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After Durham Report, Voters Seek Deep FBI Reforms: I&I/TIPP Poll

The Durham Report, which faulted the FBI for meddling in the 2016 and 2020 presidential elections by conducting a seriously flawed investigation of alleged “collusion” between the Donald Trump campaign and Russia, shocked many Americans. Now, disappointed and angry with apparent politicization of the FBI, Americans strongly support sweeping changes at the nation’s top law enforcement agency, the latest I&I/TIPP Poll shows.

As the more complete record now shows, there are specific areas of Crossfire Hurricane (the FBI’s covert investigation of the Trump campaign) 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,” Special Counsel John Durham wrote in his report, closing a four-year investigation.

In particular, the 306-page report was scathing in its condemnation of the FBI’s use of “raw, unanalyzed, and uncorroborated intelligence” in investigating allegations of Trump’s “collusion” with Russia in the 2016 presidential election.

 Did Durham’s powerful message of FBI misconduct get through to the American people?

In this month’s online I&I/TIPP Poll, taken from May 31 to June 2, we asked 1,358 respondents which of four possible actions to fix the FBI’s problems or reform the agency they would support.

The first choice offered was the mildest possible response — “The FBI should be left alone, it’s learned its lesson.” Overall, just 15% of Americans selected this “do nothing” response.

The second possible answer we provided, that the FBI should be “reformed by Congress to keep it from meddling in future elections,” received the highest total, at 39% overall.

The third and most draconian of all the possible actions was that the FBI should be “shut down and rebuilt from scratch, it can’t be trusted to do its job,” which got 24% of the overall tally.

“Not sure” won 22% support.

Looking at the numbers, it’s not hard to see that the FBI has a serious problem, with 63% of all Americans either wanting serious congressional reform of the agency or closing it down and rebuilding from the ground up.

It’s a serious indictment of the agency, even though the Durham report came up short in recommending any actual indictments of those responsible.

Moreover, the agreement that the FBI needs serious reform was strongly bipartisan. Among those seeking congressional reform of the FBI, Democrats gave 45% support, compared to Republicans’ 39% support and independents’ 32% support.

For the far tougher sanction of closing the FBI down and rebuilding from scratch, support among Democrats fell to 14%, compared to 37% for Republicans and 25% for independents.

The “do-nothing” option didn’t receive even 20% from any party or affiliation, though more Democrats (19%) would have done nothing to the FBI rather than shut them down entirely for a rebuild (14%).

Still, Americans overwhelmingly want changes made at the FBI, which clearly overstepped its bounds by dangerously meddling in the 2016 presidential election and, by extension, the 2020 one as well.

But what, if anything, will Congress do? After all, with no indictments emerging, any action is left to the House and Senate to take.

Right now, Congress is beginning its own investigation of sorts, with the House Judiciary Committee pressing the FBI on recent investigations, while also looking into a separate Justice Department investigation into Trump’s possession of classified material after his presidency.

Later this month, John Durham is scheduled to testify before both the House Intelligence Committee and the House Judiciary Committee, with FBI reforms likely on the agenda.

“Though the FBI says it’s already taken some steps to address the problems cited in the report, Durham did say it’s possible more reform could be needed,” the Associated Press reported. “One idea, he said, would be to provide additional scrutiny of politically sensitive investigations by identifying an official who would be responsible for challenging the steps taken in a probe.”

Another possibility: Reducing or even eliminating many of the FBI’s investigative powers, including eavesdropping on possible foreign spies and terrorists’ communications, under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

Yet, so far, few actual, concrete reforms have been put forward after Durham’s blockbuster report.

As for the FBI’s claims to have “changed,” that rings a bit hollow, a recent report from the House Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government suggests. It cites testimony from current and former FBI employees exposing “abuses and misconduct in the FBI,” including alleged “retaliatory conduct” against whistleblowers “after making protected disclosures about what they believed in good faith to be wrong conduct.”

Key Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee, meanwhile, are pushing “reforms at the FBI and at the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, which approves the secret warrants,” according to the Washington Examiner. “Their demands are at odds with the Biden administration, which wants to reauthorize FISA Section 702 powers without changes before it expires at the end of 2023.”

