National School Boards Association Admits to Colluding with Biden Administration on ‘Domestic Terrorism’ Letter

The National School Boards Association (NSBA) admitted Friday to colluding with senior White House officials to develop a letter asking the federal government to investigate concerned parents speaking at school board meetings as “domestic terrorists.”

The admission comes after an internal review, which was prompted by significant backlash to the letter that led Attorney General Merrick Garland to sic the FBI on parents and use “counterterrorism tools” to investigate them.

Parents speaking at school board meetings across the country were primarily outraged by the revelations that their children were being indoctrinated with critical race and queer theories, as well as the draconian coronavirus policies that masked children and shut down schools, leading to significant learning loss and other developmental stunting.

NSBA investigators placed the blame for the letter — from their end — almost entirely on Chip Slaven, who at the time was the Interim CEO and Executive Director of the organization. Slaven worked closely with White House Senior Advisor to the President Mary C. Wall, who “had advanced knowledge of the planned Letter and its specific contents and interacted with Mr. Slaven regarding the Letter during its drafting,” according to the findings of the inquiry.

U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland testifies at a House Judiciary Committee hearing at the U.S. Capitol on October 21, 2021 in Washington, DC. Garland fielded many questions regarding first amendment issues related to school board meetings and efforts to prevent violence against public officials. (Photo by Greg Nash-Pool/Getty Images)

U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland testifies at a House Judiciary Committee hearing at the U.S. Capitol on October 21, 2021, in Washington, DC. Garland fielded many questions regarding first amendment issues related to school board meetings and efforts to prevent violence against public officials. (Photo by Greg Nash-Pool/Getty Images)

“In addition, evidence indicates that White House officials discussed the existence of the Letter, its requests, and the contents of the Letter with Department of Justice officials more than a week before the Letter was finalized and sent to President Biden,” the findings continue. “Ms. Wall requested an advanced copy of the Letter to provide to her White House and Department of Justice colleagues ‘to see if there might be any options we can pursue here.’”

The findings also claim that “the Letter initially received positive and cooperative feedback from the White House” but that “the Letter received significant political and media attention. As a result, the NSBA faces criticism for the Letter as well as a decline in its membership, posing challenges for the future of the organization.”

“In less than a week, Attorney General Merrick Garland issued a memorandum to federal law enforcement officials directing federal agencies to act consistent with relief requested in the Letter,” the report says.

During that time as well, others at the NSBA whom the findings deem “principal parties” were also involved with the concoction of the letter and it being shopped around to interested parties and media organizations.

Viola Garcia, who at the time was President of the NSBA Board of Directors, was quickly given a job at the Department of Education overseeing student progress.

Jason Amos, NSBA Director of Communications, “worked closely with Mr. Slaven and [NSBA Interim Chief Advocacy Officer Jane] Mellow to provide advance copies of the Letter to media outlets and to intentionally draw significant attention to the Letter both before and after it was publicly released.”

The day after Garland’s issuing of the memorandum, Biden himself called Garcia in a “fifteen-minute one-on-one phone call” and “thanked her for letting him know what was happening at the local level and for Dr. Garcia discussing the letter on television,” according to the investigation. Biden also invited her to visit the Oval Office, but investigators report that the visit never occurred.

Garcia was apparently reluctant to speak with NSBA investigators about the Biden call “because of the perception that the NSBA was ‘in cahoots essentially with the Biden Administration on this Letter.’”

House Minority Leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), Judiciary ranking member Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), Oversight and Reform ranking member Rep. James Comer (R-KY), and Education and Labor ranking member Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC) released a joint statement condemning the Biden administration.

“This report confirms that the Biden administration colluded with members of the NSBA to abuse the counterterrorism authorities of the federal government and investigate America’s parents,” the statement begins. “This entire episode remains an insult to parents. … Those who coordinated these unprecedented attacks on our families must be held accountable.”

The letter, however, was apparently “not authorized or approved by the Board of Directors or the Executive Committee” and “no one on the Board of Directors, other than the four officers of the NSBA, reviewed the draft” before being sent to Biden.

