The Durham Investigation, the Steele Dossier, & Misusing the Department of Justice For Partisan Political Purposes

Cole asked me to do a post on the Durham investigation and how the usual suspects – Greenwald, Taibbi, the Fox News/OAN/NewsMax/Breitbart/Shapiro/other conservative news and digital news sites, and other Trump world axis of shitbirds – and now CNN with their coverage of it yesterday, are using Durham’s indictments to scream and yell that 1) Putin was meddling in US politics in the 2016 election, 2) that the initial meddling eventually became focused on harming HRC and helping Trump, and 3) that Trump, his family members, his senior employees (I know family members and employees are the same category), and his campaign people – senior and junior – were all trying to figure out how to leverage Russia’s ops for Trump’s gain was all completely made up oppo. And that it demonstrates a real conspiracy between the law firm HRC’s campaign and the DNC used – which is now being used to further try to discredit Marc Elias, the FBI, the Obama administration, especially his DCI and DNI, John McCain, and the mainstream news media to try to prevent a Trump presidency and then destroy it once Trump was elected.

The reality is really much simpler. What Durham is doing is exactly what Barr intended him to do when he appointed Durham as a special counsel in addition to his regular duties as a US Attorney. Specifically:

  1. Use the investigation to continue to launder the disinformation, misinformation, and agitprop that the entire investigation into and that all the allegations of Trump’s business and financial connections to Russia, Russian oligarchs, and other post-Soviet oligarchs aligned with Russia
  2. Putin’s operation to interfere in the 2016 elections and American politics beyond 2016 first to hurt the chances of anyone who might take a hard line against him as president, then to damage Clinton’s chances, and finally to boost Trump’s
  3. Trump’s, his family member’s, his campaigns, and a number of outside supporters attempts to actually get help from Putin’s assets – both inside and outside of the Russian government
  4. To promote the idea that the real conspiracy against American in the 2016 election – to falsely allege and implicate the Trump-Putin connection – was that of the Democratic Party, the large white shoe law firms that work for them, MI6 via Steele, the Clinton campaign, the Obama administration, and senior appointed and career officials at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the CIA, the DOJ, the FBI, select Republican senators like John McCain, and the Ukrainian government

To do this, Durham has produced three indictments. The first is sort of a throw away. He caught a junior attorney at the FBI who prepared one of the FISA warrants for one of the lower level Trump campaign stooges having embellished some of the information including to get the warrant. The attorney pled out. Everyone reasonably thought that this was a face saver for Durham because he didn’t have anything because there was no way to actually accomplish what he was tasked with doing because what he was tased with doing was in direct opposition to well documented facts and events. Durham, however, has other ideas.

He has now indicted a very senior attorney – Michael Sussman – who brought the Steele dossier to the attention of senior FBI and DOJ officials. The indictment is for lying to the FBI for not explicitly tell them that the large white shoe law firm he works for was also, through other attorneys, representing the Clinton campaign with the implication that he concealed who else his firm represented -Clinton – in an attempt to induce the FBI to investigate Trump. The indictment is considered to be weak. It is clear from the interview notes that the senior FBI official, James Baker, did not ask him where he worked because he knew where he worked. Here’s Ken White’s, better known as Popehat, take:

/8 However, there are distinctly odd things about this indictment that take it outside the norm. First: it’s based on a face-to-face oral statement with one government witness, Baker. I don’t recall seeing another 1001 case like that.

/9 FBI agents travel in pairs, like Jedi or geese. Baker wasn’t an agent, but it’s super-unusual in my experience for an executive-level law enforcement like this to have a meeting like this with no witnesses for their support and protection. Weirder to hang a charge on it.

/10 On the one hand, Baker has expressed uncertainty about the details of the conversation, on the other hand, there is some corroboration about the conversation. But just the fact of a 1001 based on that scenario isn’t anything I recall seeing before.

/11 Next: the 27-page indictment is, to my reading, performative and seemingly focused on delivering a narrative of Trump-as-victim rather than a necessary exposition about Sussman’s alleged crime. It’s a one-count 1001; that usually doesn’t require so much verbiage.

/12 In evaluating whether my take is reasonable or partisan or a mixture, you could compare it to the indictment of Trump ally and indie cartoon character Roger Stone, 24 pages for obstruction and 5 1001 counts.

/13 To my read Stone’s is more focused on providing context for his statements and Sussman’s seems more political narrative driven, but that’s why you should read primary documents — to decide for yourself.

