Why Handwritten FBI And DOJ Notes The Special Counsel Just Released Are Huge

Why Handwritten FBI And DOJ Notes The Special Counsel Just Released Are Huge

Recently released handwritten notes from a briefing of the acting attorney general on the status of Crossfire Hurricane reveal the FBI either lied about the source of intel or the British intelligence community fed information to the U.S. agents investigating Donald Trump and his associates.

As part of the pre-trial discovery in the government’s prosecution of former Clinton campaign lawyer Michael Sussmann, the special counsel provided defense lawyers notes taken on March 6, 2017, during a high-level briefing of acting Attorney General Dana Boente about the then-ongoing investigation into supposed Russia collusion.

Boente, who held oversight of the DOJ and FBI related to the Crossfire Hurricane investigation because of then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions’s recusal, received an update during the meeting from the FBI’s then-Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, then-assistant director of the FBI Counterintelligence Division Bill Priestap, and Counterintelligence Deputy Assistant Director Peter Strzok. DOJ officials Tashina Gauhar, Mary McCord, and Scott Schools took notes during the briefing, and those notes became public during the Sussmann trial that ended in an acquittal last week.

Soon after the release of the notes, Hans Mahncke and Stephen McIntyre detailed for The Federalist, several passages that indicated the FBI had lied to the DOJ during the March 6, 2017 meeting in numerous ways. From the cryptic notes, Mahncke and McIntyre deciphered and exposed several significant false storylines sold to the acting attorney general, making their article a must-read.

While any lies, misrepresentations, or material omissions matter—or should, especially when told to the acting attorney general related to an investigation connected to the president of the United States, the note’s references to “CROWN reporting” prove particularly significant because of the FISA court’s insistence that the DOJ included Christopher Steele’s background as an MI6 agent in the FISA application prior to the secret surveillance court issuing an order to surveil Carter Page.

The phrase “CROWN Reporting” appeared multiple times in one set of handwritten notes taken during McCabe, Priestap, and Strzok’s March 6, 2017, FBI briefing of the DOJ and Acting Attorney General Boente. Next to “CROWN Reporting,” the notes referenced “convention,” Crimea” and “NATO” and “soften stance for exchange of Russian energy stocks.” These notations fell under the header of points related to Manafort.

A second reference to “CROWN source reporting” came during the FBI’s briefing of Boente concerning the investigation of Carter Page, with the notation following the general discussion of Page.

Huge Implications No Matter the Source

The notes do not elaborate on the “CROWN source” or who provided the “CROWN source reporting.” There are two possibilities, both of which have huge implications for the ongoing special counsel investigation.

First, the claimed “CROWN source” could be former MI6 spy Steele. To date, Steele remains the only person with a connection to British intelligence publicly known to have provided the FBI with information related to Trump and individuals connected to Trump during the Russia collusion investigation.

But if by “CROWN source” the FBI meant Steele, the individual briefing Boente lied to him in several ways, did so in a material way, and there is likely a paper trail that can confirm an earlier, similar lie by FBI agents.

While Steele had at one time served in the British intelligence service, his MI6 status ended long ago, when he retired in 2009 to start the private intelligence service Orbis Business Intelligence. Further, as the Department of Justice Office of Inspector General (OIG) reported more than two years ago, Steele told the OIG that the source network he used to compile the memoranda, referred to colloquially as the Steele dossier, did not involve sources from his time as an MI6 agent. On the contrary, his sources were “developed entirely in the period after he retired from government service.”

So not only was Steele not a “CROWN source,” his supposed “intel” also lacked any connection to “Crown Source Reporting.” Accordingly, unless the FBI had a still publicly unknown “CROWN source” who provided the information on which agents briefed the DOJ during the March 6, 2017 meeting, they lied to the DOJ.

If They Lied, It Really Matters

Falsely attributing “intel” to a “CROWN source” proves significant, and not merely for Boente’s oversight of Crossfire Hurricane, but also for Boente’s decision to approve the third application to surveil Page under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). And the DOJ’s representation of a connection between Steele and British intelligence in the FISA applications appeared dispositive to the FISA court’s decision to authorize surveillance of Page.

Two little-noticed passages, separated by some 50 pages in the OIG’s 478-page report on FISA abuse, revealed the importance the FISA court put on Steele’s connection to British intelligence in ordering surveillance of Page. According to the OIG, before filing its official FISA application, the DOJ submitted a “read copy” to the FISA court to obtain feedback from the FISA court’s legal advisor on whether the application met the statutory requirements and on any issues of concern raised by the legal advisor or the FISA judge handling the application.

In the first read copy submitted to the FISA court related to Page, the application “contained a description of the source network that included the fact that Steele relied upon a Primary Sub-source who used a network of sub-sources, and that neither Steele nor the Primary Sub-source had direct access to the information being reported.” The draft application “also contained a separate footnote on each sub-source with a brief description of his/her position or access to the information he/she was reporting.”

After reviewing the read copy, the FISA court’s “legal advisor asked how it was that Steele had a network of sub-sources.” In response, the government’s Office of Intelligence (OI) attorney “provided additional information to him regarding Steele’s past employment history.”

The FISA court’s legal advisor then requested that additional information be included in the final application, resulting in the final version of the October 2016 FISA application including a footnote detailing Steele’s prior work for British intelligence. The FISA court granted the revised FISA application, ordering surveillance of Page to begin in October 2016. The FISA court renewed the surveillance order three additional times, once in December, again in March, when Boente signed the application, and finally on June 29, 2022, when Acting Attorney General Rod Rosenstein signed the final FISA application.

All of the applications referenced Steele’s past service in British intelligence, but, as noted above, Steele’s source network was unrelated to his government work and came entirely from his private work. Given that the FISA court’s legal advisor questioned “how it was that Steele had a network of sub-sources,” and that the advisor directed the OI attorney to expressly include Steele’s previous work as an MI6 agent in the application, the FISA court clearly believed Steele’s network of sources came from his time as a British agent.

Further, given the significance the FISA court placed on that fact, it seems likely the FISA court would have denied the surveillance order had it been told the truth—that Steele’s network of sources had been privately acquired.

