Since 2019 Special Counsel John Durham has been investigating the legality of the FBI probe, officially known as “Crossfire Hurricane”, into allegations of Donald Trump’s collusion with Russia, which turned out to be unsubstantiated.
Durham has since indicted three people, one of whom is Hillary Clinton campaign lawyer Michael Sussmann.
The latest filing from the Special Counsel has revealed that in early 2017 the CIA concluded that evidence purportedly linking former President Donald Trump to Russia provided by Hillary Clinton’s campaign lawyer, Michael Sussmann, was “not technically plausible” and the allegations were untrue.
“Agency 2 concluded in early 2017 that Russian Bank 1 data and Russian Phone Provider 1 data was not ‘technically plausible,’ did not ‘withstand technical scrutiny,’ ‘contained gaps,’ ‘conflicted with [itself],’ and was ‘user-created and not machine/tool generated,’” stated Durham in the court filing.
While Durham does not specifically name the agency, it was earlier confirmed that Michael Sussmann met with the CIA around that time, reporteed Fox News.
In his filing, Durham was responding to objections from Sussmann’s defense regarding evidence that could be admissible at Sussmann’s trial, beginning on 16 May.
Sussmann has been charged with one count of lying to then-FBI General Counsel James Baker during a September 2016 meeting – less than two months before the presidential election – about then-candidate Donald Trump’s potential ties to Russia.
Durham’s original indictment alleges Sussmann had stated he was not doing work “for any client” when he presented “purported data and ‘white papers’ that allegedly demonstrated a covert communications channel” between the Trump Organization and Russia’s Alfa Bank. In actual fact, he had been presenting the dug up “dirt” on behalf of the Hillary Clinton campaign.
The allegations of Trump-Russia links had eventually turned out to be unsubstantiated.
While Trump had denounced the FBI’s RussiaGate probe as the “crime of the century”, Moscow denied any attempts to meddle in US domestic affairs during the 2016 election.
Ahead of his trial next month, Michael Sussmann had been trying to throw out evidence related to the gathering of DNS data by a tech executive, identified as Rodney Joffe, who worked with the Hillary Clinton campaign lawyer. Defence attorneys for Sussmann claim the data is irrelevant to their client’s charges.
However, Durham argued in the filing, posted Saturday, that the DNS evidence is “a necessary factual backdrop to the charged conduct” that will serve to prove “existence of the defendant’s attorney-client relationships with” Joffe and the Hillary Clinton campaign.
The Special Counsel added that the information would also reveal how the FBI and CIA used government resources to probe Sussmann’s claims without being aware that it came from a rival political campaign.
“Evidence concerning the steps the FBI and Agency-2 took to investigate these matters is critical to establishing materiality because it will enable the jury to evaluate those steps, which, in turn, will inform their conclusions about whether the defendant’s alleged false statements were material and could tend to influence or impair government functions,” wrote John Durham.
John Durham was appointed in 2019 to determine if the FBI’s inquiry into the allegations of Donald Trump’s “collusion” with Moscow ahead of the 2016 US presidential election was legal. The probe was kicked off when then-Attorney General William Barr told the special counsel to lead a review into the “Russiagate” probe after the US Justice Department released a redacted version of then-Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report.
The latter had summarised the outcome of his own probe into allegations of the Trump-Russia collusion and Moscow’s alleged interference in the 2016 US election. Mueller’s investigation found insufficient evidence of collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign.
Thus, as part of Durham’s current investigation, it was revealed in February that Domain Name System (DNS) traffic was “exploited” by Sussmann and Joffe to dig up dirt on then-Republican presidential hopeful by hacking into “a particular healthcare provider, Trump Tower, Donald Trump’s Central Park West apartment building, and the Executive Office of the President of the United States (EOP).”
According to Durham, his investigation has focused on the connection between Sussmann and the discredited anti-Trump dossier, authored by ex-British Intelligence agent Christopher Steele and commissioned by opposition research firm Fusion GPS.
Furthermore, the Democratic National Committee and the Hillary Clinton campaign had funded the anti-Trump dossier through law firm Perkins Coie.
In his court filing, the Special Counsel says that Michael Sussmann met in the summer of 2016 with Christopher Steele at the Perkins Coie offices to tell him about the Alfa Bank allegations. After that encounter, staff from the “US Investigative Firm” (identified as Fusion GPS by a Fox News report), tasked Steele to “research and produce intelligence reports” about Alfa Bank, “which he did.”
Durham asserts that Sussmann “represented and worked for the Clinton campaign in connection with its broader opposition research efforts” and “took steps to integrate” the Alfa Bank allegations “into those opposition research efforts.”
According to Durham, the evidence is “highly probative” as establishing that Sussmann “represented and worked for the Clinton campaign with its broader opposition research efforts.”
“The fact that FBI headquarters received on the same date both sets of information involving the same political campaign (Clinton campaign), the same law firm [Perkins Coie] and the same investigative firm [Fusion GPS] makes Steele’s involvement in these matters relevant,” said Durham.
While Sussmann’s defense has sought to obtain immunity to Tech Executive 1(Rodney Joffe), according to John Durham’s filing, Joffe is “a subject” of the investigation and has been since prior to Sussmann’s 2021 indictment.
Durham revealed that the trial would see the government offer redacted, non-privileged documents containing communications between Sussmann and Joffe as well as redacted billing records reflecting Sussmann’s work “on behalf of the Clinton campaign” and Joffe.
To date, Durham has indicted three people as part of his investigation, Michael Sussmann in September 2021, Igor Danchenko in November 2021 and Kevin Clinesmith in August 2020.
Danchenko is accused of lying to the FBI regarding the source of information provided by him to Christopher Steele for the anti-Trump dossier.
Kevin Clinesmith was similarly charged with making a false statement.