“The letter directly contradicts our core commitments to parent engagement, local control, and nonpartisanship,” current NSBA CEO and Executive Director John Heim said in a statement announcing the conclusions of the investigation. “The sentiments shared in the letter do not represent the views or position of the NSBA. The NSBA does not seek or advocate for federal law enforcement intervention at local school board meetings.”

One of the chiefly outrageous requests from the NSBA that fed into the negative reaction from parents and politicians alike was for the federal government to use the PATRIOT Act to prosecute parents. In an interview with investigators, Slaven said that “he edited the letter to clarify that the request to utilize the PATRIOT Act was not with regard to al Qaeda or foreign adversaries, but with regard to the fact that ‘we were concerned over folks here in this country.’”

The report appears to gloss over much of the parental concern with critical race and queer theories, however, saying the impetus for Slaven’s seeking the letter was in “response to the growing tensions at local school board meetings made manifest by the divide in public opinion in the then-ongoing debate about when and how public-school students should return to in-person instruction.”

“As a result of the NSBA’s internal investigation, the American people now know that Biden Administration officials did indeed work with NSBA on the since-retracted letter requesting federal intervention in school board issues,” Parents Defending Education President Nicole Neily said in a statement. “It is inexcusable that a senior White House advisor would have the audacity to collaborate on a public request to use the Patriot Act against families; this is, quite literally, a betrayal of trust by the highest levels of government.

“While a number of questions remain – including the extent of Secretary Cardona’s involvement in this scandal – it is our hope that the individuals involved are held accountable for this betrayal of public trust,” Neily concluded.

Breccan F. Thies is a reporter for Breitbart News. You can follow him on Twitter @BreccanFThies.

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Elon Musk Announces Intent to Assemble Litigation Department of Hardcore Streetfighters, Saying “There Will Be Blood”

Elon Musk Announces Intent to Assemble Litigation Department of Hardcore Streetfighters, Saying “There Will Be Blood”

In a series of tweets today, Elon Musk, the Tesla/SpaceX CEO, world’s richest man and tech billionaire who recently announced he is voting republican, announced his intent to set up what he calls a “hardcore litigation department” filled with “hardcore streetfighters” because “there will be blood”:

This announcement is bookended by Elon Musk’s deal to purchase the Twitter social media platform, a resistant internal company ideological adversary, and a warning from the political left with Business Insider publishing an alleged sexual misconduct story.  Indeed, it does appear that Elon Musk is preparing for a war that will likely include the Fourth Branch of Government as an adversary.

Additionally, Elon Musk is drawing attention to the corruption in the 2016 election by spotlighting the trial of Hillary Clinton lawyer Michael Sussmann.  Mr. Musk notes in his remarks that discovering the Trump-Russia collusion story was a hoax put together by the Clinton campaign, media and allies in government, “makes you wonder what else is fake.”

For CTH readers, and those who followed the series of events since 2016, the trial of Sussmann is not revealing anything we didn’t already know.  However, for people who did not follow the deeply corrupt construct, the Sussmann trial is creating a new awakening.

Musk notes he found out about it a month ago “and was blown away”:

We must remember the vast majority of people in the U.S. have no idea the scale of corruption that took place within the Trump-Russia and Spygate operations. This trial is becoming a vending machine for red pill distribution.

Also, perhaps keep in mind where you were a few years ago.  Imagine, as an example, all of these newly awakened people finally discovering and accepting the FBI are the bad guys.   It likely took many CTH readers multiple years and dozens of examples before that acceptance was grounded.

These are bitter pill acceptances, that eventually do lead to major changes in the social fabric and cohesion of a nation; but it’s a painful journey.

Final thoughts…  Do not dismiss the importance of what Elon Musk is doing.  In addition to introducing millions of Americans to something they are newly experiencing, this shift in cultural opinion is akin to Musk playing the role of John Galt and swinging the social control pendulum away from the government.

As we keep watching, do not forget to pause and notice there are many new social, cultural and political battles we are winning.