FBI Liars Could Still Be Held Accountable

The FBI’s representation during the March 6, 2017 meeting that the supposed intel related to Manafort and Page came from “CROWN sources,”—again, assuming the agent meant Steele—suggests the Crossfire Hurricane team deceived the DOJ from the beginning, resulting in the OI attorney representing to the FISA court that Steele’s network of sources were sources used by British intelligence. That deception also likely affected Boente’s decision to sign the second renewal application.

While these events occurred more than five years ago, and a five-year statute of limitations governs false statement offenses, the D.C. Circuit has held that if a defendant engages in a scheme “to falisf[y], conceal[], or cover[]up” material facts, the limitations period does not begin to run until the scheme ends.

In this case, then, any FBI agents involved in concealing from the DOJ during the final preparation and review of the June 29, 2017, FISA application that Steele’s sources were not “CROWN sources” or connected to his work in British intelligence could still face criminal liability.

Go Get ‘Em, Durham

Further, while the Sussmann trial proved memories fail—sometimes conveniently—uncovering the individuals responsible for representing Steele’s source network as connected to his past life as an MI6 agent seems a relatively straightforward venture given what we learned from the special counsel’s conviction of Kevin Clinesmith.

Clinesmith pleaded guilty nearly two years ago to altering an email related to Page to make it appear that Page “was not a source” for the CIA. Clinesmith’s undoing came from the fact that in preparing the FISA application and renewals, the various government actors used email to confirm details, including with Clinesmith.

The OIG report on FISA abuse detailed that process, noting there were many “back-and-forth exchange[s]” “between the OI Attorney and the FBI, during which the OI Attorney asked many questions about Page, as well as about Steele’s reporting and the structure and access of his source network.” “To further address reliability, the OI Attorney sought information from the FBI to describe the source network in the FISA application,” according to the OIG report. And that information-gathering process included email exchanges and written summaries of briefings.

Either that briefing left the OI attorney with the impression that Steele’s source network came from his MI6 work, or after the FISA court legal advisor asked, “how it was that Steele had a network of sub-sources,” the OI attorney pushed the FBI for more information. If the latter, emails likely memorialize the exchanges.

Whether the FBI agents affirmatively misrepresented Steele’s source network as connected to his British intelligence work in their communiques with the OI attorney, and in turn the OI attorney relayed that information to the FISA court, is unknown to us, but hopefully not to Special Counsel Durham.

Even if no one lied to the OI attorney and he merely assumed Steele’s source network carried over from his time with MI6, a misrepresentation to Boente during the March 6, 2017, briefing that Steele was a “CROWN source” still matters because the FISA surveillance orders were renewed two more times after that meeting.

That, of course, is assuming the FBI meant Steele when they referenced a “CROWN source”—something not entirely clear. More on that shortly.

Margot Cleveland is The Federalist’s senior legal correspondent. She is also a contributor to National Review Online, the Washington Examiner, Aleteia, and Townhall.com, and has been published in the Wall Street Journal and USA Today. Cleveland is a lawyer and a graduate of the Notre Dame Law School, where she earned the Hoynes Prize—the law school’s highest honor. She later served for nearly 25 years as a permanent law clerk for a federal appellate judge on the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals. Cleveland is a former full-time university faculty member and now teaches as an adjunct from time to time. As a stay-at-home homeschooling mom of a young son with cystic fibrosis, Cleveland frequently writes on cultural issues related to parenting and special-needs children. Cleveland is on Twitter at @ProfMJCleveland. The views expressed here are those of Cleveland in her private capacity.


Justice Denied: Lawlessness Abounds In DC

Justice Denied: Lawlessness Abounds In DC

Kristi Leigh TV – Jun 5, 2022

Justice Denied: Lawlessness Abounds In DC

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Why The Special Counsel Needs To Fight For More Spygate Documents, Stat

Special Counsel John Durham’s prosecution of Igor Danchenko, the Russian national who served as Christopher Steele’s primary sub-source, will soon heat up—maybe as early as next week, if prosecutors are wise and return to the grand jury to obtain the documents the Hillary Clinton campaign wrongfully withheld based on attorney-client privilege. Those documents will likely reveal Fusion GPS peddled Danchenko’s lies directly to reporters.

The jury’s acquittal of former Clinton campaign attorney Michael Sussmann after less than a day of deliberations represented a setback to Durham’s three-year investigation of the Russia collusion hoax. Americans nonetheless learned much from the prosecution, including that Hillary Clinton held personal responsibility for the peddling of the Alfa Bank conspiracy theory and that, post-Donald Trump, the FBI and legacy media remain corrupt.

The special counsel team also learned a valuable lesson from the court’s rulings on the admissibility of documents withheld from the grand jury based on the Clinton campaign’s assertion of attorney-client privilege: Don’t wait until trial to challenge the improperly withheld documents.

Given the breakneck speed of the Sussmann prosecution, it is to be expected that, following Tuesday’s acquittal, the special counsel team regroups for a few days. But by Monday, their focus should turn to their prosecution of Danchenko.

Background on the Danchenko Case

In November 2021, the special counsel indicted Danchenko on five counts, charging him “with lying to the FBI during the agents’ questioning of him related to his role as Christopher Steele’s ‘Primary Sub-Source’ for the notorious dossier that enabled Obama administration surveillance of the Trump campaign.”

Over 39 pages, the speaking indictment revealed how Danchenko first met Steele in 2010. He was introduced to the former MI6 spy by Steele’s longtime friend, Fiona Hill, who knew Danchenko from their work at the Brookings Institute. Since then, Steele’s London-based firm, Orbis Business Intelligence, hired Danchenko for contract work related to Russia research.

In 2016, the Clinton campaign, through its law firm Perkins Coie, hired the U.S.-based research firm Fusion GPS. In turn, Fusion GPS hired Orbis and Steele to investigate the Trump campaign and any connections to Russia. Steele then contacted Danchenko, a Russian national, eventually relying heavily on Danchenko’s supposed “intel” in crafting the numerous memorandum that later became known as the Steele dossier, and referring to Danchenko throughout as “Primary Sub-Source 1.”

