Federal prosecutor John Durham was assigned in 2019 by then attorney-general William Barr to get to the bottom of the FBI investigation of false allegations in the Steele dossier that Donald Trump colluded with the Russians during the 2016 election campaign.
Last week, Special Counsel Durham filed court papers outlining a second Russian collusion hoax promoted by a Michael Sussmann, a lawyer for the same Perkins Coie Washington law firm which had indirectly paid former British spy Christopher Steele to create and promote the opposition research document on behalf of the Clinton campaign.
The Steele dossier were based on unverified rumors and gossip were collected by Russian emigre Igor Danchenko, who is currently under federal indictment for making false statements to the FBI about the sources for the allegations he supplied for the Steele dossier, which became the most successful political dirty trick in American history.
Steele and the GPS Fusion PR firm, which had hired Steele at the direction of the Clinton’s Perkins Coie law firm, managed to persuade the FBI to accept the dossier as the blueprint for its Crossfire Hurricane investigation into the Trump campaign, which was led by notorious senior FBI agent Peter Strzok. The FBI then deliberately misled a federal court into accepting the dossier as solid evidence sufficient to issue a secret surveillance warrant on Carter Page, an innocent, low-level Trump campaign adviser.
After Trump fired FBI Director Jim Comey, in May 2017, the Crossfire Hurricane investigation became the basis for the two-year long witch hunt, conducted by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, which was unable to find any credible evidence to support the Steele dossier’s Russian collusion allegations against Trump and his campaign.
Clinton lawyer Michael Sussmann and his tech associate Rodney Joffe tried to use a report based on data Joffe took from Trump’s computers to convince the FBI to launch an investigation separate from the allegations in the Steele dossier. This was to be into Trump’s allegedly suspicious computer contacts with a Russian bank during the 2016 presidential campaign.
Sussmann is currently under a federal indictment for lying during September 2016 meeting with the general counsel for the FBI, James Baker, at FBI headquarters in Washington, DC. Sussmann presented Baker with a misleading analysis of data which Joffe’s cybersecurity company, Neustar, had obtained under a federal contract from computers in Trump Tower, Trump’s apartment on Central Park West, and White House offices. The analysis suggested that Trump’s computers had been in frequent contact with a computer owned by Moscow-based Alfa-Bank, which has close ties to the Kremlin.
HIDING THE CLINTON CONNECTION
Sussman told Baker he was providing the FBI with the report merely as a good citizen, and failed to disclose that he was being paid by a law firm working for the Clinton campaign. But the records from the law firm show that it “repeatedly billed the Clinton campaign for his [Sussmann’s] work on the [Alfa-Bank] allegations.”
The Neustar contract to monitor White House computers gave Joffe access to DNS records which reveal the IP address of every device with which those computers had been in contact. Joffe was then able to “mine” that data in a search for potentially suspicious contacts between Trump’s computers and Russian computers, which would support the Clinton campaign’s Trump-Russia collusion narrative.
Durham says that as early as July 2016, Joffe was “exploit[ing]” his “access to non-public and/or proprietary Internet data,” including “Internet traffic pertaining to …. the Executive Office of the President of the United States (EOP),” on Sussman and the Clinton campaign’s behalf. According to Durham, the “goal” was to create an “inference” and “narrative” about Trump’s alleged Russian contacts that would “please certain ‘VIPs,’ referring to individuals at [Perkins Coie] and the Clinton campaign.”
When the FBI followed up on the report that Sussmann gave them, it decided not to go forward with an investigation, because the computer server from which Joffe’s firm had mined the data “was not owned or operated by the Trump Organization, but, rather, had been administered by a mass marketing email company that sent advertisements for Trump’s hotels and hundreds of other clients.” In other words, there was no evidence that any mention in that computer’s data of contacts with the Russian Alfa-Bank had anything to do with Trump or his organization.
The September 2021 indictment also states that Sussmann tried to peddle the Alfa-Bank version of the Russian-Trump conspiracy theory to at least one reporter at the New York Times.
CLINTON SPREAD THE LIES HERSELF
Hillary Clinton was well aware of the allegations against Trump in the report which Sussmann gave to the FBI.
On October 31, 2016, during the final days of the 2016 campaign, Clinton issued a tweet to her followers claiming that “Computer scientists have apparently uncovered a covert server linking the Trump Organization to a Russian-based bank.” It was a follow-up to a previous Clinton tweet that day, which said, “It’s time for Trump to answer serious questions about his ties to Russia.” The tweet included four bullet points that alleged Trump had a “secret server” to “communicate privately with a Putin-tied Russian bank called Alfa Bank.”
That day, Mrs. Clinton also tweeted a statement from her campaign’s foreign policy advisor, Jake Sullivan, who now serves in the White House as President Biden’s National Security Advisor. Sullivan alleged that the “secret hotline may be the key to unlocking the mystery of Trump’s ties to Russia. It certainly seems the Trump Organization felt it had something to hide, given that it apparently took steps to conceal the link when it was discovered by journalists.”
A New York Times story published the same day as Clinton’s tweets noted that the FBI was aware of the secret server story, but had concluded that another investigation was not warranted because “there could be an innocuous explanation, like a marketing email or spam, for the computer contacts.”
ANOTHER EFFORT TO SELL A SIMILAR STORY TO THE CIA FAILED
Durham’s filing last week noted that Sussmann made a second effort, a few weeks after Trump took office, to sell the Russian collusion narrative, using “an updated set of allegations” based on additional data which Joffe had obtained using the special access his company had to the DNS records on Trump’s computers. On February 9, Sussman met with a CIA official, once again insisting he was not supplying the new report from Joffe on behalf of a paying client. The new report claimed there were suspicious contacts with Trump computers made through a Russian cellphone company, suggesting that Trump or his associates were using a rare, Russian-made smartphone called a YotaPhone, in an effort to hide the contacts.