Be of good cheer, our assembly is growing, and we are gathering significant resources.

#ElonLegal

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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.

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Handwritten Notes From 2017 Show FBI Agents Mislead DOJ On The Trump-Russia Investigation

Handwritten Notes From 2017 Show FBI Agents Mislead DOJ On The Trump-Russia Investigation

Hillary Clinton’s campaign lawyer Michael Sussmann is currently on trial for lying to the FBI about his role in pushing data pertaining to alleged communications between Trump and the Russian Alfa Bank. According to Special Counsel John Durham, Sussmann lied when he brought that data to the FBI’s General Counsel James Baker as part of the Clinton campaign’s efforts to trigger an FBI investigation of her opponent, Donald Trump. Specifically, Sussmann allegedly wrote Baker a text message claiming he was not representing anyone in providing the information when, in fact, he was representing the Clinton campaign.

In a surprising move, Sussmann’s defense team last week disclosed three sets of handwritten Department of Justice (DOJ) notes of a March 6, 2017 meeting between high-ranking DOJ and FBI officials. Durham gave the notes written by DOJ officials Tashina Gauhar, Mary McCord, and Scott Schools to Sussmann’s team as part of Durham’s discovery obligations.

While the notes contain a one-line hearsay suggestion that may cast doubt on Sussmann’s earlier claim that he was not representing anyone, their broader significance lies in what they reveal about the FBI’s strategy in the months leading up to the appointment of Special Counsel Robert Mueller in May 2017.

In fact, the notes are the very first documents to have been released to the public that show what the FBI was telling the DOJ about the predication and status of the FBI’s Crossfire Hurricane investigation only two weeks before FBI Director James Comey’s shock announcement to the House Intelligence Committee on March 20, 2017, that the Trump campaign was being investigated by the FBI for ties to the Kremlin. It was Comey’s announcement that ultimately led to the appointment of Mueller.

The DOJ had a legal responsibility to supervise the FBI’s Crossfire Hurricane investigation, which, as a “sensitive matter,” placed special oversight and due diligence obligations on the DOJ and additional reporting and due diligence obligations on the FBI. The March 6 meeting was a key milestone in those due diligence obligations.

The FBI was represented at the meeting by three of its top officials: Deputy Director Andy McCabe, Counterintelligence Executive Assistant Director Bill Priestap, and Counterintelligence Deputy Assistant Director Peter Strzok. The DOJ was also represented by top-level officials, led by Acting Attorney General Dana Boente. Boente was taking the place of Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who had recused himself only four days previously.

The notes reveal a pattern of repeated lies and omissions by FBI leadership to DOJ officials that concealed the dramatic deterioration of the predicate for the Crossfire Hurricane investigation. As the predication deteriorated, so too was the purported justification for Comey’s public reveal of the Crossfire Hurricane investigation.

The significance of the FBI’s lies was accentuated this week at Sussmann’s trial when Scott Hellman, an FBI cyber analyst, testified that he knew right away in September 2016 that Sussmann’s data did not suggest any covert communications between Trump and Russia. Hellman added that he wondered if the person who put together the data was suffering from a mental disability.

Hellman’s testimony is the clearest evidence yet that the FBI knew from the start that one of the two major components of the Trump Russia collusion narrative – the Alfa Bank data – was false. As the March 6 notes show, they concealed this fact from their DOJ superiors.

The other major component of the investigation was the Steele dossier. The FBI knew from a January 2017 interview of Igor Danchenko, Christopher Steele’s “Primary Sub-Source” through whom all the allegations in the Steele dossier were originated or channeled, that the dossier too was false.

Danchenko’s most shocking revelation to the FBI was that he had never met Sergei Millian, the attributed source for the Steele dossier’s most inflammatory claims, including the allegation that there was a “well-developed conspiracy of cooperation” between Trump and the Kremlin, that Russia passed hacked Democratic National Committee emails to WikiLeaks, as well as the infamous Moscow pee tape story.