A Tissue of Lies

Danchenko, according to the special counsel’s indictment, lied extensively when providing Steele his supposed intel. The indictment also says one of Danchenko’s “sources,” Charles Dolan, Jr., who has long-time connections to the Clintons and the Democrat Party, lied to Danchenko.

Dolan was named in the indictment merely as “PR Executive-1.” According to the indictment, Dolan lied to Danchenko when he told Danchenko a “GOP friend” had told him that Paul Manafort had been forced to resign from the Trump campaign because of allegations connecting Manafort to Ukraine. While Dolan later admitted to the FBI that he had no such “GOP friend” and that he had instead gleaned this information from press reports, Dolan’s fabrication appeared in the Steele dossier thanks to Danchenko’s lies.

Yet when the FBI questioned Danchenko on June 15, 2017, according to the indictment, Danchenko “denied to agents of the FBI that he had spoken with [Dolan] about any material contained in the [Steele dossier].” That lie formed Count I of the special counsel’s charges against Danchenko.

The remaining four counts of the indictment concerned Danchenko’s alleged lies about his supposed conversation with the then-Russian Chamber of Commerce President Sergei Millian. According to the indictment, Danchenko told FBI agents on multiple occasions—thus the four counts—that he believed Millian had provided him information during an anonymous phone call, including the “intel,” later included in the Steele dossier, that there was “a well-developed ‘conspiracy of cooperation’ between the Trump Campaign and Russian officials.”

But Danchenko never spoke with Millian and Millian was not a source for Danchenko nor the Steele dossier, as Millian has long maintained. Millian will not comment further, telling The Federalist that Durham’s team requested he “not talk to the press about details of the investigation.”

Get Those Subpoenas Enforced

Some of those details will likely be made public, however, when pre-trial filings begin to hit the docket in the case against Danchenko. With the October 11, 2022, trial date only about four months away, one could anticipate various filings to flow in soon. But following the court’s ruling in United States v. Sussmann that the special counsel waited too long to challenge documents withheld from the grand jury based on the Clinton campaign’s assertion of attorney-client privilege, Durham’s team should move next week to enforce any subpoenas.

In the Sussmann case, on April 6, 2022, the special counsel filed a Motion to Compel documents withheld from the grand jury to be produced to the court in camera. On May 4, 2022, presiding judge Christopher Cooper ordered Fusion GPS to provide the court 38 documents sought by the special counsel’s office to allow the court to determine whether they were protected by attorney-client privilege. Then, on May 12, 2022, the court ruled that emails between Fusion GPS and the press “as part of an affirmative media relations effort by the Clinton Campaign” were not privileged and must be provided to prosecutors.

The court, however, further ruled that because the special counsel waited “until April 6, 2022, just over a month before trial was set to begin,” to challenge the privilege, “allowing the Special Counsel to use these documents at trial would prejudice Mr. Sussmann’s defense.” Accordingly, while the special counsel’s office obtained access to the documents, they could not use those documents during the prosecution of Sussmann.

To ensure prosecutors both have access to all material documents and the ability to use any relevant documents during the Danchenko trial, the special counsel’s office should move quickly to obtain any material previously withheld by Fusion GPS under the auspices of attorney-client privilege. In total, as the court explained in the Sussmann case, Fusion GPS withheld “approximately 1500 documents” from the grand jury, but the judge only considered privilege for 38 documents prosecutors sought access to in its case against the former Clinton campaign manager.

What’s Inside Those Documents

The details contained in Danchenko’s indictment, coupled with the content of various emails between Fusion GPS and reporters, suggest some of the 1,500 documents withheld will concern Danchenko’s supposed intel, even though Danchenko was one step removed from Fusion GPS, having been brought into the Russia collusion smear project by Steele.

The indictment, for instance, notes that on “July 28, 2016, Danchenko sent a message to an acquaintance” stating, “Thanks to my reporting in the past 36 hours, Steele and Steele’s assistant are flying in tomorrow for a few days so I might be busy.” That same day the FBI’s New York Field Office received two of Steele’s election reports.

July 28, 2016, is also the date the FBI received the “tip” from the Australian diplomat that George Papadopoulos “had received some kind of suggestion from Russia that it could assist . . . with the anonymous release of information during the campaign that would be damaging to [Hillary] Clinton.” That “tip” purportedly formed the basis for opening Crossfire Hurricane.

Massaging the Media

That July 28, 2016 message from Danchenko proves significant in context of the flurry of emails from Fusion GPS’s co-founders, Glenn Simpson and Peter Fritsch, to reporters that were made public during the Sussmann prosecution. During this same timeframe, Simpson and Fritsch were peddling to the media claims that Millian and Carter Page were part of the supposed Trump-Russia collusion. As with Millian, Danchenko had fabricated supposed intel about Page, providing it to Steele. Steele included it in the dossier, which he then handed off to the FBI.

For instance, on July 24, 2016, Simpson emailed the Washington Post’s Tom Hamburger with the subject line “millian,” providing Hamburger two email addresses for Millian. The next day, Mark Hosenball from Reuters emailed Simpson, asking him to “please remember to send me stuff on Sergei the Millian-aire.” Hosenball also asked Simpson for any “stuff on the Carter Page guy, including his most recent Russian excursions.”

On July 26, 2016, an email thread between Fritsch and Jay Solomon from the Wall Street Journal shows Fritsch saying, off the record, that an “easy scoop waiting for confirmation: that dude carter page met with igor sechin when he went to moscow earlier this month.” Fritsch also told Solomon that Page “met with a senior kremlin official called divyekin, who told page they have good kompromat on hillary and offered to help. He also warned page they have good kompromat on the donald.”

Fusion GPS also pushed Millian as a Russian stooge to ABC News’ Matthew Mosk in an email thread from July 28, 2016. Yet another email thread, between Simpson and the Washington Post’s Hamburger dated July 29, 2016, also confirms that Fusion GPS pushed the fiction that Page met with Sechin and Ivanov in Russia to the Post reporter. Hamburger told Simpson that he had checked with one of their Moscow sources, who called the claim of a meeting “bullshit” and “impossible.”

Feeding Fabrications to the FBI

The Danchenko indictment includes a second allegation that proves key when read with Fusion GPS’s emails to the media. According to the indictment, on September 18, 2016, Danchenko sent another message to the same acquaintance, stating that he had “work to do for Steele who’s probably coming to DC on Wednesday.” The indictment further noted that Steele then traveled to Washington D.C. on September 21, 2016.

