As promised, here’s more perspective on what happened last week in the Michael Sussmann trial and its significance going into Week 2.
There were more witnesses called to testify on Friday than just the “stars,” former FBI General Counsel James Baker and Hillary For America chairman Robby Mook. But Mook’s revelation –- that not only was Hillary told of the phony Alfa Bank story and warned it was unverified but also that she personally gave the go-ahead --- garnered so much richly-deserved attention that we’re only now getting to the others.
Two former CIA employees testified on Friday, and they supported Special Counsel Durham’s point that Sussmann’s deception was part of a “pattern.” In other words, Sussmann didn’t just figure on lying that one time to James Baker and the FBI about not representing any clients during his visit. Months later, he told these two CIA employees the same lie.
The two, identified in court only as Kevin P. and Steve M., testified that in February 2017 –- after Trump had become President –- Sussmann came to CIA headquarters at Langley, Virginia, and gave them two thumb drives, just as he had to Baker at the FBI back in September. Kevin P. testified that Sussmann told them he was “not representing any client.” Sussmann said the thumb drives, from a couple of unidentified “contacts,” showed a secret cyber back-channel between a Trump Organization server and one belonging to Russia-linked Alfa Bank.
Steve M. drafted a memo after their meeting, summarizing what had taken place and noting that Sussmann had been there on behalf of a client. The memo was shown to jurors. But Kevin P. edited the memo to change “client” to “contacts.” That version was also shown.
Sussmann also told them he'd taken “similar but unrelated” information to the FBI. (Never mind that the FBI had essentially dismissed his “evidence” the first day and later had found the story in the “white papers” to be unsupported by the data.)
Now-retired CIA official Mark Chadason, who’d been station chief in Europe and North Africa, also testified, saying that Sussmann had reached out to him and told him he had information relating to a matter of “national security” that he'd tried to get to them through the CIA general counsel. Chadason met with him at a Northern Virginia motel on January 31, 2017 –- again, after Trump was President –- at the request of a mutual friend. It appears that Sussmann couldn’t keep his story straight; he told Chadason he did have a client, but that his client was a Republican. Oh, and he wasn’t sure if his REPUBLICAN client would reveal himself to the CIA.
That might be an even more outrageous lie, as I’d be very surprised if “ultra-Democrat” Perkins Coie, the firm that represented both Hillary For America and the DNC, has represented any Republicans at all, EVER. (Well, maybe the Adam Kinzinger- or Liz Cheney-types, but those don't count.) No, Sussmann was just telling another version of the lie. And the lie absolutely was “material” (the magic word in a case about lying), as Baker has testified that the FBI would have subjected Sussmann’s evidence to more scrutiny if he’d told them it was from a client.
In fact, Baker testified that if he’d known Sussmann was pushing the Alfa Bank story on behalf of a client, he would’ve said, “If you’re meeting on behalf of Clinton, you shouldn’t come see me.” He told the court, “I was willing to meet with Michael alone because I had high confidence in him and trust. I think I would have made a different assessment if he said he had been appearing on behalf of a client.”
Jerry Dunleavy at the WASHINGTON EXAMINER has more of his testimony about that very important issue.
As for Chadason, when cross-examined by the defense, he said Sussmann had seemed “frustrated” that he hadn’t been able to interest the feds. Sussmann had said during their meeting that if the CIA didn’t pursue this, he’d take it to THE NEW YORK TIMES. Chadason didn’t take that as a threat, he told the jury, but as more of an act of desperation.
As Nick Arama at RedState reports, the Sussmann defense has tried to portray his lie as just a random “one-off,” not part of a deliberate scheme to mislead. But now we know: lying about not representing any client was part of his plan, because he did it repeatedly.
Friday, Baker said there was something else Sussmann never told the FBI: that a “white paper” he was passing along about Alfa Bank was prepared by Fusion GPS, the same company behind the Steele “dossier.” Baker said this knowledge would’ve caused him to treat the evidence differently, as it would’ve raised fears that “the FBI was being pulled into some kind of political agenda –- a political ploy.” It would have led to “serious conversations,” he said, among top leadership about “what, if anything, to do with this material and how to handle it.”
“It would have raised in my mind the concern about, ‘Wait a minute; he also does, in other matters, represent the [DNC] and the Clinton campaign,’” Baker testified. “‘Is that what’s going on here?’”
THE WALL STREET JOURNAL published an editorial on Friday called “Hillary Clinton Did It.” Subhead: “Her 2016 campaign manager says she approved a plan to plant a false Russia claim with a reporter.” The WSJ is by subscription, but even if you don’t subscribe, the link will take you to an excerpt of the “Journal Editorial Report,” featuring Kim Strassel summarizing the “depth and the breadth” of what Durham has exposed and explaining why he might have chosen not to go further with wider conspiracy charges in this DC courtroom. His primary goal, she says, is to tell the story, and he certainly has.
One’s first thought reading that headline might be, “She did it? Did what?" After all, Hillary has done so many bad things over the years. (As Monica Crowley said to Steve Hilton on THE NEXT REVOLUTION Sunday night, “Mrs. Clinton has been a dark menace on the political landscape for 40 years, so the depths of her deceit and corruption know no bounds.”) But thanks to this seemingly interminable investigation that was well worth the wait, we know she personally gave the order to frame her political opponent in 2016.
The “money paragraph” from the WSJ editorial has been thoughtfully passed along by THE DAILY CALLER. A must-read.
Finally, for when you have time, it’s fun to go back and read Paul Sperry’s report from January, detailing what we knew (unofficially) then about Hillary’s role in spreading fake Trump-Russia connections. It wasn’t just the Alfa Bank hoax; it was the “dossier,” too. And Obama had been advised of this. It started as a distraction from Hillary’s own scandal and WikiLeaks’ publishing of those damaging DNC emails, which we still don’t know were a Russian hack, regardless of the Democrats’ insistence. They’ve lied so much; what makes anyone think this particular claim is true?