“We have been very clear on a bipartisan basis with the intelligence community and the FBI that there is no support in Congress for a clean reauthorization of 702,” House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Turner of Ohio told the Examiner. “Reforms are necessary. We will be taking up the issue of reforms . . . (which) will encompass both abuses that we are aware of and abuses that are now in the public domain as a result of disclosure and Durham.”

Even so, as the Durham report concluded, the FBI showed “markedly different” treatment of claims made against the Hillary Clinton campaign in 2016 and those made against Trump, suggesting at best political favoritism, at worst a rank and illegal attempt at influencing an election.

With the Senate and White House still controlled by the Democratic Party, it seems unlikely that major reforms will take place in the next year. Truly significant reforms will depend on the 2024 election, and even then only if Republicans control at least one branch of Congress and take back the White House.

As for “defund the FBI,” once talked about as a possibility? Not likely.

I&I/TIPP publishes timely, unique, and informative data each month on topics of public interest. TIPP’s reputation for polling excellence comes from being the most accurate pollster for the past five presidential elections.

Terry Jones is an editor of Issues & Insights. His four decades of journalism experience include serving as national issues editor, economics editor, and editorial page editor for Investor’s Business Daily.

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Terry Jones

Terry Jones was part of Investor's Business Daily from its inception in 1983, working in a variety of posts, including reporter, economics correspondent, National Issues editor and economics editor. Most recently, from 1996 to 2019, he served as associate editor of the newspaper and deputy editor and editor of IBD's Issues & Insights. His many media appearances include spots on the Larry Kudlow, Bill O’Reilly, Dennis Miller, Dennis Prager, Michael Medved and Glenn Beck shows. He also served as Free Markets columnist for Townhall Magazine, and as a weekly guest on PJTV’s The Front Page. He holds both bachelor's and master's degrees from UCLA, and is an Abraham Lincoln Fellow at the Claremont Institute

10 comments

  • I want Wray and many other traitors in the FBI prosecuted and imprisoned

  • Organizations follow the philosophies and guidance given by the top brass. No reform could possibly be successful without complete purging of the management all the way down.

  • Our worst fears were confirmed by the Durham Report. The FBI and CIA have no oversight, are seldom honest, and our elected officials deeply fear them.

    The USA doesn’t seem like a Democratic Republic to me. It seems a lot more like your typical South American military dictatorship.

  • The elephant in the room is the extent of the collusion. Major newspapers and cable news media were in on it, as were the Democrats. And many in Obama’s administration were unmasking to what end?

    It certainly wasn’t a home grown FBI going rogue. I don’t think Durham had the authority to look at Congress, Soros and the DNC involvement.

  • An excellent reform would be to do away with defined benefit pensions. Consider the following: an agent or supervisor has knowledge of wrong doing and believes he’she should do something about it. Then they begin thinking that, here they are at 54 years old facing forced retirement at 57 and a pension that can be taken away. Do they still blow the whistle? Better a defined contribution plan that is the agent’s property that can’t be taken away. Defined benefit pensions that can be stolen from the employee I believe are the reason that so few of the rank and file have bitched about the politicization of headquarters. Other great reforms would be removing counter espionage from the FBI and cutting the list of Federal “Crimes” about 90%, a good bit of what the Feds are doing is actually the business of the states.

  • There are a whole host of federal agencies that need to be reformed at least, but preferably disbanded. I knw that FISA nwas ripe for abuse the day that it was passed in 1978. It needs to be repealed.

  • 1. Remove All ‘Arrest Powers’ from the FBI….it is the Fed. Bur. of Investigation–not Arrest.
    2. No FBI offices in Wa DC
    3. FBI will have Head Office in each State. Some States will have subordinate offices in different areas, no more than three.
    4. FBI shall co-ordinate with the State Law Enforcement organizations.
    5. Co-ordination of investigations among differing States will be over seen for constitutionality by a Federal Appeals Court Judge in the States involved.
    6. Any agent determined to have violated constitutional protections will be immediately fired, and will forfeit their pension, and all benefits.

    • So many Lefties laughing, for now. Why not make every US citizen satsfied with their all-powerful law enforcement agency?

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