While in D.C. on September 21, 2016, “at the direction of Fusion GPS, Christopher Steele brief[ed] the N.Y. Times, Washington Post, New Yorker, Yahoo! News, and CNN.” According to a Yahoo! News reporter present at that briefing, “Steele told him at the meeting that he had provided his election reporting to the FBI and that there were ‘people in the [FBI] taking this very seriously.”

The day after Danchenko mentioned the work he had to do for Steele, Fusion GPS’s Jake Berkowitz sent his boss Simpson and Mosk an email further painting Millian as a Russian asset. A thread between The New York Times’ Eric Lichtblau and Fritsch dating from September 24 and September 27, 2016 likewise focused on Millian, with Fusion GPS providing the Times reporter Millian’s IP address and screengrabs indicating it was registered in Moscow.

The timing and content of these emails suggest Danchenko’s lies went from Steele to Fusion GPS and then straight to the media. What the emails don’t disclose, however, are the conversations between Steele and Fusion GPS, internally at Fusion GPS, and between Fusion GPS and Marc Elias of Perkins Coie.

Some of the approximate 1,500 emails Fusion GPS withheld from the special counsel likely include discussions of the “intel” Steele obtained from Danchenko. It is well past time for Durham to fight for those documents.

Margot Cleveland is The Federalist’s senior legal correspondent. She is also a contributor to National Review Online, the Washington Examiner, Aleteia, and Townhall.com, and has been published in the Wall Street Journal and USA Today. Cleveland is a lawyer and a graduate of the Notre Dame Law School, where she earned the Hoynes Prize—the law school’s highest honor. She later served for nearly 25 years as a permanent law clerk for a federal appellate judge on the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals. Cleveland is a former full-time university faculty member and now teaches as an adjunct from time to time. As a stay-at-home homeschooling mom of a young son with cystic fibrosis, Cleveland frequently writes on cultural issues related to parenting and special-needs children. Cleveland is on Twitter at @ProfMJCleveland. The views expressed here are those of Cleveland in her private capacity.


Kash Patel Calls on DOJ to Move Russia Hoax Trials Outside of D.C. After Sussman Verdict 

Kash Patel Calls on DOJ to Move Russia Hoax Trials Outside of D.C. After Sussman Verdict 

Former White House national security official Kash Patel called on the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) to move its Russia hoax trials outside of the Washington D.C. area after a “tainted” jury acquitted Michael Sussmann on Tuesday.

Sussman is a former Hillary Clinton Campaign lawyer who the DOJ prosecuted on charges of lying to the FBI as part of Special Counsel John Durham’s investigation into the “Russia collusion” hoax. However, a jury acquitted Sussman on these charges after a full trial.

Sussman was a key player in promoting the “Russia collusion” hoax.

As Breitbart News’s Joel Pollak reported:

Sussmann gave the FBI data that had been produced by researchers working with the campaign and that purported to link Trump to Russia via Alfa Bank. The accusation was soon found to be groundless, but was part of the overall “Russia collusion” conspiracy theory that the Clinton campaign used to smear Trump during the campaign and after his victory.

Patel was brought up during Sussman’s trial, as the prosecution used his four-year-old interview with Sussman as evidence. Patel helped then-Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) investigate the “Russia collusion” hoax while Nunes served on the House Intelligence Committee. Sussman reportedly told the committee he “was working for a client when he went to the FBI claiming that computer evidence showed then-candidate Donald Trump was tied to the Russian government via Alfa Bank.”

Patel said that after Sussmann’s acquittal, his faith in the Justice Department was “completely gone.”

“I was the last man who had any faith in D.C. and the Department of Justice. It is now completely gone,” Patel said in a statement obtained by Breitbart News. He then accused the jury pool of being “tainted” and showing its “political stripes.” Patel also condemned the federal court system for allowing three pro-Hillary Clinton Democrat donors to serve on the jury.

“The D.C. tainted jury pool showed its political stripes and barely deliberated,” Patel said. “Having jury members on a case of this caliber that have donated to such high profile Democrats including Hillary and AOC is beyond unethical, yet they are still responsible for making a decision that looks at the evidence.”

“They violated the law and they violated the oaths they took to sit on the jury,” he added.”

Patel also called out Durham and the prosecution for losing a case that “should have been a lock” in light of the “indisputable” evidence. Patel said:

The lie was shown to them in black and white and the evidence was indisputable. This was a case that should have been a lock for the prosecution as the evidence showed completely clear links and trails of data that linked Sussmann to the Hillary Clinton Campaign including billing the hard drive to the campaign.

He went on to call on the DOJ to remove the hoax cases from D.C.’s jurisdiction.

“The DOJ needs to move these cases out of D.C. as it is 100% impossible to have a fair trial in the city. I am appalled at this verdict and appalled at our justice system,” Patel concluded.


Even If The Jury Doesn’t Convict Michael Sussmann, The Special Counsel Has Won

Even If The Jury Doesn’t Convict Michael Sussmann, The Special Counsel Has Won

The jury in the Michael Sussmann criminal case resumes deliberations today after the long Memorial Day weekend. While prosecutors presented overwhelming evidence over the last two weeks that Sussmann lied to then-FBI General Counsel James Baker in 2016, an acquittal by the D.C. jury still seems likely.

Judging the success of Special Counsel John Durham’s probe into the investigation of President Trump and those associated with the Trump campaign and administration should not rest on the outcome of the Sussmann prosecution, however. In fact, even if the special counsel’s office scores a conviction in its false statement case against Sussmann, that would do little to right the scales of justice unbalanced by more than five years of the politically motivated abuse of power that began as Crossfire Hurricane and continued even after Special Counsel Robert Mueller issued his final report.

So, measuring Durham’s performance by the outcome in United States v. Sussmann would be a mistake. Also, especially in the case of an acquittal, it would ignore the valuable information exposed related to the broader Spygate scandal. Using that gauge as a measure, the special counsel’s office succeeded wildly.

