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Opinion: Justice for Russiagate?

Sep 30, 2021


It is imperative that a federal probe into the alleged creation of the theory of Trump-Russia collusion, and the numerous investigations it spawned, move forward. The recent indictment of Hillary Clinton 2016 campaign lawyer Michael Sussmann has only made the probe more critical. Special Counsel John Durham alleges Sussmann lied to the FBI when he said he was not representing candidate Clinton when he fed it one of the original fabricated tales used to justify the Trump-Russia collusion narrative. The indictment claims Sussmann, other Clinton campaign officials, and their opposition researchers knew they were spinning a false narrative but proceeded anyway all in an effort to take down Donald Trump during the 2016 presidential campaign. That’s not all…a look at reports in conjunction with the indictment suggests another high-level official was involved. When you hear all the details, you’ll see why we can’t let this go.

Are the American people finally about to get some justice for Russiagate?

On September 16, the John Durham Special Counsel indicted only the second person in its investigation, former 2016 Clinton campaign lawyer Michael Sussmann.

The single count brought against him was straightforward: Sussmann knowingly lied to the executive branch of the federal government when, in September 2016, he went to the general counsel of the FBI and spun him what would turn out to be a bogus story of a secret communications channel between the Trump Organization and Russia’s Alfa-Bank, and claimed he was not telling the general counsel this on behalf of any client, when in fact he was.

Who were those two clients? Hillary Clinton’s campaign, and an unnamed tech executive conducting opposition research on then candidate Trump, in coordination with Sussmann, the Clinton campaign, and its law firm.

That single count is part of a 27-page indictment that legal folks call a “speaking indictment,” in that it lays out far broader details of the activities under scrutiny.

And those details suggest a far greater coordinated plot—a conspiracy by the Clinton campaign—to cook up a narrative of Trump-Russia collusion, spread it to the national security and law enforcement apparatus, and the media, all in a bid to damage his candidacy, and later undermine his presidency.

By going into the gory details of these efforts—who the Clinton campaign enlisted in its opposition research efforts, how and where the research was obtained, what the parties knew about its credibility when they determined to disseminate it to national security and law enforcement officials, and what the roles were of the various players to execute this whole operation—the indictment suggests more crimes were committed, and therefore that more indictments may well be coming.

For example, we find out revelations like these:

That unnamed tech executive who worked with Sussmann and the Clinton campaign directed employees at two companies he had ownership interests in “to search and analyze their holdings of public and non-public [read: private] internet data for derogatory information on Trump” – for dirt on Trump.

Those working with that unnamed tech executive also exploited data that had been provided to it by the executive branch of the U.S. government – and you’ll get this – as part of an effort to “protect U.S. networks from cyberattacks… to conduct research concerning Trump’s potential ties to Russia, including the Russian Bank-One”  – that is Alfa Bank – allegations that Sussman then fed to the FBI.

After Sussmann fed the FBI the bogus Alfa Bank story in September 2016, in November of that year the unnamed tech executive according to the indictment:

claimed to have been previously offered a position in the government in the event Hillary Clinton won the Presidency [so he’s going to be rewarded for his efforts maybe], stating in an email days after the U.S. Presidential election: “I was tentatively offered the top [cybersecurity] job by the Democrats when it looked like they’d win. I definitely would not take the job under Trump.”

He said this, knowing that what he was peddling was dubious. Emails in the indictment show the tech executive claiming, before the initial contact with the FBI, that the Trump-Alfa Bank server story was a “red herring.” 

One of his researchers told him in an August 2016 email, quote: 

“you do realize that we will have to expose every trick we have in our bag to even make a very weak association?… Sorry folks, but unless we get combine netflow and DNS traffic collected at critical points between suspect organizations, we cannot technically make any claims that would fly public scrutiny. The only thing that drive[s] us at this point is that we just do not like [Trump]. This will not fly in eyes of public scrutiny. Folks, I am afraid we have tunnel vision.”

Yet the tech executive and Sussmann kept going in developing the Alfa Bank story, in conjunction with the Clinton campaign.

This is just a fraction of what the indictment exposes. 

But the biggest bombshell of all may be this: One of the Clinton campaign officials who coordinated with Sussmann, quote “with regard to the data and written materials that SUSSMANN gave to the FBI and the media” was the Clinton campaign’s “foreign policy advisor.” 

Paul Sperry, my colleague at RealClearInvestigations, reports that that foreign policy advisor was Jake Sullivan—the current national security advisor of the United States. 

Based on Sperry’s investigation, Sullivan “figures prominently” in Durham’s grand jury investigation, and is – according to Sperry – “facing scrutiny, sources say, over potentially false statements he made about his involvement in the effort, which continued after the election and into 2017.”

Sperry’s sources say Sullivan was briefed on the development of the opposition-research materials tying Trump to Alfa Bank, and was aware of the participants in the project, which would seem consistent with the Sussmann indictment.

Yet Sullivan pleaded ignorance under oath in 2017 House testimony to a number of questions around the Clinton campaign’s opposition research efforts, and who was involved in them. This suggests that Sullivan may have perjured himself.

Amazingly, given all we know now, on the eve of the 2016 election, Jake Sullivan put out a statement under his name in response to a report from the publication Slate that appears to have been based on the Trump-Alfa-Bank research fed to it by Clinton campaign opposition research firm Fusion GPS, the firm behind the infamous Steele dossier—likely one of the unnamed entities referenced in the Sussmann indictment—blessing the whole bogus story.

“This secret hotline may be the key to unlocking the mystery of Trump’s ties to Russia,” Sullivan wrote in part.

Hillary Clinton retweeted that statement, writing “Computer scientists have apparently uncovered a covert server linking the Trump Organization to a Russian-based bank.”

So why is this indictment coming now?

Well, the statute of limitations on Sussmann’s offense was about to expire.

But also, the Durham special counsel itself may be about to expire. 

In fact, by the time you see this video, it may already have expired. 

The funding for it will lapse September 30th unless Attorney General Merrick Garland extends it.

If there’s any justice left in the Justice Department, he will.  He must.

Russiagate matters because at its core it’s the story of political operatives, the media, and the national security and law enforcement apparatus – and a prior president – colluding in a bid first to try and take down a candidate for the next presidency, and then, when it failed, to kneecap and ultimately destroy his presidency–invalidating the votes of millions of Americans, and subverting our constitutional order.

I have little confidence, even if the Durham Special Counsel is allowed to continue its work, that it will vigorously pursue anyone and everyone who committed crimes associated with Russiagate, and expose all of the nefarious acts to the public— that’s just not the way any of the investigations have panned out to date.

The only way to restore a modicum of confidence to the American people in the sanctity of our system however—to dissuade us from believing that there is a two-tier justice system that protects members of the political establishment in good standing, and seeks to destroy those who oppose it—is for it to do so.

The silence of our political class in defending the Durham special counsel, in contrast with the Mueller special counsel, is deafening.

I hope I’m overly pessimistic.  I hope that the American people finally get the justice we deserve.

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