In the wake of the Durham report’s release, Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) is taking a bold stance in leading demands for the FBI’s reform. Gaetz argues that not only should his fellow conservatives support serious reform, but Democrats too, given the agency’s history of alleged partisanship.
The Durham report, released Monday after a four-year-long investigation, scrutinized the FBI’s actions surrounding claims of collusion between President Donald Trump and Russia during the 2016 election. It concluded that the FBI relied heavily on uncorroborated intelligence, leading to insufficient grounds to initiate the probe. The 300-page document has sparked controversy, with Gaetz suggesting that the fallout should include FBI agents’ indictments.
The Durham report is an absolutely DAMNING treatise on the weaponization of the FBI against President Trump.
This should be a clarion call for legislative reform. We need to defund and deauthorize government entities that are converted from the just cause of defending our nation… pic.twitter.com/peaeMcVr6q
— Rep. Matt Gaetz (@RepMattGaetz) May 16, 2023
While the report led to only one indictment against a lawyer who deceived a federal court, Gaetz stated, “This report is an insufficient consequence for the malfeasance and corruption that we have seen here.” The lawmaker further emphasized his point by arguing that if the roles were reversed, and this had been an operation favoring a Republican candidate, the consequences would have been more severe.
Gaetz’s criticisms of the FBI extend beyond the agency’s conduct during the 2016 election. He argues that the FBI has been “weaponized” against causes on both sides of the political spectrum. Gaetz contends, “It wasn’t all 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.”
The Florida representative has proposed a series of reforms, including defunding the FBI, abolishing secret FISA courts, and rescinding the $325 million earmarked by former Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) for a new FBI headquarters in the D.C. area. Gaetz believes these measures will protect people’s civil liberties from being infringed by the agency.
The sentiment for FBI reform is not exclusive to Gaetz. Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), chair of the House Judiciary Committee, echoes Gaetz’s concerns, calling out a “double standard” between how Republicans and Democrats are treated. Jordan, too, suggests the FBI’s funding should be reduced and has invited Durham to testify before his committee.
In response to the Durham report and ensuing criticism, the FBI issued a statement acknowledging past errors and asserting that it has since implemented corrective actions. The agency stated, “Had those reforms been in place in 2016, the missteps identified in the report could have been prevented.”
However, these assurances fall short for many conservatives like Gaetz and Jordan. They see the report as evidence of a need for systemic change within the FBI, a call for action that transcends party lines. Whether this issue will gain bipartisan support remains to be seen. Regardless, the Durham report has reignited a crucial conversation around the role and conduct of one of the nation’s most powerful law enforcement agencies.