Durham Proved the Collusion Hoax Was a Hillary Clinton Enterprise

On September 19, 2016, Sussmann provided Baker data and whitepapers purporting to show a secret communications network between the Russia-based Alfa Bank and Donald Trump. In indicting Sussmann for allegedly lying to Baker during this meeting, the special counsel’s office revealed in its 27-page speaking indictment “a scandal much deeper than merely Sussmann’s role in a second Russian hoax — a scandal that entangles the Clinton campaign, multiple internet companies, two federally-funded university researchers, and a complicit media.”

Since then, proof that the Clinton campaign held near-total responsibility for launching the Russia-collusion hoax mounted with nearly every legal filing. It eventually culminated during the Sussmann trial when former Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook testified that Hillary Clinton personally “agreed with the decision” to feed the unverified—and quickly debunked—theory that Trump was communicating secretly with Russia through a back-door Alfa Bank channel.

Other trial evidence confirmed the Clinton campaign paid the law firm Perkins and Coie a flat fee of as much as $130,000 per month during the campaign, and authorized lead counsel Marc Elias to hire Fusion GPS for opposition research. Billing records then showed Sussmann charged his time for working the Alfa Bank hoax—including the time he spent meeting with the FBI’s General Counsel Baker—to the Clinton campaign. In fact, late last week, the jury in the Sussmann case learned that Sussmann even charged the Clinton campaign for two thumb drives purchased at Staples used for the Alfa Bank project.

While the Sussmann case focused on the Alfa Bank hoax, the detailed evidence presented over the course of that prosecution also confirmed the Clinton campaign paid for Fusion GPS to compile the Christopher Steele dossier. Given Mook’s testimony that he sought Clinton’s approval to push the Alfa Bank claims to the media, it is only reasonable to infer she likewise personally green-lighted the peddling of the claims contained in the Steele dossier.

But even if Clinton did not personally approve of peddling the lies contained in the Steele dossier, the Sussmann case established that her campaign paid for the lies—including those emanating from the Russian-national Igor Danchenko. And Special Counsel Durham’s indictment against Danchenko reveals that individuals hired by the Clinton campaign fed that Russian disinformation to U.S. media, law enforcement, and intelligence agencies.

A Court Ruling Requiring More Disclosures

Beyond exposing the Clinton campaign’s responsibility for the Russia-collusion hoax, Durham’s prosecution of Sussmann sets the stage for potentially even more damaging revelations about Clinton’s personal involvement in the scandal.

To date, the Clinton campaign has hidden behind claims of attorney-client privilege to prevent Durham from obtaining documents, communications, and testimony through the grand jury. The Clinton campaign claimed material prepared by, or communications between, Perkins and Coie attorneys, Fusion GPS employees, investigators, and other third parties are protected by attorney-client privilege. Prosecutors in the Sussmann case, however, succeeded in obtaining a court ruling that several documents withheld by Fusion GPS, based on the Clinton campaign’s claims of privilege, are not protected and must be given to prosecutors.

While Fusion GPS continues to withhold thousands of documents, this precedent provides the special counsel’s office solid grounds to challenge the privilege in both the Danchenko case and in other grand jury probes that may be pending. Piercing the privilege will prove key to further exposing Clinton’s personal involvement in Spygate.

Killing the Alfa Bank Hoax For Good

No matter the verdict the jury returns in the Sussmann case, the special counsel’s prosecution also revealed that the Alfa Bank stories were hoaxes—and the scandalous way they were crafted and seeded to America.

Voters first learned of the supposed connection between Trump and the Russian-based Alfa Bank about one week before the 2016 U.S. presidential election, when Slate reported that trusted cyber experts had discovered an “irregular pattern of server lookups” that suggested “a sustained relationship between a server registered to the Trump Organization and two servers registered to an entity called Alfa Bank.”

While the Slate article hedged somewhat by admitting “what the scientists amassed wasn’t a smoking gun,” and that the data “doesn’t absolutely preclude alternative explanations,” the headline, “Group of Computer Scientists Believes a Trump Server Was Communicating With a Russian Bank,” captured the essence of the article—and what its author Franklin Foer, Fusion GPS, and the Clinton campaign wanted Americans to believe.

The Alfa Bank hoax did not end there, however, or even after Trump’s election. Sussmann continued to push the theory to the CIA in February 2017, following Trump’s inauguration. Soon thereafter, Daniel Jones, a former staffer for the U.S. Senate Committee on Intelligence, Ranking Member Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-California, and the president and CEO of The Democracy Integrity Project (TDIP) continued the Alfa Bank witch-hunt.

According to a complaint filed with the Senate’s Ethics Committee, staff and members of the Senate Armed Services Committee, including T. Kirk McConnell, “requested and accepted” professional services from Jones and TDIP. Specifically, the complaint alleged that the Armed Services Committee, “via senior leadership staff acting in their official capacity, asked Mr. Jones to research and offer his insights into the alleged connections between Alfa Bank and Trump Organization servers,” and to “evaluate information it had received about DNS look-ups between Alfa Bank servers and Trump Organization servers.”

Jones, the TDIP, and the Senate Armed Services Committee continued the Alfa Bank investigation long after the FBI had concluded in early February 2017 that there “were no such links” between the Trump organization and Alfa Bank. The media also persisted in pushing the supposed Russia collusion scandal.

Media Keeps the Lies Circulating

The New Yorker’s Dexter Filkins re-upped the Alfa Bank tale in 2018, in a tome titled, “Was There a Connection Between a Russian Bank and the Trump Campaign?” Filkins then resurrected the story for The New Yorker in October 2020, repeating many of the same allegations in “The Contested Afterlife of the Trump-Alfa Bank Story.”

In both pieces, Filkins referenced “Max,” who claimed that he, along with a team of other supposed guardians of the internet, had uncovered the mysterious Alfa Bank-Trump connections. But thanks to the prosecution of Sussmann, we now know “Max” is tech executive Rodney Joffe, and that his fellow cyber experts pushing the Alfa Bank hoax were April Lorenzen and David Dagon.

Court filings in the Sussmann case also revealed that the cyber researchers saw the Alfa Bank theory as flawed. They also showed another expert, Manos Antonakakis, who reviewed the Alfa Bank-Trump whitepapers, had congratulated Joffe on crafting the paper to avoid the most glaring hole in the thesis.

