Durham Playing the Short Game — and the Long Game
Last Thursday, a grand jury indicted attorney Michael Sussmann, a partner in the Clinton-connected law firm Perkins Coie, on one count of providing false information to the FBI. If you didn’t see our story on Friday, here it is …
In this case, “providing false information” is a euphemism for “lying his fool head off,” which is the way I’d want to write up the charge. Special counsel John Durham’s full description of events makes it clear that nothing about his actions was inadvertent. Sussmann has pleaded not guilty.
Michael Sussmann’s Fictional Narrative
Sussmann met with James A. Baker, at that time general counsel for the FBI, to plant the fabricated “Russia Hoax” story about computer servers in Trump Tower and the Russia-connected Alfa Bank “pinging” back and forth. (He planted the same story with The New York Times soon afterwards.) When asked if he was talking to the FBI on behalf of any legal client, he did not disclose that he was working for the Hillary Clinton campaign. Billing records for Perkins Coie obtained by the special counsel prove that he was.
The Alfa Bank story was debunked as of September 2017, but that doesn’t mean the story didn’t keep turning up in the news and on social media, adding fuel to the completely fictional narrative that Trump had “colluded” with Putin to become President.
Alfa Bank sued British ex-spy Christopher Steele for libel in a London court — tell me, who does President Trump sue? — and Steele’s deposition in that case probably helped Durham immeasurably. Steele testified he didn’t know much about Alfa Bank — that’s believable; in fact, he had repeatedly misspelled it as “Alpha” Bank in his phony dossier — but that what he did know had come from … (drum roll please ) … Michael Sussmann.
The Short Game
Anyway, when the indictment became public, we wondered something: Why did Durham choose to tell so much of the story here? The indictment runs 27 pages, when it required just a few sentences. As it turns out, one of our go-to legal experts, Andrew C. McCarthy, noticed the same thing.
McCarthy divides the significance of the indictment into two aspects: the short game and the long game. In brief, the special counsel alleges that Sussmann, on September 19, 2016, made a false statement to FBI Special Counsel Baker at the FBI. That’s it.
But you’ll notice that September 19, 2016, is just barely within the statute of limitations of 5 years. That — not the timetable for the investigation as a whole — is what determined the date of Sussmann’s indictment. For Durham to be able to try Sussmann on the false statements charge, he could not have delayed past Sunday. Successful prosecution of that case is the immediate concern.
The Long Game
But then there’s the long game, and thankfully, Durham has chosen to tell us a lot about it. He’s communicating that he’s put the puzzle together. He knows. In McCarthy’s words, “The Trump-Russia collusion narrative was essentially a fabrication of the Clinton campaign that was peddled to the FBI (among other government agencies) and to the media by agents of the Clinton campaign — particularly, its lawyers at Perkins Coie — who concealed the fact that they were quite intentionally working on the campaign’s behalf, and that they did not actually believe there was much, if anything, to the collusion narrative.”
Sussmann was also apparently working on behalf of a cyber expert and powerful executive identified in the indictment as “Tech Executive—1.” That is someone whose identity we eagerly anticipate. For more details on that person’s role, here’s what McCarthy wrote for National Review.
Christopher Steele’s Connection to Clinton Lawyer Sussmann
Back when Steele was testifying in the Alfa Bank lawsuit filed against him, Chuck Ross at The Daily Caller was following that trial. Ross reported in April of 2020 that Steele, in his “investigation” of Trump, met with two Democratic National Committee lawyers, Sussmann and Marc Elias. He met with Elias in September of 2016, just a week after writing the fictional memo accusing Alfa Bank of “illicit” ties with Vladimir Putin.
I’ll bet he got a big pat on the back for that.
By the way, Steele lost in court and was ordered to pay damages to Alfa Bank. One would think the bank could have had quite a case against Perkins Coie as well, as they were apparently the ones who fed the phony-baloney “pinging servers” story to Steele.
In fact, Steele mentioned that in his own defense. Jerry Dunleavy of the Washington Examiner reported in April 2020 that “Christopher Steele claims Clinton lawyers fed him debunked claim about Russian collusion in 2016.” Guess that didn’t help him.
Don’t Expect to See This Story in the News
One frustration is that this is information we’ve had for over a year, some of it much longer than that, and it’s just now “formally” coming out. Even now, most of the media will give it short shrift. The very fact that it’s so long in coming gives the press an excuse not to cover it. Why? It’s old news!
But we did learn quite a lot about this story a couple of years ago from Andrew McCarthy’s magnificent book, Ball of Collusion, published in 2019. In Chapter 8, “The Brennan Clearinghouse,” under the subhead “The Mythical Alfa Bank Backchannel,” McCarthy outlined the whole story of Alfa Bank and the rush by “journalists” to cover that story a week before Election Day. This is highly recommended reading, along with anything else he comes out with about it, as he and this story go way back.
The Fable Created for One Big Headline
Eric Trump, who serves as executive VP of the Trump Organization, was on Sunday Morning Futures with Maria Bartiromo, and he said he “remembered this story like it was yesterday.” On September 29, 2016, he said, he got an email from The New York Times telling him of their fable about the Trump Organization having servers connected with those of the Putin-funded Alfa Bank. Eric replied that they did not. They said, “Yes, you do.” They told him they had a tip that was “very, very credible.”
Eric told Bartiromo that until Durham’s indictment of Michael Sussmann came down a few days ago, he “did not know the whole thing was actually done by the Clinton campaign.” They’d had no idea where it came from, he said. He said they and all their IT vendors had been working with the FBI for “a year, year and a half.”
The Clinton campaign was after one thing, he said. That was the big headline, “Trump Organization under investigation by the FBI for ties with Russia.” Eric pointed out that Pulitzer Prizes were won for perpetuating the lie of Trump/Russia collusion. (Is there anyone reading this who doesn’t think they should have to give those awards back?) “We all know now that it was funded by Hillary Clinton,” he said. “It’s an absolute disgrace. It makes our country look like a banana republic. It just shouldn’t have happened.”
You bet it shouldn’t have.
Mike Huckabee is the former governor of Arkansas and longtime conservative commentator on issues in culture and current events. A New York Times best-selling author, he hosts the weekly talk show Huckabee on TBN.
Originally published at MikeHuckabee.com. Reprinted with permission.