It's time to break the news.The Messenger's slogan

Durham Report Scores 4.4 On The Messenger Scale 

The Messenger's new ratings system helps readers decipher the daily influx of news — starting with Monday's Durham report.


The Messenger Scale measures the magnitude of any singular news event, just as the Richter scale does for earthquakes. It assigns a simple 1-10 number based on input from our panel of more than 75 "news seismologists" from the worlds of politics, policy, law, history, academia and media. They come from across the entire political spectrum in order to provide readers with a balanced response to major news events.

(You can read more about The Messenger Scale by going here.)

A scale in shades of green, yellow and red reads 4.4.
The Messenger

Our expert panel gave Special Council John Durham’s report examining the FBI’s Trump-Russia investigation a 4.4 out of 10. 

What happened?

Justice Department special counsel John Durham concluded in a report made public Monday that the FBI never should have launched a full investigation into alleged connections between Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign and Russia. Durham’s report accused the FBI of having a “lack of analytical rigor” and using "uncorroborated intelligence.” 

The context:

Durham’s report is the result of a four-year investigation into the FBI’s handling of potential Trump-Russia ties. During his investigation, Durham indicted three people, two of whom were found not guilty in jury trials and one of whom received 12 months probation and community service. While Durham was unsparing in his criticism of the FBI’s handling of the Trump-Russia investigation, his new report did not recommend any further indictments or major overhauls to how the FBI conducts investigations.

What are the experts saying?

Measured for overall importance, this report is pretty low on the scale. The years that Dunham spent investigating the FBI investigation into Trump’s possible coordination with Russia generated a big ‘Nothing Burger.’ His two criminal prosecutions fizzled. There appears to be nothing new in his report beyond what the Justice Department/FBI inspector general found several years ago.

Lawyer and former Watergate investigator Philip Allen Lacovara

While the report’s findings are no surprise, the reality is that the Trump-Russia Probe continues to have longstanding ramifications socially, politically and geographically. These findings and the news cycle to follow are further evidence that the Probe, which was a crock of shit, could be a talking point into November 2024.

2016 Trump campaign advisor Sam Nunberg

It firmly establishes what we have suspected for years—senior law enforcement and intelligence officials in President Obama’s administration were politically biased against candidate (and then-president) Trump and used cooked-up evidence manufactured by Hillary Clinton’s campaign to kneecap his presidency […] it should compel major reforms at the FBI and in the Intelligence Community by the next conservative president.

Heritage Foundation fellow and former Trump White House assistant special counsel Steven Groves

It's not a zero in that it fully exonerates everyone involved in Crossfire Hurricane with no charges brought [...] But it's really just a boring op-ed about how Durham feels, and it contradicts the DoJ Inspector General Findings from 2019, and the Senate Intel (republican led) report.

Allison Gill, host of the podcast Mueller, She Wrote

Russia investigations gets the snooze button again….we don’t like Putin but more than tired of the back and forth….really….bring back the Bill Clinton passport controversy

Former Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.)

What’s next?

Though Durham didn’t indicate he’ll be bringing any indictments, we may hear more from him in the coming days. House Judiciary Chairman Jim Jordan said Monday he’s asked Durham to testify before Congress next week.

To compare:

Our expert panel rated last week’s jury verdict finding that Trump had sexually abused and defamed E. Jean Carroll a 6.1 out of 10.

They gave House Oversight Chairman James Comer’s recent report on Biden family bank records a 3.8 out of 10. The report found Biden members have been paid millions of dollars by foreign entities over the years but did not link any of the payments to President Joe Biden.

The experts rated Trump’s comment last week that he was “inclined to pardon” many people convicted of federal offenses after the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol a 6.5 out of 10.

Our ‘news seismologists’: Allan Lichtman, Allison Gill, Andrew McCarthy, Andrew Weissmann, Anthony Coley, Arun Chaudhary, Barbara Perry, Becky Bond, Bill Jeffress,  Brendan Buck, Carol Browner, Carolyn Maloney, Charlie Cook, Chris Shays, Dan Schnur, David Cay Johnston, David Litt, David Pepper, David Tamasi, David Weinstein, Edwin Chen, Eric Wilson, Fred Upton, Gilda Daniels, Gordon Sondland, Gwenda Blair, Isaac Saul, Javed Ali, Jay Hakes, Jeff Roe, Jeff Smith, Jenna Lowenstein, Jennifer Mercieca, Jesse Ferguson, Jim Messina, Joe Trippi, John Q. Barrett, John Dean, John Fleming, Julie Myers Wood, Kalee Kreider, Ken Spain, Lilliana Mason, Mark Zaid, Mary Bono, Matthew Rhodes-Purdy, Michael Czin, Michael Podhorzer, Michael Toner, Michael Vachon, Mindy Finn, Noah Bookbinder, Patrick Cotter, Patti Solis Doyle, Paul Rosenzweig, Philip Allen Lacovara, PJ Crowley, Randall Samborn, Reed Galen, Rick Boucher, Rick Wilson, Robert Luskin, Rodell Mollineau, Sam Martin, Sam Nunberg, Sarah Longwell, Sean Spicer, Shannon O’Brien, Stephen Moore, Steven Groves, Susan Liebell, Ty Cobb, William Jeffress.

*The following individuals have all agreed to receive and share responses to this question: On a scale of 1-10, how much do you think this event matters?

Respondents for this survey are in bold.

Start your day with the biggest stories and exclusive reporting from The Messenger Morning, our weekday newsletter.
By signing up, you agree to our privacy policy and terms of use.
Sign Up.