The more devastating take-down of the Alfa Bank theory, however, came during Sussmann’s trial, when government cyber security experts testified of their review of the data, telling the jury they had quickly concluded the hypothesis made no sense. One agent noted it sounded “5150ish” at the time. He explained to the jury he meant that the individual positing the Alfa Bank-Trump connection sounded as if he “was suffering from some mental disability.”

Exposing Deep Intelligence Corruption

Beyond burying the Alfa Bank hoax as a crazy conspiracy theory, Durham’s investigation also exposed the scandalous way the theory permeated both the media and U.S. law enforcement and intelligence agencies. Joffe tasked two Georgia Tech cyber researchers, as well as employees at tech companies over which he had influence, with mining proprietary and sensitive government data for any connection between Trump and Russia to push the Russia collusion narrative. Joffe also held responsibility for providing the Alfa Bank data to Sussmann, who shared it with the Clinton campaign’s head lawyer, Elias, and Fusion GPS, with the group then plotting to push the tale to the media.

The evidence further showed that Sussmann then fed the Alfa Bank story to the FBI, lying to Baker at the time, prompting the FBI to launch an investigation into the supposed secret communication network. Meantime, Joffe provided a different FBI contact the same Alfa Bank “intel” while asking that agent to maintain his anonymity, thereby creating a problem of circular reporting. Special Counsel Durham also revealed that Joffe still risks prosecution.

As with Sussmann, whether Joffe ever faces charges or a conviction says nothing of the success of the Durham investigation. To date, the special counsel has succeeded in exposing Hillary Clinton’s role in the hoax—and that the Alfa Bank hoax was real and spectacularly scandalous.

Margot Cleveland is The Federalist’s senior legal correspondent. She is also a contributor to National Review Online, the Washington Examiner, Aleteia, and Townhall.com, and has been published in the Wall Street Journal and USA Today. Cleveland is a lawyer and a graduate of the Notre Dame Law School, where she earned the Hoynes Prize—the law school’s highest honor. She later served for nearly 25 years as a permanent law clerk for a federal appellate judge on the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals. Cleveland is a former full-time university faculty member and now teaches as an adjunct from time to time. As a stay-at-home homeschooling mom of a young son with cystic fibrosis, Cleveland frequently writes on cultural issues related to parenting and special-needs children. Cleveland is on Twitter at @ProfMJCleveland. The views expressed here are those of Cleveland in her private capacity.


Musk Says 2016 Hillary Tweet ‘Absolutely’ Disinformation

Musk Says 2016 Hillary Tweet ‘Absolutely’ Disinformation

Musk Says 2016 Hillary Tweet ‘Absolutely’ Disinformation

“I Am Indeed Out For Blood”


Elon Musk has waded into the Sussmann trial – tweeting on Friday that it’s “absolutely correct” that a 2016 tweet from Hillary Clinton was “misleading disinformation.”

A week before the 2016 election, Clinton notably tweeted “Computer scientists have apparently uncovered a covert server linking the Trump Organization to a Russian-based bank,” to which user @veespike asked Musk: “@elonmusk I have reported this tweet as misleading disinformation to the powers that be at @twitter. I would be interested to know if, when you receive control over the company, anything was done with this at any level. Pls advise soonest.”

“You are absolutely correct,” Musk replied, adding “That tweet is a Clinton campaign hoax for which their campaign lawyer is undergoing a criminal trial.”

Musk then asked Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal and top Twitter attorney Vijaya Gadde to weigh in.

Musk then got into an argument with a pro-Hillary account, “Tesla Facts” (@truth_tesla), which suggested Elon was lying.

The richest man in the world replied to several other people in the thread. He’s gone all-in folks.

*  *  *

Former Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook dropped a bombshell in court on Friday – testifying that Hillary Clinton approved the dissemination of allegations that then-candidate Donald Trump had a covert communications channel with a Russian bank, despite campaign officials not being “totally confident” in the rumor, according to Fox News.

Mook, who was called to the stand by the defense team for former Clinton lawyer Michael Sussmann, was asked under cross-examination about the campaign’s understanding of the allegations against Trump, and whether the campaign planned to release it to the media.

He told prosecutor Andrew DeFillippis that he was first briefed by campaign general counsel Marc Elias, who was a partner with Perkins Coie at the time, adding that he was told the data had come from “people that had expertise in this sort of matter.”

Mook said the campaign was not totally confident in the legitimacy of the data, but had hoped to give the information to a reporter who could further “run it down” to determine if it was “accurate” or “substantive.”

He also said he discussed whether to give the information to a reporter with senior campaign officials, including campaign chairman John Podesta, senior policy advisor, now White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan, and communications director Jennifer Palmieri. -Fox News

“I discussed it with Hillary as well,” said Mook, who added “I don’t remember the substance of the conversation, but notionally, the discussion was, hey, we have this and we want to share it with a reporter.”

When asked how Clinton responded, Mook said: “She agreed to that.

“A reporter could vet the information and then decide to print it,” he added.

And then of course, Hillary did this:

Of note, after previously denying the prosecutions request to include the tweet into evidence, he approved it on Friday.

Sussman has been charged with lying to the FBI when he told General Counsel James Baker in September 2016 – less than two months before the US election – that he wasn’t doing work “for any client” when he presented the Alfa Bank “purported data and ‘white papers’ that allegedly demonstrated a covert communicates channel” between the Trump organization and the Kremlin-linked Alfa Bank.

Special Counsel John Durham alleges that Sussman was in fact working for the Clinton Campaign and tech executive Rodney Joffe. He has pleaded not guilty.


(TLB) published this article from ZeroHedge as compiled and written by Tyler Durden

Header featured image (edited) credit:  Hillary Clinton/Orginal ZeroHedge article

Emphasis added by (TLB) editors



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Reluctant Witness Devastates Defense Claims In Special Counsel Criminal Case

Reluctant Witness Devastates Defense Claims In Special Counsel Criminal Case

Former FBI General Counsel James Baker felt responsible for dragging his friend Michael Sussmann “into a maelstrom,” yet remained “100 percent confident” that Sussmann had claimed, when providing Baker the Alfa Bank “intel,” that he was not there “on behalf of any particular client.” Baker’s testimony yesterday in United States v. Sussmann proved devasting to the former Hillary Clinton campaign attorney both in substance and in circumstance.

