A discussion of special counsel John Durham’s latest court filings wouldn’t be complete without the perspectives of analysts Margot Cleveland, senior legal correspondent at The Federalist, and Jonathan Turley, professor at George Washington University Law School, and we have them both today.
First, in case you didn’t see it yesterday, here’s the link to Part 1. One huge take-away from that is that the CIA, after being approached by Clinton campaign attorney Michael Sussmann with the fake Trump-Russia story --- including the weird tale about unusual Russian-made cell phones “following” Trump --- said it was “not technically plausible” and (the big one) “user-created.” Sussmann’s attorneys, of the Democrat-connected firm Latham and Watkins, are fighting like mad to keep this and all the CIA evidence out.
Turley was interviewed by Laura Ingraham on Monday night, and she asked a great question: Why might Durham have thought it was necessary to get all this information into the public domain via his detailed court filings? He said this is because Sussmann and his attorneys are taking a “real scorched-earth approach” to the trial, trying to keep evidence out, trying to keep witnesses from receiving immunity for their testimony. “That has forced the hand of this special counsel,” he said. Durham has had to tell the court why this evidence is so important.
Turley didn’t say this, but I wonder if by fighting so hard to keep this evidence out of court, Sussmann's team is calling even more attention to it than there might otherwise have been. Not that most mainstream media will cover it at all –- as with every other Democrat scandal, they’re getting whiplash from looking the other way –- but it’s slowly making its way into public consciousness --- at least among those members of the public who are conscious.
Turley pointed out that the law firm Perkins Coie, representing Hillary For America and the DNC, had “two of the critical figures,” Sussmann (under indictment) and the general counsel for the campaign, Marc Elias. Sussmann was working on the phony Alfa Bank story, and Elias was working on the phony Steele “dossier.” Recall that the FEC has recently fined the Clinton campaign for illegally hiding the true use of its funds by laundering the cash through Perkins Coie to pay Fusion GPS for the “dossier.” Just as Elias hid the purpose of that money billed to “legal services,” so Sussman hid the fact that he was acting on behalf of clients.
The significance: both of these were Russian collusion hoaxes, coordinated through Perkins Coie. It seems they were on parallel tracks, timed to coincide. That’s why Durham is lumping them together and including evidence of both in his case; he’s saying one set of facts helps prove the other.
On his own website, Turley’s headline emphasizes something we reported yesterday, that “five witnesses connected to the Clinton campaign’s false Russian claims have refused to cooperate.” These are members of that George Tech cyber team who either took the Fifth, so as not to incriminate themselves, or signified to Durham their intent to do so. The one who hadn’t was “Researcher – 2," not identified in the filing but known to be David Dagon, and he has had immunity since last July 28, over a month before Sussmann’s indictment.
Because those five researchers took the Fifth, Durham “pursued Researcher – 2’s immunity in order to uncover otherwise unavailable facts underlying the opposition research project that Tech Executive – 1 [Rodney Joffe] and others carried out in advance of the Defendant’s meeting with the FBI.”
“Researcher – 2” allegedly has information on meetings with both Elias and Steele.
Durham has numerous email exchanges that show doubts within the cyber team that they could fool people with their “evidence” of Trump-Russia collusion. “According to Durham, the Alfa Bank story fell apart even before Sussmann delivered it to the FBI,” Turley says. “...Notably, there were many who expressed misgivings not only within the companies working on the secret project but also among unnamed ‘university researchers’ who repeatedly said the argument was bogus.”
Researchers were told not to look for proof but just enough to “give the base of a very useful narrative.” You’ve seen the quote from “Researcher – 1”: “Let’s assume again that they are not smart enough to refute our ‘best case scenario.’ You do realize that we will have to expose every trick we have in our bag to make even a very weak association.”
I like to contrast the previous two paragraphs with the way Sussmann characterized these same researchers in bringing his user-created “evidence” to the CIA. Why, they were so brave, coming forward with information they thought was so important to the U.S. government that they did so at great personal risk, under threat from Russian intelligence! That’s why, of course, they insisted on remaining anonymous!
Margot Cleveland has weighed in on the Friday filings as well, and she always comes up with new angles. She points out that Durham is having to address about a dozen “tedious issues” regarding what evidence he may use at trial, as the defense is trying to get whatever it can excluded.
Recall that when the story broke about Sussmann TEXTING to FBI general counsel James Baker that he was not acting on behalf of any client, we wondered, “Why is this just now coming out?” The defense had been saying it was just hearsay, a “he said—he said,” and that there was no proof of this lie. Then, suddenly, there was the stunning proof that no one had seemed to know about. Where'd it come from?
Sussmann’s attorneys are claiming the text was stored on the cloud and that Baker had suddenly realized he never retrieved those messages. It had been thought that perhaps the DOJ’s Office of the Inspector General had withheld them, but apparently no. The court will have to decide whether this was an attempt to obstruct evidence.
Also, read Cleveland’s piece to see how obvious it is now that these people were SPYING ON Trump. By claiming those “Russian-made” cellphones appeared to be “following” Trump, they had to have Trump’s physical position. Were they using GPS to track him? This is something new. I thought we couldn’t be shocked anymore, but it they did this, consider me shocked a little.
Finally, as we told you yesterday, it’s David Dagon, “Tech Researcher – 2,” who was given immunity last July. (Reportedly, an unidentified Fusion GPS employee will also have immunity as a witness.) Cleveland is intrigued, because Dagon, one of the Georgia Tech crew, worked on both the Alfa Bank hoax and the Russian cell phone hoax. This and other details suggest that Dagon “holds a wealth of knowledge” related to both hoaxes. He should know the roles various people played, and he’ll be able to relate what information he and his team told Sussmann about the weakness of their “evidence.” That might make it harder for Sussmann to profess ignorance in that regard.
No wonder the defense team wants to keep it all out. Latham and Watkins and its elite Democrat clients have a lot more at stake than just fighting this one charge of lying.