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Mr. Durham is currently prosecuting a small fish, a sardine among the Lawfare sharks and killer whales of K Street, Michael Sussmann, for telling one measly lie to the FBI. Mr. Durham has been at this task for two years plus. That’s a long time to spend on a simple crime based on a few easy-to-get bits of evidence: a cell phone text, some emails, the testimony of one principal witness — and a pretext that no one ever took seriously in the first place: the punk-ass Alfa Bank conduit-to-Russia story.
So, in 2016, schlubby lawyer Michael Sussmann from Perkins Coie, the DC law firm representing the Hillary Clinton Campaign, asks for a meeting with his old DOJ colleague, Jim Baker, now General Counsel (top lawyer) for the FBI. He has some sensitive information that the Bureau might find interesting. He says he does not represent any particular client in the matter, he’s just stepping forward as a patriotic citizen. He emphasizes this point more than once, including a text, recorded in the digital cloud (uh-oh), the night before the meeting.
He comes in out of the swampy Potomac heat to Mr. Baker’s air-conditioned lair at 935 Pennsylvania Avenue and spins a tale about a Russian-owned outfit called Alfa-Bank with computer servers located in the vicinity of Trump Tower in New York City, which, he alleges, are being used by candidate Donald Trump to communicate with bad guys in Russia.
The story goes nowhere fast. The FBI discounts it. Turns out that Mr. Sussmann billed the hours spent on this folderol to Hillary for America, which, prima facie, indicates he was working for her campaign at the time. Six years later, he’s indicted. Anyway, perhaps unbeknownst to Mr. Sussmann, the FBI, in July 2016, had already ramped up an investigation into the Trump campaign with the sexy name “Crossfire Hurricane” — a lyric bit from the ancient Rolling Stones’ hit “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” — so anointed by FBI sexy super-agent Peter Strzok, who was at the time jumpin’ in-and-out of bed with colleague Lisa Page, legal counsel to FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe.
“Crossfire Hurricane” was predicated (depending on who you believe, and as yet to be actually determined) on various cockamamie stories featuring sketchy characters such as “Maltese Professor” (that is, CIA informant-and-operator) Joseph Mifsud, Australian diplomat and International-Man-of-Mystery Alexander Downer, Cambridge visiting professor (Ha! You mean DOD errand boy) Stefan Halper, and quite a few other slippery players all revolving around the previous FBI investigation, “Midterm Exam,” into emails “stolen” off of Hillary Clinton’s unauthorized private server located at her home in Chappaqua, New York.
The case had been summarily dropped by FBI Director James Comey — who, incidentally, had no authority to decide whether the “matter” ought to be prosecuted or not (that was up to Attorney General Loretta Lynch, an old crony of Hillary Clinton’s). But this began the FBI and DOJ “coup” or “witch hunt” that ran several years, involved scores of active participants, and climaxed in the malicious and fruitless escapades of the Mueller Investigation.
All of which brings us back to schlubby Mr. Sussmann, the sardine among sharks and whales — and to my theory of the case. Special Counsel Durham was appointed by AG William Barr to determine the origins of the giant hairball called RussiaGate. As you can see, the Sussmann matter amounts to an almost insignificant little thread of the greater scandal. Did Mr. Durham spend two-plus years on it, to the exclusion of a stupendous mass of seditious lying, deception, and roguery by scores of government officials? I don’t think so.
Now, Mr. Durham has brought the case into the DC federal district courtroom of Judge Christopher Cooper, appointed by Barack Obama. Judge Cooper’s wife, Amy Jeffress, is the attorney for the same Lisa Page of Jumpin’ Jack Flash fame. Meanwhile, several jurors seated in the trial revealed that they were donors to the 2016 Hillary Clinton campaign — something one might expect in a city that voted over 90 percent for Mrs. Clinton in that election. Mr. Durham must have known that prosecuting the case under those circumstances would be a slog.
Win or lose on Sussmann, I think Mr. Durham is using the case to test certain evidentiary parameters. I think he will turn around in the weeks ahead, perhaps during the summer, and bring indictments against many higher-up figures in the DOJ, FBI, and elsewhere in government on much graver charges bundled into a RICO rap, for the simple reason that RussiaGate was obviously a seditious conspiracy. Therefore, this is a conspiracy theory. Theories exist to be proven. Federal cases are brought to furnish proof. If I’m wrong about this, then the long Durham investigation has been a joke. Personally, I don’t think Mr. Durham intends to go down in history as a joker.
By James Howard Kunstler
James Howard Kunstler is a renowned author, social critic, and public speaker. He has written several books including “The Geography of Nowhere” and “The Long Emergency.” He has written for Rolling Stone Magazine, The Atlantic Monthly, and The New York Times Sunday Magazine, and has lectured at some of the most prestigious schools in the country, including Harvard, Yale, and Dartmouth. For more from Mr. Kunstler, please visit his website.
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