If Robert Mueller’s sprawling investigation into President Trump and associates for bogus allegations about a Russia conspiracy in the 2016 election was a Category 5 hurricane, John Durham’s probe into the corrupt origins of Russiagate has so far been a tropical depression.
Yet it’s also leaving some all wet. More should follow.
Democrat lawyer and former federal prosecutor Michael Sussmann of Perkins Coie, a law firm for Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, was indicted by a federal grand jury last week for lying to the FBI during a September 2016 meeting with then-General Counsel James Baker.
Sussmann, a cybersecurity specialist who had represented the Democratic National Committee over its reportedly hacked servers which it refused to turn over to the FBI, gratuitously delivered “data files” to Baker alleging a secret server connection between Moscow’s Alfa Bank and Trump Tower. It became one of many Trump-Russia conspiracy theories debunked long after the damage was done. Sussmann is accused of misleading Baker that he wasn’t there on behalf of clients. Even worse, his clients allegedly included the Clinton campaign.
Congressional testimony in 2018 shows Baker himself fell under criminal investigation for alleged leaks to David Corn of Mother Jones and Mike Isikoff of Yahoo News, Russiagate’s first two journalist instigators. He was subsequently reassigned and then retired.
While most people probably never heard of Sussmann or Baker, more have heard of Hillary Clinton’s campaign foreign policy adviser Jake Sullivan, the current White House national security adviser. Sussmann’s charges could lead to him.
Based on press statements, declassified government documents and congressional testimonies, here’s a short list of Sullivan’s Russiagate profile:
- On the Alfa Bank-Trump Organization server hoax, Sullivan fanned the flames with a press release tweeted by Hillary Clinton in October 2016 which noted, “…this could be the most direct link yet between Donald Trump and Russia”.
- On Russiagate origins, then-CIA Director John Brennan’s declassified notes of a briefing to President Obama and top advisers in July 2016 reference “a proposal from one of her (Hillary Clinton) foreign policy advisers to vilify Donald Trump by stirring up a scandal claiming interference by the Russian security service.”
- On Trump-Russia ties, Sullivan admitted during Congressional testimony in 2017 that he had met with reporters and producers from CNN, Fox News, ABC, CBS and NBC about his “suspicions” which were later exposed as conspiracy theories without evidence.
These were all lightning rods in the sabotage of a presidency through sparking limitless federal investigations and a years-long predatory media frenzy which overturned the lives of innocent people and their families purely for politics. Third world stuff.
So how can Sullivan be held accountable? How about the 200-plus other players in the government, media, activist groups, foreign spy networks, etc. shown by Washington, DC investigative think tank Capital Research Center to have fomented Russiagate?
Since Durham’s investigation remains open, Sullivan and Clinton campaign colleagues alluded to in the indictment: Marc Elias; Robby Mook; Jennifer Palmieri; plus many others, could still be indicted for conspiracy. It’s unlikely Sussmann acted alone. Facing five years in prison, he may implicate others. Also, some could be charged with process crimes stemming from the probe, just as Mueller ensnared several Trump associates.
Congress can impeach and remove federal officials over Russiagate, but unless Republicans take back the House and Senate in 2022, it won’t.
Beyond keeping Durham’s probe funded and alive, the surest path to accountability is for Republicans to match the increased tenacity of today’s Democrats. Some already have. Senators Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Ron Johnson (R-Wisc.) and Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) have aggressively dug into exposing the extensive web of Russiagate corruption, as have Representatives Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) and top aides like former DoJ prosecutor Kash Patel.
Republican Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley has vowed to block nominations for State Dept. and Pentagon officials until Sullivan and top colleagues resign over the botched withdrawal from Afghanistan. Thirteen U.S. service members were recklessly put in danger and killed; an Afghan aid worker’s family of 10 were obliterated by a drone strike meant in retaliation against ISIS-K; and countless Americans were stranded under Taliban rule. There must be meaningful consequences.
As the elections of 2022 and 2024 approach, Republicans ought to plaster photos of Sussmann, Sullivan, et al and their “achievements” all over campaign ads. The record speaks for itself.
Finally, people ought to wonder why Russiagate Hoaxers targeted their fellow Americans including a duly elected president and his team so viciously, yet are hapless against terror groups like the Taliban and ISIS-K, and soft on adversarial regimes in Iran, China and Russia. At best, it’s incompetence. And at worst? Voters can decide for themselves.
J.D. Gordon is a former National Security & Foreign Policy Advisor to Republican leaders Donald Trump, Mike Huckabee and Herman Cain. Previously, he served as a Pentagon spokesman during the George W. Bush Administration and is a retired Navy Commander.