Danchenko, although a Russian national, was not “Russian-based,” as the FBI was claiming, but had lived and worked in Washington, D.C. for more than a decade, including at the Brookings Institute. Fiona Hill, a Brookings Institute stalwart, was a key supporter of Danchenko’s and had even introduced him to Steele in 2011. In 2016, Hill introduced Danchenko to former Hillary Clinton aide Charles Dolan. Danchenko would later use Dolan as a source for a number of his dossier claims.

Beyond the fact that Millian could not have been a source for the dossier, the FBI also learned from Danchenko that the dossier stories were based on bar talk and innuendo (Danchenko has since been charged by Durham with lying to the FBI about his sources).

The FBI appears to have concealed these matters from the DOJ. In fact, it does not appear from the March 6 notes that the FBI ever mentioned Danchenko. Despite Danchenko’s disavowal of the dossier as of March 6, it remained as the main component of the overall Crossfire Hurricane investigation, including being the basis of two Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act warrants against Trump campaign aide Carter Page.

The March 6 notes also reveal that FBI leadership told DOJ officials that the Page FISA application had been “fruitful” even though it had turned up nothing of significance. Page was never charged with, or even accused of, any offense and is now suing the DOJ for damages.

FBI leadership also pushed the narrative on their DOJ counterparts that the dossier was “CROWN reporting,” implying that the dossier was an official United Kingdom intelligence product when it was actually made-up stories and gossip and paid for by the Clinton campaign – a fact the FBI knew from their Danchenko interview.

The notes cite “CROWN reporting” in connection with collusion allegations on at least two occasions. In Strzok’s exposition of the status of Page’s case, the notes indicate that Strzok referred to “Crown source reporting” as a key element in the Page FISA warrant. This was already known from unredacted portions of the FISA applications that were publicly disclosed in 2020. However, what was not known was that the FBI also lied internally about these facts to their DOJ supervisors.

Similarly, the March 6 notes indicate that, in connection with the status of the Manafort case, Strzok had reported that, based on “CROWN reporting,” the FBI had “looked at [the Republican] convention” and allegations that the Trump campaign had caused the convention to “soften stance on Crimea and NATO” in exchange for “Russian energy stocks.”

In fact, there is no reference to allegations about Crimea or NATO in Steele’s dossier. Strzok attributed these false accusations to “CROWN reporting,” presumably to lend weight to them with his DOJ superiors.

With respect to “Russian energy stocks,” the dossier includes a false reference to Page receiving a brokerage fee for the sale of a Russian energy company but this allegation is not related to the convention but to the lifting of sanctions. Again, Strzok falsely portrayed this as having something to do with the Republican Party’s convention.

Additionally, the notes show that lead agent Strzok also lied to DOJ officials about the opening of the Crossfire Hurricane investigation. Strzok claimed the investigation was triggered by Trump when he jokingly asked Russia to publish Clinton’s missing 30,000 emails. It was Trump’s joke which, according to Strzok, caused the Australian diplomat to provide his tip about Trump aide George Papadopoulos to the U.S. embassy in London.

In truth, the diplomat provided his tip before Trump made the joke. Another fact that the FBI concealed in respect of the opening of Crossfire Hurricane was that their theory that Papadopoulos had advanced knowledge of the DNC hack was logically impossible. When Papadopoulos met the Australian diplomat on May 10, 2016, most of the hacked DNC emails hadn’t even been written yet.

Ironically, in analyzing why the FBI leadership felt compelled to brazenly lie to their DOJ counterparts, it appears that their hand was forced by Trump himself. Just two days before the FBI-DOJ meeting, on March 4, 2017, Trump tweeted he had found out that President Obama had wiretapped Trump at Trump Tower. Trump’s tweet was in an apparent reference to radio host Mark Levin, who reported on his show on March 2 that Trump campaign aides had been the subject of FISA warrants.

In a number of instances, the March 6 meeting notes reflect the FBI leadership’s befuddlement as to how much Trump knew about the FBI’s investigation of him. McCabe is cited repeatedly as having said that the FBI was investigating what was behind Trump’s tweet.