The indictment charged Sussmann with violating Section 1001 of the federal criminal code by telling Baker he was passing on the Alfa Bank information as a concerned citizen, not on behalf of any client, when in fact Sussmann represented both the Clinton campaign and tech executive Rodney Joffe. Earlier this week, during opening arguments, Sussmann’s legal team told the jury that prosecutors would be unable to establish what Sussmann actually said to Baker and would fail to prove the alleged lie “mattered.”

Yesterday, Baker proved Sussmann’s high-powered Latham and Watkins’ attorneys wrong when the former FBI general counsel testified he was “100 percent confident” that Sussmann had denied acting “on behalf of any particular client” during their September 19, 2016 meeting. “My memory on this point, sitting here today, is clear,” Baker told the jury.

Sussmann made the comments “pretty close to the beginning of the meeting,” Baker explained, noting it was “part of his introduction to the meeting.” Sussmann would go on to provide Baker with two thumb drives and several whitepapers, which Baker said Sussmann explained concerned “an apparent surreptitious communications channel between Alfa-Bank, which he described as being connected to the Kremlin in Russia, and some part of the Trump Organization in the U.S.”

Besides attesting to his 100 percent confidence level in what Sussmann had said, Baker explained to the jury his apparent earlier equivocation about Sussmann’s representations. When asked by lead prosecutor Andrew DeFilippis about his congressional testimony in which he appeared not to remember Sussmann’s statements, Baker told the jury he had not prepared for questions about his meeting with Sussmann and had not refreshed his memory at the time.

The transcript of his House testimony confirms that the congressional hearing’s focus concerned the Christopher Steele dossier and not Sussmann or the Alfa Bank hoax. Baker’s full testimony reveals he was a witness caught off-guard by a topic and attempting to recall the events while being peppered with questions.

Baker further testified on Thursday that “it wasn’t until Durham’s investigators began ‘homing in’ on meeting with Sussmann in June 2020 that he thought in detail about what Sussmann said about not having a client.”

A jury is likely to find Baker’s explanation believable given Baker’s belated discovery of a text message Sussmann sent to Baker the night before the September 19, 2016 meeting. “I’m coming on my own – not on behalf of a client or company. [W]ant to help the Bureau,” the text from Sussmann to Baker read.

Baker’s Thursday testimony also helped seal a second substantive point being challenged by Sussmann’s defense: the government’s claim that Sussmann’s alleged lie “mattered.”

As a matter of law, a lie must “matter,” or in legalese be “material,” for it to constitute a Section 1001 offense. To be material, the lie must be “capable of influencing a decision” of the government actor. While Sussmann’s legal team has told the jury that Sussmann’s alleged statement did not matter even if false, in his testimony yesterday, Baker explained several ways in which the lie “influenced a decision” of the FBI.

First, Baker testified that he would not have taken the private meeting with Sussmann if he knew Sussmann was working on behalf of the Clinton team. Next, Baker explained he had “vouched” for Sussmann, telling top FBI counterintelligence agents that Sussmann was a serious lawyer “who could understand the importance and validity of the information,” based on his belief that Sussmann was acting as a concerned citizen. The former FBI general counsel further explained that because Sussmann had brought the information to him supposedly on his own behalf, he treated Sussmann as a sensitive confidential human source and protected his identity from other agents investigating the data.

On cross-examination, Sussmann’s legal team challenged Baker’s testimony and attacked his memory. But the defense is unlikely to leave a mark on Baker’s credibility, and not merely because of Baker’s 100 percent confidence in the substance of his testimony. Rather, it is the circumstances under which Baker testified that render him untouchable.

Baker testified that he considered Sussmann both a friend and a colleague. When asked why he had not previously provided the special counsel with the damning text Sussmann sent him the evening before their September 19, 2016 meeting, Baker told the prosecutor (and the jury):

“I’m not out to get Michael. This is not my investigation. This is your investigation. If you ask me a question, I answer it. You asked me to look for something, I go look for it. To the best of my recollection, nobody had asked me to go look for this material. I had not recalled that he had texted me until I saw this text in March.”

Baker’s answer conveyed to the jury much more than an explanation for why he had only recently provided prosecutors with the Sussmann text: His response told the jury he is a reluctant witness, and that reality is much more damaging to the defense than Baker’s assertion of 100 percent confidence in his memory.

The jury is unlikely to forget that point because, in one of the few unforced errors coming from Sussmann’s legal team, defense attorney Sean Berkowitz made the mistake of highlighting the fact that Baker is a reluctant witness testifying against his friend.

In cross-examining Baker, who had earlier told the jury that testifying before Congress “was terrible” and “sucked at multiple levels,” Berkowitz asked Baker whether testifying against his friend Sussmann was also a “terrible” experience.

“This is more orderly,” Baker replied, reportedly pointing to his chair, “It’s terrible, but orderly.”

Sussmann’s legal team is unlikely to repeat that mistake today when it finishes its cross-examination of Baker, but the jury is also unlikely to forget Baker’s words—and the special counsel is unlikely to let them.

Margot Cleveland is The Federalist’s senior legal correspondent. She is also a contributor to National Review Online, the Washington Examiner, Aleteia, and Townhall.com, and has been published in the Wall Street Journal and USA Today. Cleveland is a lawyer and a graduate of the Notre Dame Law School, where she earned the Hoynes Prize—the law school’s highest honor. She later served for nearly 25 years as a permanent law clerk for a federal appellate judge on the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals. Cleveland is a former full-time university faculty member and now teaches as an adjunct from time to time. As a stay-at-home homeschooling mom of a young son with cystic fibrosis, Cleveland frequently writes on cultural issues related to parenting and special-needs children. Cleveland is on Twitter at @ProfMJCleveland. The views expressed here are those of Cleveland in her private capacity.


