Durham Indictment of Trump's Russia Enemies Is Falling Apart

Via:  Split Personality  •  2 months ago  •  25 comments

By:   Jonathan Chait (Intelligencer)

Durham Indictment of Trump's Russia Enemies Is Falling Apart
John Durham indicted Michael Sussmann for allegedly lying to the FBI about his leads on Donald Trump's ties to Russia in 2016. But Durham's indictment left out key facts to make Sussmann's experts look like they were lying.

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S E E D E D   C O N T E N T

When Donald Trump's attorney general appointed John Durham to investigate what Trump insisted was a deep-state conspiracy against him, a question hovered: What exactly was Durham thinking? Durham had a respectable resume as a prosecutor in a career that did not seem to lead straight into a role as Trump's Roy Cohn.

Was he simply accepting the role out of diligence and the understanding that, if he found no crimes, he could put Trump's absurd charges to rest? Or — unlikely but possible — would he uncover real proof of a criminal conspiracy at the FBI to undermine Trump? Or had Durham undergone the same Fox News-induced brain melt that has turned figures like Barr, Giuliani, and many others into authoritarian conspiracy theorists?

In the wake of Durham's first and perhaps only indictment, we can safely rule out the first two explanations.

Durham's indictment does not even allege that the FBI committed any wrongdoing. Instead, it charges that the FBI was lied to — by Michael Sussmann, a lawyer who passed on leads about Trump's ties to Russia that the bureau was unable to verify. Durham's indictment claims Sussmann committed perjury by denying he was working for the Clinton campaign at the time he brought his information about Trump to the FBI in 2016.

The first weakness in the indictment is that even if every word Durham writes is true, the charge he has amounts to a very, very small molehill. Interested parties uncover crimes all the time. There's just no reason to believe that Sussmann's relationship with a law firm working for Clinton would have made any difference to the FBI — which was already investigating Trump's ties to Russia and which wound up discarding Sussmann's lead anyway as a dry hole.

Second, the evidence that Sussmann lied to the FBI is extremely shaky. As Benjamin Wittes notes, the sole basis for charging Sussmann with perjury is the recollection by FBI official Jim Baker. Baker testified to Congress that he remembered very little about his conversation with Sussmann, i.e.:

Baker: [I]n that first interaction, I don't remember him specifically saying that he was acting on behalf of a particular client.

Jordan: Did you know at the time that he was representing the DNC in the Clinton campaign?

Baker: I can't remember. I have learned that at some point. I don't — as I think I said last time, I don't specifically remember when I learned that. So I don't know that I had that in my head when he showed up in my office. I just can't remember.

Jordan: Did you learn that shortly thereafter if you didn't know it at the time?

Baker: I wish I could give you a better answer. I just don't remember.

Yes, the "Jordan" who dug out the evidence that seems likely to undermine Durham's case is Trump superfan Jim Jordan. Wittes concludes, "It is hard for me to understand how a criminal case against Sussmann can proceed in the face of this testimony."

The perjury charge is merely the window dressing in the indictment. The meat of it — the part that has Trump defenders excited — is a narrative laid out by Durham attempting to paint Sussmann and the experts he worked with as liars who smeared Trump. That narrative part does not describe actual crimes, of course. Prosecutors can write whatever they want in their indictment. This one is like a Sean Hannity monologue wrapped around a parking ticket.

And even the "speaking indictment" portion of Durham's charge is falling apart now. Today, both CNN and the New York Times reported that Durham selectively quoted from emails in order to furnish a completely misleading impression that Sussmann's researchers lied.

The story here is that a group of computer scientists discovered evidence of communication between a Russian bank server and a Trump property. The computer scientists suspected, but weren't certain, the server might be used for some form of communication between Trump's campaign and Russia. (The reason they suspected this, of course, was the broad swath of shady behavior Trump exhibited toward Russia.)

Durham's indictment asserts that the computer scientists knew the data was innocent but sent it to the FBI anyway. What the Times and CNN reported today is that Durham supported this charge by clipping misleading segments of emails by the scientists when other emails undermined his accusation.

CNN reports:

Durham's indictment also portrays researchers working with [Rodney] Joffe as harboring doubts about whether the Trump-Alfa Bank information was anything other than innocuous email traffic. But the indictment cites snippets of sentences from emails, leaving out further discussion among the researchers that appears to show they firmly believed the Trump-Alfa Bank connection was suspicious and needed to be investigated.
The indictment cites one email conversation in which one of the researchers suggests narrowly tailoring their findings to make a "plausible" case that there was something worth investigating about Trump and Alfa Bank. The rest of the email — left out by prosecutors in the indictment — continues: "If the white paper intends to say that here are communications between at least Alfa and Trump which are intentionally being hidden by Alfa and Trump, I absolutely believe that is the case," according to the email reviewed by CNN.


