Latest Indictment from Clinton 2016 Dirty Tricks Campaign

Latest Indictment from Clinton 2016 Dirty Tricks Campaign

Last month, Special Counsel John Durham announced the indictment of attorney Michael Sussman, a prominent partner in the 1,200-attorney DC law firm of Perkins Coie.  The indictment is the second stemming from various efforts to connect Trump campaign officials with either the Russian government or Alfa Bank.  The first, of FBI agent Kevin Clinesmith, resulted in his plea of guilty last January.  Sussman denies Durham’s charge.

Still, if the facts alleged by the Sussman indictment are accurate, this is yet more evidence of a deeply corrupt political class enabled by the mainstream media that are anything but disinterested.

To me, it was always one of the most jaw-dropping aspects of the Trump years that the political dirty tricks campaign by Clinton operatives against Trump in 2016 was treated as a non-event.  Somehow, using campaign funds to recruit the nation’s leading law enforcement agency in support of one presidential candidate and against another managed to be mostly ignored.  That that effort included a series of lies and misrepresentations to the press, the FBI and the FISA court seemed to be considered business as usual. 

Who knows?  Maybe it was; maybe it is.  But for those of us who cut the teeth of our political cynicism on the Watergate hearings and Nixon’s resignation, the Clinton campaign/Perkins Coie/GPS Fusion/Steele/FBI/FISA scandal should have been front-page news for years, should have been investigated and resulted in indictments.  That none of that happened (until now?) stands as mute testimony to the rot that eats away at the legitimacy of our federal government.  Compare the treatment of that scandal with that of Watergate and be astonished at how low we’ve sunk in 50 years.

That the news media generally managed to ignore what looked like one of the biggest stories of recent decades and therefore knowingly placed its thumb on the electoral scales in 2016 was and still is an outrage.  It instead opted to pursue the “Steele dossier” story for over two years into the Trump presidency, only to have Robert Mueller conclude that "the investigation did not establish that members of the Trump Campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities.”  In a nutshell, the U.S. press corps both turned a blind eye to the biggest story in recent memory but also gave its undivided attention to one that was a paid-in-full fabrication by an interested party and known all along to be exactly that.

While his law partner Marc Elias was promoting the Steele fraud, Sussman met with the FBI’s top lawyer, James Baker, in September to peddle a story that looked bogus from the start.  He claimed that there existed a “secret server” by means of which the Trump campaign could communicate and conduct shady dealings with Alfa Bank in Russia.  Most laughably, Sussman allegedly told the FBI that he hadn’t contacted it in the role of political operative, but merely as a private citizen concerned about political chicanery.  (That’s the basis for the indictment.) That, despite the fact that he billed the Clinton campaign for his time with the FBI and was presumably paid.

The FBI got to work and soon discovered that the server involved an entirely above-board mass-marketing email firm.  But of course that was three months after Election Day. The Wall Street Journal.

This Wall Street Journal article says it best:

Mr. Durham is not disingenuous for leaving out what we can also readily suspect: The FBI knew on the spot Mr. Sussmann was lying. He was well-known to the agency as a former U.S. prosecutor specializing in cybercrime and as a lawyer for the Clinton campaign and Democratic Party.

Let’s be realistic: Mr. Sussmann also likely knew the FBI knew he was not being forthright if, as alleged, he claimed he wasn’t working for a client; he may have assumed the FBI wouldn’t care about a small cosmetic lie if the purpose was the popular one of tainting Mr. Trump…

Mr. Sussmann had no use for a months-long FBI investigation that would turn up nothing. None of the above events would ever have taken place except to enlist the media’s help in circulating fabricated allegations about a political enemy. 

In short, Sussman appears to have concocted a false allegation and peddled it to the FBI.  The FBI knew that Sussman was a longtime Democratic operative and could easily have deduced that, shortly before Election Day, he was targeting not the truth, but the other side.  The FBI went along with the ruse knowing that, as the WSJ article points out, “Unsupported allegations aren’t reportable; the existence of a federal investigation is.”  And the MSM gladly reported the investigation into the fraudulent claim, a development both Sussman and the FBI could have predicted and likely did.  Given all that, it’s no surprise that “The first sentence of the indictment filed by the Justice Department’s John Durham refers not to Mr. Sussmann or his allegations but to their appearance in the New York Times a week before Election Day.”

Let me be clear: I don’t like Donald Trump.  I didn’t vote for him either time and, if he runs again, I’ll find another candidate or not vote, but my personal likes and dislikes aren’t the point.  The point is that the country’s leading law enforcement agency intentionally allowed itself to be used by one presidential candidate against another and the news media played along.  That’s mind-bendingly anti-democratic and countless Americans see it as such sowing increased cynicism about politicians, the electoral process and the press along the way.

This is not good.  We need a sustained, non-partisan investigation and very public takedown of those involved.  I hope Durham and his boss Merrick Garland are up to the task, but I doubt they are.  That’s because the task is not simply investigation and, where appropriate, indictments, it’s rebuilding the public’s trust in institutions of government, law enforcement and the news media.  It’s convincing tens of millions of Americans that justice is blind, that there are serious consequences for bad behavior, not just for them, but for inside-the-Beltway denizens as well. 

I won’t be holding my breath.

 

 

 

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