Below is a slightly expanded version of me Columns on the hill About Sussman’s trial and what was revealed about the role of the Federal Bureau of Investigation in the Russian collusion investigation. It also examines whether Special Inspector John Durham will be allowed to write the same kind of public report that ended Müller’s investigation.
Here is the column:
With the jury at the trial of Michael Sussman, a former Clinton campaign adviser in 2016, ordinary people appeared on cable news and assessed the chances of a conviction. Despite the seemingly conclusive evidence against Sassman, The composition of the jury seems very desirable for the defense.
However, a sentence seems to need little consideration. This concerns the Department of Justice and especially the FBI. The trial confirmed what many have long argued about how senior officials eagerly accepted any Russian collusion allegations about Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign. Special Investigator John Durham’s investigation, which led to Sussman’s trial, is a department and office indictment that once again seemed blind when the Hillary Clinton campaign played their role.
Despite the rulings of the judge of the case Apply strict restrictions Given the breadth of the trial evidence, Durham’s case still reveals new information about how the Russian conspiracy theory infiltrated the FBI and the media through the Clinton campaign. Perhaps the most ironic moment was when the defense team confirmed Sussman Clinton as personally endorsing the campaign’s attempt to spread a baseless allegation that the Trump administration had a secret channel to the Kremlin through Russia’s Alfa Bank.
This claim was a true conspiracy theory of unsupported colored hats. Durham had previously revealed how researchers tasked with defending the claim feared that the claim would not be supported enough to be ridiculed. Based on Sassman’s indictment, they argued that anyone familiar with Internet traffic analysis.It made several holesIn theory. “Let ‘s assume again that they’re not smart enough to reject our’ best case scenario, ‘” one researcher warned. . »
However, the Clinton campaign did not appear to be remotely concerned about the minimal research that might reveal the lack of evidence. Researchers were told not to worry about creating one.Very useful narrative“
During the trial, Clinton’s lawyer campaigned Mark Elias And campaign manager Robbie Mook Both said the campaign trusted the media to advance the story. They were right: Slate quickly ran it and then Clinton and one of her aides, Jake Sullivan (now Biden’s national security adviser)Issued statements warning of the claim as if it were news to them.
The Clinton campaign similarly broke the notorious Steel case after secretly helping to fund it. Both the Steel case and Alfa Bank’s claim were sent to friends at the FBI.
No matter what the jury decides about Sussman, the combined background of the Steel case and Alfa Bank’s claim makes the FBI look like an innocent accomplice.
For example, as a witness at Sussman’s trial, James Baker, the FBI’s attorney general, was asked why it took so long to provide the most destructive evidence – a text message in which Sussman said he represented no One of the customers is not in pressuring them. Alfa Bank claims to FBI officials. Baker explained that Sussman was his friend and told the prosecutor, “This is not my investigation. “This is your research.”
In other words, there was no reason for the Department of Justice to expect Baker, a former senior attorney, to assist in filing a case against Sasman. When Baker left the Department of Justice, he did not help optics Joined the Brookings Institution, institution, Liberal think tank Related to key figures who made the initial allegations of Russian collusion. To some, it seemed not just friends, but “friends with benefits.”
Later, Joe Pintka, the FBI’s investigator on Trump and Russia, sent a note to FBI Special Envoy Curtis Hyde:People on the seventh floor have been fired as administrators for this serverPintka then texted Hayedeh, “Guys, did you open a case? Stretch out your hand and put the tool in?”
This description of the apparent enthusiasm of James Comey, the then director of AFBI, and others, only exacerbates concerns about the bureaucracy’s alleged bias toward Trump’s investigation. It was this enthusiasm that led the FBI to pursue Russian investigations for years despite it US intelligence has warned The steel case contained not only unsubstantiated allegations but also possible Russian misinformation.
When FSI investigators were told of Sussman’s allegations, observers told them that the allegation came from the Department of Justice, not Sussman. However, even with this framework, investigators realized that Clinton campaign researchers were afraid of it – in Baker’s words, “there is nothing there.”
However, the FBI continued to pursue other allegations of Russian collusion. This effort leads to a Conviction of Kevin Clinsmith, FBI lawyer Because of false statements by changing key evidence to obtain covert espionage orders against Carter Page, Trump’s colleague. Another trial witness, Hyde FBI, Accepted He is being questioned on charges of concealing evidence that contradicts the Russian investigation hypothesis.
Of course, another special investigator, Robert Mueller, had never before found a basis for criminal charges related to Russian collusion. But what is even more remarkable now is how much of this information about the “troubled” FBI officials and the role of the Clinton campaign mysteriously escaped Müller and his team.
The question now is whether Durham is given a similar opportunity to Müller to write a report on his findings. All of these revelations came despite the court’s restrictions on Durham. Obviously, Durham is looking into more information about how to package and send collusion allegations to avid friends in the media and the FBI.
Before Müller dropped any criminal charges against Russia, congressional Democrats insisted he should not just report but publish an unedited report, including the usually confidential jury.
There is no such color and cry for a report that Durham has not edited.
If Durham does not publish such a report, many true stories may be buried behind the Russian collusion scandal. In fact, even if congressional control is handed over to Republicans in November, the Department of Justice can still refuse to provide intelligence. This is exactly what many in Washington want to see happen.
However, after a brief overview of Sassman’s prosecution of undisclosed evidence, people deserve to have a full periodic report on how the scandals were conceived and fabricated among “friends.”
Jonathan Torley is Professor of Shapiro Public Interest Law at George Washington University. Follow him on Twitter @JonathanTurley.