Elsewhere in the indictment, Durham quotes an email sent to Joffe and others involved in the effort, in which one of the researchers wrote, "Let's for a moment think of the best case scenario, where we are able to show (somehow) that DNS communication exists between Trump and R[ussia]. How do we plan to defend against the criticism that this is not spoofed traffic we are observing? There is no answer to that" …
But additional emails reviewed by CNN appear to show that after expressing their skepticisms in late August 2016, the researchers expanded the scope of their research and believed they should show their findings to the FBI.

The Times has more examples of Durham taking messages out of context, such as:

The indictment quotes August emails from Ms. [April] Lorenzen and Mr. [Manos] Antonakakis worrying that they might not know if someone had faked the DNS data. But people familiar with the matter said the indictment omitted later discussion of reasons to doubt any attempt to spoof the overall pattern could go undetected.


The indictment says Mr. Joffe sent an email on Aug. 21 urging more research about Mr. Trump, which he stated could "give the base of a very useful narrative," while also expressing a belief that the Trump server at issue was "a red herring" and they should ignore it because it had been used by the mass-marketing company.
The full email provides context: Mr. Trump had claimed he had no dealings in Russia and yet many links appeared to exist, Mr. Joffe noted, citing an article that discussed aspirations to build a Trump Tower in Moscow. Despite the "red herring" line, the same email also showed that Mr. Joffe nevertheless remained suspicious about Alfa Bank, proposing a deeper hunt in the data "for the anomalies that we believe exist."

Whatever the truth is of the Alfa Bank matter — the Times reports that the computer scientists still don't feel satisfied they know the answer — Durham's case that the scientists knew they were lying is simply a preposterous smear.

Durham's indictment of Sussmann seems extremely unlikely to result in a prosecution.

The rest of it is a story about dishonesty.

But the dishonesty lies on the part of Durham himself.

His indictment proves only the willingness of many members of the right-wing legal Establishment to corruptly put their powers at the disposal of a liar.

Article is LOCKED by moderator [Split Personality]


jrGroupDiscuss - desc
Split Personality
PhD Principal
1  seeder  Split Personality    2 months ago
Since indicting Sussmann, Durham has subpoenaed more information from Perkins Coie, CNN and the Times report .

The Sussmann case has been assigned to U.S. District Judge Christopher "Casey" Cooper in Washington, D.C. Cooper "will likely weigh during court proceedings before a trial whether Sussmann disclosing his client to the FBI mattered," CNN reports . "If Cooper allows the case to move forward, he could kick that question to a trial jury."

Trump's Russia special counsel John Durham is misrepresenting mysterious Trump-Russia link, researchers say (yahoo.com)

The current POTUS and Administration are off topic, thanks.

Professor Principal
1.1  Tessylo  replied to  Split Personality @1    2 months ago

Thanks for posting this.  You beat me to it.  

We're still waiting on his indictments of the Obama administration!  jrSmiley_91_smiley_image.gif

His 'investigation' is lasting longer than Mueller's.  

Vic Eldred
Professor Principal
1.2  Vic Eldred  replied to  Split Personality @1    2 months ago

  [deleted   = Acquittal.]

Trout Giggles
Professor Principal
1.2.1  Trout Giggles  replied to  Vic Eldred @1.2    2 months ago

how long are you going to continue to use a photo of a loser?

Vic Eldred
Professor Principal
1.2.2  Vic Eldred  replied to  Trout Giggles @1.2.1    2 months ago

Remember, we had a deal.

Trout Giggles
Professor Principal
1.2.3  Trout Giggles  replied to  Vic Eldred @1.2.2    2 months ago


Split Personality
PhD Principal
1.2.4  seeder  Split Personality  replied to  Vic Eldred @1.2    2 months ago

Cherry picking the parts of emails that support a partisan position

and ignoring the rest of the email or subsequent emails which don't support said partisan position

is tantamount to lying by omission.

We see it everyday, sometimes in error, most of the time deliberately.

Durham should know better.

Perkin's Coie represents the DNC and by extension thousands of Dem candidates, State & Federal House members.

That should be common knowledge to even the newest FBI agent.

