OPINION: This article contains commentary which may reflect the author's opinion
For almost a year and a half, John Durham has been a special prosecutor – not too long, but long enough for people to begin to say he isn’t making much progress against his orders to look into the origins of the debunked Trump-Russia narrative that enveloped a presidency.
Donald Trump’s supporters fear that elites higher up in the organization will get away with shady behavior because most of his indictments have been against peripheral players.
As a result, the special prosecutor’s office was effectively being shut down as an ineffective, political exercise in futility that is wasting taxpayer money by the Biden Department of Justice.
If Durham were terminated for a reason related to his investigation, it is possible the American people might not even have much to say about that since no one knew whether his investigation was providing meaningful results.
Durham’s investigation was already compromised when Attorney General Merrick Garland took steps to restore the reputation of fired FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, a key player in the Trump-Russia debacle. Durham’s goals aren’t welcome by the Biden DOJ.
Durham couldn’t hold a news conference or write an op-ed touting progress. That’s not something investigators do when they’re in the middle of an investigation. Thus, he used something readily available – a routine, fair-minded court motion – to deliver a powerful message to both DOJ and the American people. His move hit home like nothing else. Everyone was caught off guard.
Durham outlined a good deal of the case he is building inside the court filing. Durham showed the outlines of a corrupt conspiracy orchestrated by Hillary Clinton campaign operatives. It is alleged that the exposed conspiracy attempted to connive, fraud, and shock the FBI and CIA into using their powers to harm the rival Trump campaign and presidency.
Durham’s recent filing was meant to have two effects. First and foremost, he is making it very difficult for the president or attorney general to get rid of him. There was a time when an American president fired a special prosecutor who was making significant progress, and he ultimately lost the presidency.
The second thing Durham has done is signaled to the American public that his investigation is running, despite perceptions that it is progressing slowly. It would seem that with the election of Donald Trump, accountability in Washington, D.C. might become a reality.
On the right, Durham’s filing was met with hyperbolic speculation, while on the left there were nervous silences. Don’t let political comments cloud your judgment. Take a look at Durham’s words, they’re alarming enough by themselves.
The words appear in a section of the motion titled “Factual Background.” Durham discusses how he came to indict Michael Sussmann, a lawyer associated with Hillary Clinton’s campaign, for allegedly lying to the FBI.
Durham says Sussmann presented information in September 2016 to the FBI which he claimed demonstrated a direct link between candidate Trump and Russia for the FBI to investigate. Nevertheless, Durham claims that Sussmann lied to the FBI, telling them he was not representing any client when, in fact, he was billing the Clinton campaign time for the presentation.
Defense attorneys for Sussmann argue, in effect, that even if he lied, the lie wouldn’t matter since the information obtained was accurate. In spite of this, the lie alleged by Sussmann would be quite material, since he allegedly demanded that the FBI expend costly resources to investigate his claims.
The FBI would have been deprived of information that could have helped the bureau decide whether it was worth spending taxpayer dollars to carry out the investigation if he had concealed the clients on whose behalf he was acting, as Durham claims. It was clear that the FBI needed to know Sussmann’s true affiliations.
Furthermore, despite the Sussmann lawyers’ assertions that the information he had was real, Durham makes a strong argument as to why it wasn’t. This is where Durham expands on the role claimed to be played by “Tech Executive 1,” who is now identified as Rodney Joffe of Neustar, one of the country’s most powerful tech companies.
Durham is not kind to Joffe when he describes his activities. Durham contends that Joffe used Neustar data and other sources to “build an inference and narrative” linking Trump and Russia, and this was done to please “VIPs” in Clinton’s campaign, as well as their law firm. Furthermore, Sussmann also served as Joffe’s attorney.
As a result, Joffe isn’t an independent whistleblower, but rather a partisan one. All this is only known to Durham if either Joffe told him or the sources Joffe sought for assistance disclosed their conversations to Durham’s investigators. This is neither comforting nor encouraging to those affected. Joffe’s activities appear to be the most damaging to those who may have been involved in a burgeoning conspiracy out of all the points raised in the Factual Background.
If Joffe did indeed turn over proprietary government data to a civilian third party, it would be particularly damaging. Also, Durham makes an impressive case that the data Joffe gave Sussmann for delivery to the FBI is incomplete and misleading. Further, Sussmann and Joffe allegedly failed to provide the FBI with context that would have helped to explain the sinister overtones of their actions.
An ordinary court filing has revealed that the Durham investigation is no laughing matter. The man has set up a ladder against a giant wall and is going up rung by rung in an effort to gain cooperation. He is also trying to gain testimony before a federal grand jury. Powerful people are likely to get nervous even more in the future, but John Durham needs to be allowed to carry on with his critical work.