Left: Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, speaks during a House Select Subcommittee hearing on the Coronavirus pandemic investigation of the origins of COVID-19, Tuesday, April 18, 2023, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta). Right: Special counsel John Durham, the prosecutor appointed to investigate potential government wrongdoing in the early days of the Trump-Russia probe, leaves federal court in Washington, Monday, May 16, 2022. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

If you loved “John Durham: The Report”—and to MAGA Republicans, it’s as sacred as Two Corinthians—here comes “Jim Jordan and the Revenge Multiverse.” It stars House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan, the jacketless Republican, who also chairs a new subcommittee on the weaponization of government, i.e., those lefties at the FBI and CIA out to take down Donald Trump. Both producers need to call their agents.  

Durham used to be somebody, the US attorney from Connecticut who played a part in putting Boston mobster Whitey Bulger away and in sending a mayor and two state officials, including the Constitution State’s governor, to prison. When Attorney General William Barr wanted to pursue the supposedly nefarious beginnings of the Trump investigation, he turned to the 73-year-old Dunham, a former VISTA volunteer with a severe beard and a grim countenance—Ken Starr but without the charm. 

Prosecutors from outside Main Justice are imported to lend, in perception and in fact, independence from the building’s senior leadership. (See Patrick Fitzgerald, George W. Bush’s US Attorney in Chicago, who was selected to pursue the CIA leak case and wound up terrorizing the administration and convicting Dick Cheney’s right-hand man, I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby.) But such independence was lost when former Attorney General William Barr put no room between himself and Durham. The pair jetted off to Europe like two lawyers in a buddy movie, looking for evidence that would bolster Barr’s (and Trump’s) case that the initial FBI investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election was opened on “the thinnest of suspicions” (Barr) and constituted the “crime of the century” (Trump). Never mind that the evidence of Russian efforts to bolster the reality TV star’s presidential bid was overwhelming, from the array of indictments that a real special counsel, Robert Mueller, won to the fact that Trump’s son, Don, Jr., met with Russian government agents to Trump’s very pleading with Moscow to break into Hillary Clinton’s emails. 

Unlike Mueller or Fitzgerald, the Barr-Durham duo got nothing. Their world tour did not unearth a sleeper cell of FBI liberals with NPR tote bags hounding a defenseless Trump. The bureau remains a bastion of conservative white males, heavy on the nice Fordham grads with bad haircuts I grew up with. The bureau’s former director James Comey violated Justice Department protocol by giving a rambling talk when he decided in 2016 not to recommend an indictment of the former Secretary of State for her private emails. He had no problem dooming her campaign by announcing days before the 2016 election that the agency was reopening its investigation into her server, violating countless DOJ protocols. Most FBI agents do their job well and with professionalism—those who don’t seem more likely to come from the right. A supervisory agent who retired in 2017 was recently indicted for participating in the January 6 insurrection, shouting “kill ‘em” and scuffling with other law enforcement officers in his effort to upend the constitution he had solemnly sworn to uphold. This does not sound like someone you’d meet at the Park Slope Food Coop. 

All Barr and Durham found in Rome besides a lovely Barolo were suspicions by Italian officials that Trump was involved in serious financial crimes. That wasn’t what they came for. It went straight to Durham’s portfolio to die.  

It will take a lot for Jordan to give Durham’s story a happy ending by adding a House GOP hearing to a dud of a report. Immediately after Durham’s issued his report on May 15, Jordan, the former assistant Ohio State wrestling coach who somehow missed the sexual harassment of dozens of players by the team physician, was bellowing from the dais that Durham found “no evidence whatsoever” to justify an investigation into Trump. The Javert-like persecution of Dear Donald, Jordan said, was based on “a dossier from the Clinton campaign.” That would be the Steele Dossier, a collection of opposition research first commissioned by Republicans trying to block Trump’s nomination later used by Democrats. But take a sip of coffee every time Jordan mentions it, and you’ll be up all night. The dossier was not the basis for the probe into Trump. There was myriad other evidence that Comey unearthed. Coach Jim not only thinks he has the FBI in a headlock and thinks he’s going to get the whole Biden Clan to tap out—not just Hunter but Joe pocketing a few dollars here and there. His trip to New York to embarrass Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg for indicting Trump over hush money to Stormy Daniels ended up embarrassing the Ohioan because the crime rate in his district’s largest city, Mansfield, is higher than that in Bragg’s New York City. Jordan is promising more whistleblowers this week. Something tells me it’s not Daniel Ellsberg-level revelations. 

