On Tuesday, Day 7 of the Michael Sussmann trial, FBI agent Curtis Heide shed light on how Bureau officials got the idea that Sussmann’s “evidence” about the phony Alfa Bank scandal came from the ‘Justice’ Department.
He said it was his own fault.
In a document drafted the day of Sussmann’s visit by Heide and fellow agent Allison Sands, he said “the DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE provided the FBI with a white paper that was produced by an anonymous third party.” This document served as confirmation that an investigation had been opened into the later-debunked allegation.
Heide said the DOJ reference was “a mistake in our paperwork.”
Quite a mistake. When asked by the prosecution how it could’ve been made, Heide said, “I honestly don’t know.”
Recall Monday’s testimony, in which another agent, Ryan Gaynor, testified that the Bureau was shielding Sussmann’s identity from investigating agents, in a procedure called “close hold.” Though this is often considered appropriate, field investigators for this case were frustrated that they couldn’t know the identity. So for all they knew, it WAS the Department of ‘Justice’ that delivered the goods, not just some “anonymous third party,” and such a misinterpretation surely influenced the way they handled the evidence.
Text messages introduced by the prosecution underscore this problem. “We really want to interview the source of all this information,” Heide wrote to Gaynor on October 3. “Any way we can track down who the guy is and how we’re getting this information?”
There wasn’t. They were flying blind. Gaynor told him only that headquarters was looking at it.
Heide happens to be the subject of an internal FBI “investigative inquiry” for allegedly “not identifying exculpatory information as it pertained to one of the Crossfire Hurricane investigations.” His case is still pending. The allegation involves classified information that was left off a FISA application for a warrant to spy. When asked by the prosecution on Tuesday if he’d intentionally withheld such evidence from the Crossfire Hurricane team, he denied that.
Recall that FBI official Kevin Clinesmith was charged and pleaded guilty to altering a document used in the FISA application for a surveillance warrant on Carter Page. We don’t know if the allegation against Heide applies to the same application.
There’s something important to note in the earlier testimony given by Robby Mook, about Hillary personally green-lighting the plan to break the unverified Alfa Bank story in the media. Jim Trusty, a former ‘Justice’ Department official who’s now a DC lawyer, explained to the NEW YORK POST that this fits with other testimony from Mook and Marc Elias saying they were unaware Sussmann planned to also take it to the FBI. Trusty calls this strategy “Protect the Queen.” As in, Queen Hillary. It goes like this:
First, as we’ve said, taking phony evidence to the FBI to gin up an investigation of a political opponent –- or of anyone –- is very serious. It’s a crime, whereas taking it to the media might just be called “political dirty tricks,” completely unethical but not necessarily leading to a perp-walk. Hillary’s accomplices need to keep her out of jail. So by admitting she knew they leaked to the MEDIA, as opposed to the FBI, they’ve gone just to the line, admitting what they have to, but stopping there.
Trusty said Mook and Elias have suggested Hillary was “shocked, shocked by Sussmann going to the FBI.”
We don’t buy it. It makes no sense for Sussmann to GO BEHIND HER BACK to the FBI and then bill her for the meeting!
Trusty put it similarly: “Legal representation simply does not work that way. You don’t ‘free-lance’ a visit to the FBI while billing your client for the time.”
So Mook and Elias can stick to their untenable story and pretend she wasn’t aware, but we know she was. Still, this tenuous testimony might work, especially if Sussmann’s case is being heard by a custom-made equivalent of the O.J. jury. All they need is one excuse, however feeble, to let him off. Heck, maybe billing Hillary was just a mistake in the paperwork. Yeah, that’s the ticket.
Trusty called it “a fig leaf [for] any partisan jurors who want to acquit.”
But only those in an extreme state of partisan denial will still believe Hillary wasn’t behind that little trip to the FBI.
TechnoFog is doing some outstanding summaries of the testimony, and for Tuesday, he starts with Trisha Anderson, who in 2016 was an FBI general counsel reporting directly to James Baker. She’s asked to read her memo from Sussmann’s visit, which says, “No specific client, but group of cyber academics talked with him about research.”
Then Anderson is presented with an email dated June 16, 2016, concerning a meeting to be held later that day and including SUSSMANN, the CEO of the DNC, James Trainor of the FBI’s Cyber Division, and SHAWN HENRY of CrowdStrike. This meeting takes place two days after the June 14 announcement by the DNC that it had been a victim of Russian hacking and over a month before the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) said it, too, had been hacked by Russians.
Soooo...Durham appears to be going somewhere with the story about the DNC’s Russian “hack” and CrowdStrike. As you know, CrowdStrike never turned over the DNC hard drive to the FBI, and the FBI, amazingly, never pressed them about it. To this day, there’s been no evidence that Russia hacked the DNC, or the DCCC. Someone gave the emails to WikiLeaks, but Julian Assange maintains it was not Russia, or any “state actor.” Yet the “Russian hack” was used to help validate the false Trump-Russia “collusion” story. Sussmann is a common element.
TechnoFog also has more very interesting detail on Heide’s testimony. Heide said Bill Priestap (he of the curious memory lapses on Monday) had made it clear, the FBI’s 7th Floor –- including Director Jim Comey –- was demanding a full field investigation be opened. Heide viewed this as inappropriate, but it was “not an option.”
“In order to open a full field investigation,” Heide said, “we would need specific and articulable facts that a threat to U.S. national security has occurred or there’s been a violation of federal law.” But they were ordered to do it anyway, when nothing was found to substantiate the allegations in the Alfa Bank “white paper,”
Heide also testified that there was another confidential human source besides Sussmann supporting the Alfa Bank story. But this was apparently a media person (!), not a cyber expert. TechnoFog speculates that it was David Corn.
Next witness: Jared Novich, former business partner of Rodney Joffe. He testified that Joffe called and asked him to research some information regarding Trump and Russia. He did it, but said he’d never been asked to do something “very political” like this –- it “felt like opposition research.” The project was called “Crimson Rhino” and involved a list of names, home addresses, spouses, workplaces and personal email addresses. Carter Page’s name was on it. Joffe wanted “a 90-day history of data.” Spying, straight up.
This is getting more fascinating by the day.