/14 If Sussman did what he’s accused of, I think it’s a clear 1001 violation. Whether it would “normally” be charged, whether it’s charged in a way designed to promote a political narrative, and whether it’s politically motived are vastly more complicated questions.

His third indictment is of the researcher – Igor Danchenko – that Steele hired to act as his investigator with a variety of Russian, post Soviet, and Russian aligned actors to get the opposition research for him. Here, again, is Ken White’s take:

A few comments on the Danchenko indictment. /1

/2 First, it’s on firmer footing than Durham’s Sussman indictment, which relies on a single person-to-person conversation. It lacks the questionable evidentiary issues of that charge.

/3 second, to an even greater extent than the Sussman indictment, it reads like a justification for Durham’s investigation. 39 pages of exposition for five simple 1001 counts is not normal. It reads like a vehicle for a narrative.

4 Third, like the Sussman indictment, this indictment is about distorting or withholding information that might have helped the FBI assess the credibility of the claims being made. But that’s enough to meet the materiality standard, which is extremely lax.

The key take aways are point 11 in the first set of tweets and point 3 in the second. Durham is using these indictments to launder the Black PSYOP that we covered from October 2019 through the spring of 2020. It is entirely possible that Durham will be able to make his cases against Sussman, Danchenko, or both. Marcy Wheeler has a full breakdown and deep textual dives of exactly what Durham is doing and how it is being laundered in both the conservative news, digital, and social media and what is called the mainstream media like CNN did yesterday.

The question is whether reality will intrude on what Durham is doing regardless of whether he can get convictions or plea agreements from Sussman and/or Danchenko. We know from both the Mueller investigative report sent to Congress, as well as the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence’s (SSCI) report on the 2016 campaign, election, and allegations of Putin interfering on behalf of Trump that the reason Mueller never brought charges of a direct conspiracy between Trump, his family members, his employees, his campaign officials, select outside campaign advisors and actors like Roger Stone and the Russian governmental and non-governmental actors carrying out Putin’s operation is because Trump, his family members, his employees, his campaign officials, select outside campaign advisors and actors were obstructing the Mueller investigation. The section on obstruction in the Mueller Report starts on p. 191 of the linked pdf and on p. 14 of the fifth volume of the linked SSCI report. In some cases in more than one way. For instance, Rudy Giuliani who was an outside advisor and surrogate for Trump during the campaign who then ensured he’d be Trump’s pro-bono outside legal advisor and counsel during the Mueller investigation.

What the Durham investigation and indictments are doing is what former AG Barr intended them to do: use the DOJ to launder misinformation, disinformation, and agitprop about how Christopher Steele collected his opposition information, the actual information he collected, and how that information was used once it got brought to the attention of elected officials like the late Senator McCain and counterintelligence and law enforcement officials at the DOJ and FBI. Barr started trying to discredit Mueller and his investigation before he was ever appointed attorney general. In fact the lengthy memo he sent Trump delineating why Mueller’s investigation wasn’t properly predicated served as his application for becoming attorney general. Durham is the last part, that we know of, of Barr’s attempts to cover up what happened in 2016.

The usual suspects, such as Greenwald, who are now using what Durham is producing to push their own agendas are largely covering their own asses. Wikileaks has now been fully exposed as what we always knew it to be. Not a truth telling, stalwart, information must be free group seeking to hold governments and the powerful accountable, but an asset of the Russian intelligence services run by a paranoid, megalomaniacal authoritarian with delusions of grandeur. What Greenwald, and Greenwald’s partners in these endeavors – Taibbi, Tracey, Mate, and others – are hoping t0o obscure is just how tightly connected to Assange and Wikileaks Greenwald is. Promoting what Durham is alleging as the real, actual truth is necessary for Greenwald to cover his own ass. Not for being involve in Wikileaks 2016 operations against the US, but in regard to his work with Wikileaks prior to that.

This is different than what the Breitbrats, Ben Shapiro, dim Jim Hoft, OANN, NewsMax, the evening talking heads at Fox, and others on the pro-Trump/MAGA right are promoting it because it is part of their grift.

Bannon and Stone are sort of in the middle. They have connections to Wikileaks from the 2016 campaign, but they also want to promote their grifts.

CNN just wants people to tune in so they have better ratings and can sell more advertising.

Durham’s investigation is using the Department of Justice to provide them with the disinformation, misinformation, and agitprop to provide all of them with what they need.

Open thread!

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