However, the report Sussmann submitted to the CIA omitted the key fact that there had been a total of three million such YotaPhone contacts through that Russian mobile phone company in the US over the previous three years, suggesting that they really weren’t suspicious at all. In addition, the DNS data also shows that the YotaPhone contacts involving the White House had begun in 2014, three years before Trump took office, casting more doubt on Sussmann’s version of the Russia-Trump collusion theory.
In the end, the attempts by Sussmann to interest the FBI and the CIA in his claims of suspicious Trump computer and cellphone contacts with Russian sources failed, because the evidence Sussmann submitted in their support could not withstand close scrutiny.
While the controversy created by the unverified claims in the Steele dossier dominated the American national political narrative for the next three years, the suspicious computer contact allegations pushed by Sussmann never gained any traction and are likely to go down as no more than minor footnotes in the chapters of future American history books devoted to the Trump-Russia collusion hoax.
TRUMP VINDICATED AND OUTRAGED
Trump and his supporters reacted last week with justifiable outrage to the disclosures that his computer communications had been “infiltrated” by Clinton operatives. The former president issued a statement declaring that Durham’s filing “provides indisputable evidence that my campaign and presidency were spied on by operatives paid by the Hillary Clinton Campaign in an effort to develop a completely fabricated connection to Russia.
“This is a scandal far greater in scope and magnitude than Watergate,” Trump said over the weekend, “and those who were involved in and knew about this spying operation should be subject to criminal prosecution. In a stronger period of time in our country, this crime would have been punishable by death. In addition, reparations should be paid to those in our country who have been damaged by this.”
Trump has been claiming for years that he has been the victim of organized spying efforts by his political enemies, only to be accused by the mainstream media of making it all up. In March 2017, two months after he entered the White House, Trump tweeted, “Terrible! Just found out that Obama had my ‘wires tapped’ in Trump Tower just before the victory. Nothing found. This is McCarthyism!”
Trump was right about the spying, but wrong about who was responsible for it. Thanks to John Durham’s investigation, we now know it was the same law firm working for the Clinton campaign that produced the Steele dossier.
We have also learned that as part of the FBI’s Crossfire Hurricane investigation, it used a confidential informant, Professor Stefan Halper, to spy on two low-level advisors to the Trump campaign, Carter Page and George Papadopoulos, in a failed effort to find more evidence of Trump-Russian collusion, but came up empty. The FBI also sent an undercover agent, a woman who used the alias Azra Turk, to secretly record conversations with Papadopoulos, who had nothing of any value to the investigation to say.
Trump never let the point drop. In April 2019, he said, “There was absolutely spying into my campaign.” A year later, in August 2020, during his acceptance speech for the Republican presidential nomination, he said once again, “Remember this: They spied on my campaign.”
THE MEDIA NEWS BLACKOUT ON TRUMP CONTINUES
Trump tried to use the spying of his political enemies as a 2020 campaign issue, but the mainstream media wouldn’t permit it.
In an October 2020 interview on the popular CBS News “60 Minutes” program, Trump tried to raise the issue, but was immediately shot down by host Lesley Stahl, who insisted that the president would have to provide hard evidence supporting the accusation before he would be allowed to discuss it.
“There’s no real evidence,” Stahl said. “This is ‘60 Minutes.’ We can’t put on things we can’t verify.”
A year and half later, Special Counsel Durham has supplied us with that evidence — but far too late to do Trump’s first bid for reelection any good.
Meanwhile, the news media is now struggling for a way to suppress the facts that Durham has uncovered, in the same way it suppressed that evidence the FBI found on Hunter Biden’s computer proved that he had been taking advantage of his father’s political position to make money and sell influence, as Trump had long claimed.
After letting two days go by with no comment on Durham’s finding, the New York Times broke its silence by publishing a long and convoluted article arguing that there was no deliberate “infiltration” of Trump’s computers financed by his political opponents. The Times claimed that the data mining of Trump’s computers done by Joffe’s company was a routine part of the cybersecurity job it had been hired by the federal government to do, and that the DNS data used in the analysis Sussmann claimed uncovered suspicious Trump-Russian contacts did not involve any classified information, so no harm was done.
But Trump and his supporters strongly disagree. They are outraged that a lawyer for the Clinton campaign was able to get a cybersecurity expert with special government access to Trump’s computers, use that data against him by falsely suggesting it contained evidence supporting the Steele-manufactured Trump-Russian collusion hoax that was secretly paid for by another Clinton campaign, and then foist it on the FBI and the mainstream media.
WHEN WILL TRUMP’S SIDE OF THE STORY BE HEARD?
Donald Trump complained that the effort to impose a blackout on Durham’s revelations was yet another injustice and more evidence of blatant media political bias against him.
“The press refuses to even mention the major crime that took place,” Trump said in a statement. “This in itself is a scandal, the fact that a story so big, so powerful, and so important for the future of our nation is getting zero coverage from LameStream, is being talked about all over the world.”
Former House Intelligence Committee chairman Devin Nunes, who took the lead in publicly defending Trump against the unfair allegations of Democrats in Congress who were determined to destroy his presidency, said that Durham’s revelations confirm the earlier clues that he had found of the Clinton spying operation on Trump’s campaign.
“Democrat-paid operatives illegally hacked their political opponents’ communications during a presidential campaign and then did it again to a sitting president and the White House staff,” Nunes said. “These actions are characteristic of third-world dictatorships, not democracies. It is undoubtedly the biggest political scandal of our lifetime.”
But those Americans still relying on the mainstream media for their news are unlikely to hear that side of the still-ongoing political argument.