trump, adding Monday’s development “should be a clarion call for legislative reform.”
“In a proper world, Republicans and Democrats would be able to work together on this,” Gaetz said. “It wasn’t that long ago that the FBI was a right-wing organization, weaponized against civil rights leaders and others. And it was wrong then, and it’s wrong now.”
Trump also seized on the report in a series of posts on Truth Social this week, stating the investigative report indicates the federal government launched a coordinated effort to interfere with the 2016 election.
“The American Public was scammed, just as it is being scammed right now by those who don’t want to see GREATNESS for AMERICA!” Trump, currently a Republican candidate in the 2024 presidential race, wrote in one post on Truth Social.
In another post, Trump accused the FBI of being involved in a plot to overthrow his presidency. “TREASON!!!” and “THE CRIME OF THE CENTURY!” he wrote.
The Durham Report
Durham was tasked in 2019 with reviewing the 2016–2017 FBI investigation of alleged nefarious ties between candidate and later President Trump and Russia. These allegations went on to negatively taint the entire Trump presidency.
In October 2020, then-Attorney General William Barr appointed Durham a special counsel on this investigation, which, after three years, led to Monday’s report.
In his report, Durham concluded that “neither U.S. nor the Intelligence Community appears to have possessed any actual evidence of collusion in their holdings at the commencement of the Crossfire Hurricane investigation.” Crossfire Hurricane is the FBI’s codename for the agency’s investigation of the Trump campaign.
The FBI had “significant reliance on investigative leads provided or funded (directly or indirectly) by Trump’s political opponents,” the report reads.
Furthermore, Durham’s report found that agents “repeatedly disregarded important requirements” when they made surveillance requests on the Trump campaign—initiated under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act—in the absence of a “genuine belief” that there was a probable cause to investigate the target.
It added: “Our investigation also revealed that senior FBI personnel displayed a serious lack of analytical rigor towards the information that they received, especially information received from politically affiliated persons and entities.”
On these grounds, the special counsel wrote in his report that DOJ and the FBI “failed to uphold their important mission” of following the law in its investigation of the Trump campaign.
Durham recommended potential reforms to the agency in handling “politically charged allegations in the future.”
“As the more complete record now shows, there are specific areas of Crossfire Hurricane activity in which the FBI badly underperformed and failed, not only in its duties to the public, but also in preventing the severe reputational harm that has befallen the FBI as a consequence of Crossfire Hurricane,” Durham wrote in the report.
Epoch Times reporter Gary Bai contributed to this report.