In reality, Trump’s tweet probably just restated what Levin had said. But the fact that the FBI did not know how much Trump knew meant FBI leadership had a choice to make. They could either downplay the investigation with a view to wrapping it up or they could double down even though they had not found any incriminating evidence.

They chose to double down, with Comey going on offense in the immediate aftermath of the March 6 meeting. Aside from giving narrative-shaping briefings to congressional leaders, Comey publicly disclosed the existence of the Trump Russia investigation, ensuring a media frenzy. That frenzy ultimately led to the appointment of Mueller on May 17, 2017.

While we have become accustomed to false statements charges being filed against Trump associates such as Roger Stone, Papadopoulos, and Michael Flynn, those same charges are also applicable to false statements or concealment of material facts by FBI officials to DOJ officials in the conduct of their supervision of FBI investigations.

It is perplexing that no one within the FBI has been held accountable for the many lies told at the March 6 meeting. This fact is all the more perplexing as it was Durham who originally turned over the March 6 notes to Sussmann’s defense team.

Former Attorney General William Barr had earlier turned down the opportunity to charge McCabe with lying during an internal FBI investigation of a leak related to the Hillary Clinton email investigation. McCabe had authorized the leak but lied about it. McCabe later apologized for lying to agents who were investigating the leak.

While Barr claimed it was a judgment call not to prosecute McCabe, his lies must now properly be seen in light of the FBI’s and his own pattern of lies, as documented in the March 6 notes. While the notes were only publicly released last week, they have been available to Barr, Durham and the DOJ for much longer. Yet no action was taken.

Crucially, public release of the notes came after the five-year statute of limitations had lapsed in March of this year. The question is why the DOJ — and Durham in particular — gave the FBI a free pass. The uncomfortable answer may be that, as has been suspected for a while, Durham’s authority is effectively limited to private actors such as Sussmann and Danchenko and does not extend to public officials such as McCabe and Strzok.


Hans Mahncke is in-house counsel at a global business advisory firm. He holds LL.B., LL.M. and Ph.D. degrees in law. He is the author of numerous law books and his research has been published in a range of international journals. Stephen McIntyre is a semi-retired mining consultant specializing in statistical analysis. He holds a B.Sc. degree from the University of Toronto and a PPE degree from Oxford. Steve is known as the founder and editor of Climate Audit, a website devoted to the analysis and discussion of climate data.

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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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Michael Sussmann Defense Contradicts Itself On Another Key Argument

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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Spygate Conspirators Start Selling Their Hoax To A Washington DC Jury, But The Facts Don’t Fit

The Hillary Clinton campaign did not want its attorney, Michael Sussmann, to share the Alfa Bank data with the FBI, jurors were told yesterday during the defense’s opening arguments in the special counsel’s criminal case against Sussmann. But the information known to date, as well as the modus operandi of the Spygate players throughout the years they peddled the Russia-collusion hoax, render this argument laughable.

On Tuesday, trial in United States v. Sussmann began in earnest following a day of jury selection. At issue is whether the former Clinton campaign attorney lied to former FBI General Counsel James Baker when Sussmann provided him data and whitepapers purporting to show the existence of a secret-communications network between the Russian-based Alfa Bank and Donald Trump. Special Counsel John Durham’s team claims Sussmann lied when he shared the Alfa Bank “intel,” saying he wasn’t acting on behalf of a client, while, in fact, Sussmann represented both tech executive Rodney Joffe and the Clinton campaign.

Prosecutor Brittain Shaw set the stage for the jury, telling the 12 jurors and four alternates during opening argument that “Sussmann’s actions were part of ‘a plan to create an October surprise on the eve of a presidential election’ and to get the FBI to investigate, arguing the plan ‘largely succeeded.’”

