What a surprise: The media-Democrat complex that, for years, attempted to convince the country that a sitting US president was a clandestine agent of Russia is now spinning wildly, trying to persuade Americans that its politicized suspicions actually amounted to compelling evidence of Donald Trump’s “collusion” with Moscow.
That is the fallout from special counsel John Durham’s indictment of Democratic attorney Michael Sussmann, and of the related reports that the prosecutor has subpoenaed additional information from Sussmann’s former firm Perkins Coie, the lawyers for the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee.
Durham indicted Sussmann for lying to the FBI about whom he was working for (he pleaded not guilty). In peddling flimsy evidence that servers at a Russian bank proved a Kremlin communications back channel to Trump, Sussmann, a former DOJ lawyer, allegedly claimed not to be working for anyone — just a good citizen!
In reality, he was working for tech entrepreneur Rodney Joffe, who was angling for a job in the anticipated Hillary Clinton administration. Sussmann was also logging his time to Perkins Coie’s Clinton campaign client account.
More intriguing than the narrow charge is the indictment’s 27-page description of the context. Durham’s theory appears to be that the Trump-Russia collusion narrative was essentially manufactured by the Clinton campaign. To produce dirt on Trump, the campaign relied on its Perkins Coie lawyers, obviously figuring their consultations would remain concealed under the attorney-client privilege.
Perkins Coie, in turn, retained rabidly anti-Trump researchers at Glenn Simpson’s Fusion GPS, which recruited Christopher Steele, a rabidly anti-Trump former British spy. It seems not to have mattered to Camp Clinton whether the Trump dirt was concocted rather than uncovered.
Durham’s critics have incoherently argued both that his years of investigation with few charges show there is nothing there, and that he is a partisan conducting a witch hunt (in which case one wonders why there have been so few charges). In point of fact, Durham is a well-regarded prosecutor who has conducted sensitive special investigations for administrations of both parties, and who has a reputation for moving meticulously — which means he prioritizes accuracy over speed.
Typical of Durham, he is proceeding cautiously because having an overarching theory does not necessarily mean he has an overarching crime.
A political dirty trick is not necessarily an actionable criminal conspiracy. It is one thing to show that self-interested political operatives found ways to peddle to all-too-willing investigators extravagant suspicions about Trump corruption that they hoped were true. It’s quite another thing to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that they were knowingly funneling false information that they realized the FBI would use in court proceedings.
Consequently, the collusion propagandists are morphing into propaganda apologists, insisting that Camp Clinton operatives had good-faith reasons — even patriotic reasons — for the innuendo-laced case they contrived against Mrs. Clinton’s political opponent. Obviously, Durham is still investigating and is not yet ready to draw firm conclusions.
For now, two things are worth noting:
First, remember that at the time Perkins Coie tried to sell the FBI on an Alfa Bank angle of Trump-Russia, the bureau was simultaneously pressing the absurd Steele dossier (produced for the Clinton campaign by Fusion GPS via Perkins Coie) on the FISA court, in order to get authorization to spy on a former Trump campaign adviser. The bureau concluded the Alfa Bank allegation was meritless. That is, at a time when they were so desperate they were willing to rely on the frivolous Steele claims, they nevertheless turned their noses up at the Alfa Bank story.
Second, Durham is not an ordinary prosecutor but a special counsel appointed by the Justice Department. Ordinary prosecutors either file indictments or quietly close investigations without charges. Special counsels write lengthy reports describing their findings in detail, including evidence indicative of corruption and abuse of power that may not qualify for prosecution under the strictures of the penal law.
Durham may have some more indictments left to bring. As for a comprehensive explanation of what happened in Russiagate, though, we will probably have to wait for his final report . . . assuming the Biden Justice Department allows it to be made public.
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