An op-ed published by The Hill on Tuesday lays out what makes special counsel John Durham’s ongoing investigation into the origins of the “Trump-Russia collusion” investigation significant.
The piece, by Kevin R. Brock, a former assistant director of intelligence for the FBI, an FBI special agent for 24 years, and principal deputy director of the National Counterterrorism Center who now serves as a security consultant, begins by noting that for a year and a half, the country did not hear much of out Durham after he was appointed late in former President Trump’s term.
Aside from indictments regarding “peripheral” figures, it looked to many of Trump’s supporters as though not much was going to come of Durham’s probe and “that elites higher up the stack are going to get away with their chicanery,” Brock wrote.
“The problem for Durham is that these perceptions were providing the Biden Department of Justice (DOJ) with increasing political top cover to shut down the special prosecutor’s office as an unproductive, politics-driven exercise in futility that is wasting taxpayer dollars,” Brock continued.
“If Durham were to be terminated, the American people might not even push back much since no one had a clue whether his investigation was bearing meaningful fruit,” he wrote.
Brock went on to note that Attorney General Merrick Garland has already moved to undercut Durham by undertaking measures to repair the reputation of former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe who had been fired during the Trump administration.
But, he added, Durham could not simply hold a press conference and divulge the inner workings and findings of his investigation. So instead, he used a rather “innocuous” court filing on Feb. 11 that actually contained a number of bombshell revelations, tipping his hand to his findings.
Tucked inside the court filing, John Durham laid out a good chunk of the case he’s building, and it was stunning. Durham revealed the outlines of a corrupt conspiracy by operatives linked to Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign. The exposed conspiracy allegedly made a contrived, fraudulent, and shocking attempt to entice the FBI and CIA to use their powers against the rival Trump campaign and presidency.
This recent filing by Durham was designed to have two effects. First, and most important, he has now made any decision by the president or attorney general to dump him much more difficult to undertake. The last time a president fired a special prosecutor who was making significant progress, he lost his presidency. [Our emphasis]
Second, Durham has signaled to the American people that his investigation has legs, despite perceptions of plodding inertia. He has provided hope that accountability in D.C. — rare as a MAGA sticker on a Prius — actually might happen.
Durham’s filing triggered hyperbolic conjecture on the right and nervous silence on the left. Don’t be distracted by reactions driven by politics. Look at the actual words Durham used; they’re troubling enough on their own.
Brock then honed in on the “Factual Background” portion of the filing in which Durham expounded on information that led to the indictment of Michael Sussmann, an attorney who is linked to Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign and stands accused of lying to the FBI.
Durham says that Sussmann brought information to the bureau in September 2016 in which he said proved there was a direct link between then-candidate Trump and Russia, in order to get the FBI to launch a probe. The special counsel said Sussmann falsely told the bureau he was not presenting the information on behalf of any particular client, when in fact, he was billing Clinton’s campaign for his time.
Sussmann’s defense attorneys now argue, in effect, that even if he lied, the lie would not be material because the information was valid. But the lie would be quite material because Sussmann allegedly was asking the FBI to expend costly resources to investigate his claims. If he concealed the clients on whose behalf he evidently was acting, as Durham charges, he would have fraudulently deprived the FBI of facts that would have helped the bureau decide whether it was worth investing taxpayer dollars on an investigation. Knowing Sussmann’s true affiliations was clearly information the FBI deserved to know.
In addition, despite the Sussmann attorneys’ assertions that the information he possessed was bona fide, Durham makes an interesting case why it allegedly wasn’t. At this point in the Factual Background section, he expands on the role allegedly played by “Tech Executive 1,” now known to be Rodney Joffe of Neustar, one of the country’s most powerful tech companies you’ve probably never heard of.
Durham’s description of Joffe’s alleged activities does not paint him in a good light. According to Durham, Joffe exploited Neustar data and other friendly sources to help him “establish … an inference and narrative” tying Trump to Russia — and that he allegedly did so to please “VIPs” within the Clinton campaign and its law firm. Sussmann happened to be Joffe’s attorney as well.
“Joffe, in this scenario, isn’t an independent whistleblower; he’s a partisan whistle maker. Durham could only know all this if either Joffe told him or the sources Joffe approached for help disclosed those conversations to Durham’s investigators. Neither reality can be comforting to those involved,” Brock writes.
“It is particularly damaging because, if true, Joffe appears to have unethically and possibly illegally turned over proprietary government data to a civilian third party.”
Brock concludes that given what Durham has recently disclosed, there are more than sufficient grounds to allow him to continue his probe.