Special Counsel John Durham Blows His Measly Load Trying To Make Serverghazi Happen Again
For years the wingers have promised special counsel John Durham was preparing to rain down hell on the Deep State and do LOCK HER UPS to Hillary Clinton and all the dastardly Democrats in DC. In 2019, Attorney General Bill Barr tasked the former US Attorney for Connecticut with cobbling together evidence of a Justice Department conspiracy to frame Donald Trump for cahootsing with Putin to steal the election. But aside from one conviction of a low-level DOJ attorney for falsifying an email related to Season 1 dipshit Carter Page, it's been crickets.
Until yesterday when John Durham did the home team proud by bringin' it to those Deep State conspirators for their evil attempt to bring down saintly Donald Trump by making him look like he was in bed with Mother Russia.
Just kidding! Durham indicted an outside lawyer on a single count of lying to the FBI. PFFFFFFFT.
Yesterday the special counsel announced the culmination of three years of work: one measly charge against attorney Michael Sussman for failing to disclose that he was working for the Clinton campaign and the DNC when he met with FBI general counsel James Baker to hand over information about the "Alfa Bank server" in Trump Tower that was mysteriously pinging back and forth with a server in Russia. As if anyone in DC, down to the busboys at Busboys and Poets, is unaware that Sussman's former law firm Perkins Coie is associated with major Democratic causes.
Indeed, as Politico notes, Reps. Mark Meadows and Jim Jordan openly sneered at the idea that Sussman's partisan bona fides could have escaped Baker's notice when he appeared before the House Judiciary and Oversight Committees in October 2018.
"Did you know when he was giving this information did you know he was working for — that he did extensive work for the DNC and the Clinton campaign?" Jordan demanded.
"I am not sure what I knew about that at the time," Baker replied.
"You knew what his career was," Meadows hammered. "And you knew generally speaking that he had some involvement with the Democratic National Committee." (He slipped that time and said "Democratic." Mostly Meadows refers to it as the "Democrat National Committee," because he's a dick.)
And Baker conceded that he did, because, hello, DC ain't that big.
While Baker and Jordan were pursuing a theory that Baker was part of a Deep State Democrat conspiracy with Sussman to frame poor, innocent Donald Trump, Durham has taken the opposite position. In the special counsel's telling, Sussman pulled one over on Baker by hiding the fact that his real client was the Clinton campaign.
Here's how Durham makes a case that Sussman's alleged misrepresentation was actually material — i.e., important enough to affect how the FBI conducted its business — in the indictment:
Had SUSSMAN truthfully disclosed that he was representing specific clients, it might have prompted FBI General Counsel to ask SUSSMAN for the identity of such clients, which, in turn, might have prompted further questions. In addition, absent SUSSMAN's false statement, the FBI might have taken additional or more incremental steps before opening and/or closing an investigation. The FBI also might have allocated its resources differently, or more efficiently, and uncovered more complete information about the reliability and provenance of the purported data at issue.
Thats a lot of "mights." Particularly since Baker says that's not how it went down at all.
Baker testified that he was pretty sure Sussman said he was coming forth as a private citizen, although he wasn't entirely certain about that. But even if Sussman had said, "Here's a little something from Hillary Clinton, Fusion GPS, and the DNC," it wouldn't have made any difference to the way the FBI treated the information.
DEM HOUSE LAWYER: So regardless of not being the most typical route for evidence besides the FBI, when the evidence is provided to you, does the FBI have a process to evaluate the credibility of the evidence, to vet it as it would any other piece of evidence coming to the FBI?
DEM HOUSE LAWYER: Okay. So whatever evidence was provided to you would have been evaluated by the same individuals the FBI as through whatever typical challenges the FBI gets its evidence?
BAKER: Yes. Yes.
Indeed, Baker said that he wanted to know as little as possible about Sussman's allegations.
"I mean, so I was uncomfortable with being in the position of having too much factual information conveyed to me, because I'm not an agent. And so I wanted to get this — get the information into the hands of the agents as quickly as possible and let them deal with it," Baker testified. "If they wanted to go interview Sussmann and ask him all those kind of questions, fine with me."
In fact, the only contemporaneous written notes of the meeting, taken by Bill Priestap, assistant director of the Counterintelligence Division, make it clear that everyone involved was well aware of Sussman's connections to Clinton and the DNC.
Not for nothing, but good luck getting this memo — in which Priestap records what Baker says he thinks Sussman said — admitted at trial. Hearsay evidence may be acceptable in a grand jury, but it's not gonna play in an IRL court of law.
Astute observers will note that the FBI just dropped charges against Michael Flynn because his lies to the FBI were not "material," according to Bill Barr. There's also the niggling detail that Barr set up a special intake process at the Justice Department for Rudy Giuliani's insane book reports about Joe Biden's supposedly nefarious dealings in Ukraine. But that was very cool and very legal, unlike what Sussman did, okay?
And if Durham's big plan is to get Sussman to flip on the Deep State, he appears to have miscalculated.
"The special counsel appears to be using this indictment to advance a conspiracy theory he has chosen not to actually charge," Mr. Sussmann's lawyers said in a statement reported by the Wall Street Journal. "This case represents the opposite of everything the Department of Justice is supposed to stand for. Mr. Sussmann will fight this baseless and politically-inspired prosecution."
In summary and in conclusion, they're trying to make Serverghazi happen again. It's not going to happen.
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Liz Dye lives in Baltimore with her wonderful husband and a houseful of teenagers. When she isn't being mad about a thing on the internet, she's hiding in plain sight in the carpool line. She's the one wearing yoga pants glaring at her phone.