To say it's a weak case is a weak joke.

And until this week, Durham’s investigation had added exactly zero new facts to the public’s understanding of the FBI’s handling of the Russia matters. The only case he had brought—against a low-level FBI lawyer for altering a document in connection with a surveillance application—was entirely derivative of facts developed by the inspector general. Durham had, beyond that one case, issued no findings or reports and had charged nobody with anything. He had merely existed and, by existing, allowed expectations and conspiracy theories to swirl around him.

But now Durham has spoken on his own. He has indicted a cybersecurity lawyer named Michael Sussmann for allegedly making a single false statement in a conversation in 2016 with then-FBI General Counsel Jim Baker. The allegedly false statement concerned not Trump or Russia, but whom Sussmann represented when he brought Baker some information about an alleged electronic connection between the Trump Organization and a Russian bank.

(Disclosure: Baker is a personal friend and former colleague at Brookings and Lawfare .) 

Professor Principal
1.2.5  Tessylo  replied to  Trout Giggles @1.2.3    2 months ago

I'm so tired of looking that that trumpturdian loser face.  

Trout Giggles
Professor Principal
1.2.6  Trout Giggles  replied to  Tessylo @1.2.5    2 months ago

I was just thinking we're both going to get tickets but then I realized...this is MY group!


[Please read my comment below regarding this.]

Split Personality
PhD Principal
1.2.7  seeder  Split Personality  replied to  Trout Giggles @1.2.6    2 months ago



Trout Giggles
Professor Principal
1.2.8  Trout Giggles  replied to  Split Personality @1.2.7    2 months ago

Hello, My Old Friend! I've missed you!

Perrie Halpern R.A.
Professor Principal
1.2.9  Perrie Halpern R.A.  replied to  Trout Giggles @1.2.8    2 months ago

OK just a reminder. The rules of a group can be in addition to but at a min of the CoC, so you have to still mind the CoC, even in your own group. Only warning. 

Professor Principal
1.2.10  devangelical  replied to  Perrie Halpern R.A. @1.2.9    2 months ago

... yes dear.

Paula Bartholomew
Professor Guide
1.2.11  Paula Bartholomew  replied to  Split Personality @1.2.7    2 months ago

Now that is a face only a mother could love and it is awesome.

Professor Guide
1.2.12  1stwarrior  replied to  Split Personality @1.2.7    2 months ago

"Yezzzz - you want sumtin"??????

Professor Principal
2  Kavika     2 months ago

Did he give up on the Obama indictments?

Split Personality
PhD Principal
2.1  seeder  Split Personality  replied to  Kavika @2    2 months ago

A long time ago...

Professor Principal
3  MrFrost    2 months ago

He has successfully proven everything that the dems have been saying since the Mueller Investigation, up to and including that Trump, his kids and his friends are criminals.  

Professor Principal
4  JohnRussell    2 months ago

Unfortunately right wing conspiracy activity is a bottomless pit. They are already concocting conspiracies by the Democrats which explain why Durham has been such a miserable failure. 

Trout Giggles
Professor Principal
4.1  Trout Giggles  replied to  JohnRussell @4    2 months ago

He's a miserable failure because there was no there there, but he since he drank the kool aid he had to find something on somebody no matter how insignificant

Professor Principal
4.1.1  Tessylo  replied to  Trout Giggles @4.1    2 months ago

I wonder how much they're paying this loser Durham for his 'investigations'.

Split Personality
PhD Principal
4.1.2  seeder  Split Personality  replied to  Tessylo @4.1.1    2 months ago

Technically Durham retired at the end of February 2021 making $249,107.00 per year due to his long tenure, steps etc.

Presumably he continues to make the same salary until he closes this investigation. Not really sure.

That seems to be a conflict of interest that the DOJ should have reassigned to someone else if they want to continue the dig.

Freshman Silent
4.2  gooseisback  replied to  JohnRussell @4    2 months ago


Professor Principal
4.2.1  Tessylo  replied to  gooseisback @4.2    2 months ago


Professor Principal
5  JBB    2 months ago

Starting in 2014 and right up to election day 2016 Trump and Co were in secret negotiations with the Russian government to build Trump Tower Moscow going so far as to offer Vlad Putin the bribe of a fifty plus million dollar deluxe penthouse apartment...

Trump and Don Jr and Rudy Giuliani admitted this!

If that isn't proof of collusion you can kiss my butt...

That said, the CIA and FBI had to investigate Trump.


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