Sussmann and Joffe “leaked the Alfa-Bank allegations to the New York Times,” Shaw continued, but “when that wasn’t published immediately, Sussmann brought a sense of urgency to the FBI about the media being on the verge of running a story.” According to prosecutors, “the FBI getting involved would make the story ‘more attractive’ to the press” and “Sussmann’s goal was to ‘inject’ the FBI into a presidential election.”

Not so, Sussmann’s lawyer Michael Bosworth countered, telling the jury in the defense’s opening argument that his client “had a genuine interest in national security” and was concerned about the data at a time when questions about Trump’s connections to Russia were swirling. According to Sussmann’s team, the Clinton campaign planned “to take this new weird thing public,” and they handed it to The New York Times. That’s what the campaign wanted—press coverage that hurt Trump and helped Clinton.

“The meeting with the FBI is the exact opposite of what the Clinton campaign would’ve wanted,” Bosworth told the jury, suggesting “the FBI quashed the news story after learning about it from Sussmann.” “The FBI meeting is something they didn’t authorize, they didn’t direct him to do, and they didn’t want him to do,” Sussmann’s lawyers argued. But once the Times was ready to publish the material, Sussmann called Baker “to help the FBI” “and warn them that a story was coming,” the defense claimed.

The evidence on all fronts suggests otherwise. First, emails exchanged between reporters and Peter Fritsch, a co-founder of the investigative research firm, Fusion GPS, that Perkins and Coie had hired on behalf of the Clinton campaign, indicate the Times was nowhere near “ready to publish the material” when Sussmann handed it off to Baker on September 19, 2016.

For instance, in one thread between Fritsch and the Times’ Eric Lichtblau, bearing the subject line “alfa and trump” and dated October 5, 2016, the duo were discussing Alfa Bank data published on Reddit, apparently by April Lorenzen. At that point, Fritsch is still telling the Times he has “no idea” where the material came from, but that “it’s either someone real who has real info or one of the donald’s 400 pounders,” whatever that meant. Fritsch then adds that the “de vos stuff looks rank to me,” in reference to the supposed communications between the Michigan health system’s computer and Alfa Bank.

Another email thread from October 18, 2016 also indicates the Times was not ready to publish the story. In that thread, Fritsch is pushing Reuter’s Mark Hosenball to run the Alfa Bank story. When Hosenball told him “the problem is that the nature of the data is way above my level of competence,” Fritsch responds, “it’s everyone’s problem” and then suggests he call David Dagon at Georgia Tech.

Then, on October 31, 2016, hours before Slate published the Alfa Bank story, in promoting the about-to-break news to Reuters, Fritsch wrote the “USG,” meaning the “United States government,” is “absolutely investigating.” This email shows Fusion GPS knew the value an FBI investigation added to a story it was pushing for the Clinton campaign.

A second problem with Sussmann’s storyline that the FBI meeting was “the exact opposite of what the Clinton campaign would’ve wanted” because it caused the government to quash the New York Times article flows from the fact Sussmann did not originally tell Baker the name of the outlet supposedly poised to publish the story.

In his congressional testimony, Baker explained that after he handed the Alfa Bank material off to the counterintelligence division, they wanted “more time to evaluate it before the media started publishing stuff.” According to Baker, agents asked him to “go back to Sussmann and find out who in the media is going to publish this because we might want to ask them to delay.”

In his testimony, Baker was fuzzy on the details and did not remember whether Sussmann had mentioned the media having the Alfa Bank material during their initial September 19, 2016, meeting or only later during a follow-up conversation. (If the latter, that will really throw a wrench in Sussmann’s theory of defense.)

What Baker stated unequivocally, however, was that Sussmann had not originally identified The New York Times as the outlet supposedly ready to run the story, and that it was only later when Baker followed up with Sussmann that they learned that fact. The FBI then “went to the New York Times” and “started a series of conversations with them to try to get them to slow down,” he said.

If Sussmann’s goal were truly to provide the FBI with a heads-up of the impending story, as his attorneys argued yesterday, he accomplished that objective on September 19, 2016. To achieve that goal, Sussmann would have no reason to answer Baker’s follow-up question concerning the name of the media outlet ready with the Alfa Bank story. In fact, as a lawyer, he would have a good reason to refuse: It was in the Clinton campaign’s interest for the story to run.