Jordan has asked Durham to testify this week, but the special counsel will have to chew the scenery to dig out of his hole. At the outset of his assignment as special counsel, he was upstaged by Inspector General Michael Horowitz, who found that an altered email was used in a FISA warrant to surveil Carter Page, an energy analyst moonlighting as a Trump campaign worker. Horowitz recommended stricter guidelines for future FISA applications, and FBI Director Christopher Wray complied. End of story. 

Nor is there glory in Durham’s record in court as special counsel: two indictments, two trials, two acquittals. He never contradicted Horowitz’s factual findings. Yet another report compiled by a Republican no less, Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Marco Rubio, concluded that the Mueller investigation was justified.  

Trump built the “Russia, Russia, Russia” case against himself. He wanted to build a tower there. He declared that he trusted Vladimir Putin more than his own government. He made Paul Manafort his campaign chairman. He sought no fee and had longstanding ties to people affiliated with Russian intelligence services that Rubio called “a grave counterintelligence threat.” Manafort would remove a plank supporting Ukraine from the 2016 GOP platform. Trump’s first national security adviser lied about his contacts with Russians and then pleaded guilty. Don Jr., Jared Kushner, and Manafort met with a Russian lawyer promising dirt on Hillary, later saying it was about adoptions. Trump declared that he trusted Vladimir Putin more than his government. Memorably, there was Trump’s plea, “Russia, if you’re listening, please help me find the 30,000 emails that are missing.” 

There’s a real showstopper in the wings, the woman who idolized John Durham until she didn’t. Nora Dannehy served as Durham’s trusted lieutenant for years in Hartford and came to Washington at his behest. Quiet almost to a fault, except in the courtroom, where she was a legend, Dannehy was the prosecutor who took down corrupt politicians in the state but gave Durham all the credit. Sadly for the team, a year in, Dannehy saw that Durham had withered under Barr’s sway. She dared to ask why he didn’t tell Barr to stop talking about the inquiry publicly, on Fox suggesting some officials might be prosecuted, knowing there were no charges that would hold up in court. In 2020, Dannehy learned that Durham had secretly asked lawyers on staff to draft an interim report Barr wanted. She strongly objected to it being so close to the election. The two argued, according to The Hartford Courant, and after sending her colleagues a letter outlining serious problems with the office, Durham’s longtime confidant walked out the door. Three other prosecutors would follow.  

In the last act, Durham conceded that his probe had found no sign of “foreign government activity” and that the CIA had “stayed in its lane.” He went out two and one in stark contrast to Mueller’s 37 (34 individuals and three Russian businesses.) Those indictments led to seven guilty pleas and five people sentenced to prison. 

Jordan’s bumptious, raucous, slapdash hearings are a far cry from the classic Senate hearings of 1975 conducted by the select committee chaired by Frank Church, an Idaho Democrat. The panel plumbed covert operations by the intelligence community, including the shockers that the US Army was spying on Americans and the CIA had tried to assassinate foreign officials, including Cuba’s Fidel Castro. The FBI infiltrated “subversive” organizations, from civil rights to environmental to antiwar, to discredit them. When not planning assassinations, the CIA recruited journalists to sprinkle their stories with propaganda. The NSA targeted committee members and, with the help of telecommunication companies, tapped their phones. 

What should be of interest to Jordan is how Church, a pious Mormon, conducted himself. The chair and presidential aspirant was so inclusive that his party criticized him. He shared everything with his vice chair, Republican Senator John Tower, including the gavel. Every member signed the 14 reports that the committee issued over 16 months.  

It might be harder for Congress’s best-known wrestler since Denny Hastert to share power, especially in a high-profile case like the Durham report. In Jordan’s fiefdom, the more partisanship, the better. He provides all subpoenaed information to the majority and pointedly keeps it from the minority, something not done before. If he’d only start sharing, that would be a bombshell.  

Our ideas can save democracy... But we need your help! Donate Now!

Follow Margaret on Twitter @carlsonmargaret. Margaret Carlson is a columnist at The Daily Beast.