Michael Sussmann Defense Contradicts Itself On Another Key Argument

Rodney Joffe, the tech executive responsible for giving the Hillary Clinton campaign the data used to peddle the Alfa Bank hoax, served as a confidential human source for the FBI. Yet on at least one occasion, former Clinton campaign attorney Michael Sussmann admits relaying a tip from Joffe to a high-level Department of Justice official. That Joffe used Sussmann, and not his handler, to feed supposed intel to the DOJ supports the special counsel’s false statement charge against Sussmann, but whether the jury will learn of this fact remains to be seen.

Last fall, Special Counsel John Durham charged Sussmann with lying to former FBI General Counsel James Baker when Sussmann met with Baker on September 19, 2016, to provide Baker data and whitepapers purporting to establish a secret communications network between Donald Trump and the Russian-based Alfa Bank. Prosecutors claim Sussmann told Baker that he was sharing the information on his own, when in fact Sussmann represented both the Clinton campaign and Joffe.

Trial on the one-count false statement charge began earlier this week in a federal court in Washington D.C. Sussmann’s legal team previewed their theory of defense for the jury during Tuesday’s opening argument.

Sussmann shared the Alfa Bank data with the FBI out of a genuine national security concern and not on behalf of the Clinton campaign, they argued, telling jurors Sussmann wanted to give Baker a heads-up about an impending New York Times story. That was not something the Clinton campaign wanted, Sussmann’s lawyers maintained—even though the facts don’t fit that storyline.

The defense team also rejected the idea that Sussmann was representing Joffe when he met with Baker, telling the jurors, “Sussmann wasn’t there to promote Mr. Joffe’s interests either.” “Mr. Joffe had nothing to gain from this meeting,” Sussmann’s Latham and Watkins attorney claimed in his opening argument.

From the jury’s perspective, that argument may well seem persuasive. After all, presiding judge Christopher Cooper has already axed one motive prosecutors hoped to suggest to the jury when he ruled pre-trial that the special counsel could not admit into evidence an email Joffe sent shortly after Trump’s November 2016 victory over Clinton.

“I was tentatively offered the top [cybersecurity] job by the Democrats when it looked like they’d win. I definitely would not take the job under Trump,” the email read. But, absent evidence that Joffe had, in fact, been tempted with a position in a Clinton administration, the email would not be allowed, the court ruled, eliminating mention of that possible motive.

The defense team’s argument that Joffe had no reason to use Sussmann to share the Alfa Bank information with the FBI also received a boost when trial testimony on Tuesday revealed that at the time of Sussmann’s meeting with Baker, Joffe was a confidential human source, or a “CHS,” for the FBI. Questioning by the defense team further indicated that in September 2016, when Sussmann was allegedly meeting with Baker on behalf of Joffe, Joffe had presented his handler, FBI Special Agent Tom Grasso, a copy of the Alfa Bank whitepaper.

Not only would there be no reason for Joffe to use Sussmann to push the Alfa Bank intel to the FBI but, as Sussmann’s attorney posited during opening argument, “If anything, if Mr. Sussmann had told the FBI about Mr. Joffe, they would have taken all of this more seriously, not less, given who Mr. Joffe is.”

This line of defense is eminently reasonable, but like Sussmann’s attempt to sell the jury on the claim that the Clinton campaign did not want him going to the FBI, the facts say otherwise.

In early 2017, Sussmann told a DOJ Office of Inspector General special agent in charge that an unnamed client “had observed that a specific OIG employee’s computer was ‘seen publicly’ in ‘Internet traffic’ and was connecting to a Virtual Private Network in a foreign country.” While Sussmann did not inform the OIG of his client’s identity, in January 2022, Sussmann’s lawyers informed the special counsel’s office that his “unnamed client” was Joffe. Sussmann’s legal team also alerted Durham to the fact that Sussmann had not merely shared his tip with a special agent, but personally met with Inspector General Michael Horowitz.

So, the precise scenario Sussmann’s lawyers told the jury was illogical, according to Sussmann’s own narrative of what happened in March of 2017: Sussmann, on behalf of Joffe, shared intel with someone high-up in the DOJ, without revealing Joffe’s role in gathering the evidence—something Sussmann’s lawyers stressed would have provided the data more gravitas given Joffe’s reputation. At that time Joffe, still served as a CHS, with his termination for cause only coming years later in 2021.

What possible benefit, then, was there for Joffe to task Sussmann with meeting on his behalf with the DOJ’s inspector general, as opposed to Joffe providing the intel to his handler? Who knows! Whatever the reason, we do know that Sussmann met with the DOJ inspector general on Joffe’s behalf, without revealing his client’s identity—a scenario Sussmann’s defense claims is inconceivable.

Sussmann’s meeting with the CIA in February 2017 also follows this pattern, with Sussmann allegedly sharing supposed intel of a connection between the Russian-made Yota phones and Trump, on behalf of the unnamed Joffe. While the trial court ruled the government may admit evidence related to this February 2017 meeting with the CIA in Sussmann’s trial, the problem for prosecutors is that they must still convince the jury that Sussmann represented Joffe during the CIA meeting.

The special counsel does not face that hurdle, however, on Sussmann’s meeting with the DOJ’s inspector general, because it was Sussmann’s legal team who alerted prosecutors to the fact that Sussmann had met with the inspector general on behalf of Joffe.

Sussmann taking Joffe’s intel anonymously to the DOJ’s OIG supports the prosecutor’s argument that when Sussmann met with Baker on September 19, 2016, he was likely representing an unnamed Joffe. But whether the special counsel will seek to admit this evidence remains to be seen.

Margot Cleveland is The Federalist’s senior legal correspondent. She is also a contributor to National Review Online, the Washington Examiner, Aleteia, and Townhall.com, and has been published in the Wall Street Journal and USA Today. Cleveland is a lawyer and a graduate of the Notre Dame Law School, where she earned the Hoynes Prize—the law school’s highest honor. She later served for nearly 25 years as a permanent law clerk for a federal appellate judge on the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals. Cleveland is a former full-time university faculty member and now teaches as an adjunct from time to time. As a stay-at-home homeschooling mom of a young son with cystic fibrosis, Cleveland frequently writes on cultural issues related to parenting and special-needs children. Cleveland is on Twitter at @ProfMJCleveland. The views expressed here are those of Cleveland in her private capacity.



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