But if Sussmann instead sought to spur the media into action, sending the FBI into the arms of The New York Times proved a perfect plan, as it made the Alfa Bank story more marketable.

Here, we see a third problem with Sussmann’s line of defense: From the Steele dossier to the FISA surveillance of Carter Page, the Clinton campaign repeatedly fed the FBI and U.S. intelligence agencies supposed “intel” on Trump, which it also peddled to the press. Then it used leaks of the government’s investigation into Trump’s supposed connections with Russia to drive more media coverage of the Russia collusion story.

Yet Sussmann’s legal team told the jury the FBI meeting was something the Clinton campaign “didn’t authorize,” “didn’t direct him to do” and “didn’t want him to do.” That line of argument presents prosecutors with the perfect opening to inform the jury of the Clinton campaign’s modus operandi, and it will likely do so with the questioning of Sussmann’s former legal partner Marc Elias, who is scheduled to testify later today.


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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Special Prosecutor Frames the Background of the Sussmann Case, The FBI Was Manipulated, Duped by Clinton Campaign

Special Prosecutor Frames the Background of the Sussmann Case, The FBI Was Manipulated, Duped by Clinton Campaign

New York Times narrative engineer Charlie Savage is tweeting from within a packed media center at the E. Barrett Prettyman courthouse in Washington DC for the government case against Clinton lawyer Michael Sussmann. [TWEET THREAD]  The mentions and notations, while skewed toward the self interest of media, give us a good insight into what is taking place in the courtroom.

First things first. All media reporting of this case will be done through the prism of their own cooperation in the perpetration of the fraud.  The MSM knew along with everyone else inside and outside of government, that their efforts to create the Trump-Russia conspiracy and collusion narrative were based on fraudulent pretext manufactured by the Clinton campaign.  They all knew it. They all acted collaboratively and they all engaged purposefully.

As noted by Charlie Savage, prosecutor Deborah Shaw, a member of the Durham team, delivered the opening remarks to frame the government position in the case.

The telling remarks came early: “Shaw addresses “the elephant in the room” – tells jury their feelings about Russia, Trump, Clinton can’t play a role in the case. This is about “our FBI” which should not be used as a tool by anyone, Republicans or Democrats.”  In essence, prosecutor Shaw is telling the jury the FBI were duped into the Trump-Russia conspiracy investigation by outsiders connected to the Clinton campaign.

That’s a critical baseline from the government we must understand and accept.  That baseline now indicates that none of the DOJ and FBI operatives involved in the fraudulent scheme will be held accountable by the Durham team.  “Our FBI should not be used as a tool by anyone,” yet they were, so sayeth the United States Government.

There you have it folks.  For those who tried to avoid the uncomfortable reality of the situation. The Durham prosecution has set down the cornerstone establishing the DOJ/FBI was used and tricked.

The prosecution cannot later turn toward DOJ and FBI officials who were victimized by the Clinton outside group, reverse the predicate motive of the prior trial, and then hold the DOJ and FBI legally accountable.

That’s that.

The Durham accountability focus is now narrowed to the Clinton team, starting with Michael Sussmann.

This outcome was always visible when we accept the totality of the Robert Mueller probe as an overlay into this entire scenario.  Put into a question I have asked for two years:

How could John Durham hold DOJ and FBI officials accountable for participating in the Trump-Russia fraud, when those same DOJ and FBI officials were part of the Robert Mueller cover-up operation? 

Answer, they can’t.   If Durham were to connect the conspiracy of the outside government and inside government collusion, he would be penetrating an impregnable firewall that would take down multiple DC government institutions simultaneously.

Durham is being permitted to give the illusion of accountability, but he was not authorized or permitted to expose the Dept of Justice, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, or any other institution.

The vehicles of our justice institutions are rusted and broken.

Bill Barr was the Bondo application.  John Durham is the spray paint.

The question asked two years ago is answered.

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