Special Counsel John Durham has now issued three indictments in his ongoing probe over the origins of Trump-Russia investigations.
Igor Danchenko, a Russian analyst formerly of the left-wing Brookings Institute think tank was hit last week with five counts of “materially false, fictitious and fraudulent” statements to FBI investigators throughout 2017. Danchenko was described as a primary source for ex-British spy Christopher Steele’s anti-Trump dossier — a Clinton campaign-funded collection of Russian and Democrat-fed rumors which derailed a presidency and wreaked havoc on America.
While many remain unsatisfied with Durham’s pace and lack of big names arrested, his charging documents nevertheless give us a detailed window into Russiagate. Danchenko’s 39-page indictment, Clinton campaign lawyer Michael Sussmann’s 27-pager, and FBI lawyer Kevin Clinesmith’s 5-pages depict extensive, criminal efforts to “get Trump” at all costs. Watergate, a third-rate burglary and cover up, was mild by comparison.
Here are my top 5 GOP lessons from the Russiagate indictments thus far:
Team Clinton was more involved than most realize
The plot thickens. Danchenko’s indictment references “PR Executive-1,” publicly confirmed by his lawyer to be Charles Dolan, Jr. a veteran of both Bill and Hillary Clinton presidential campaigns since 1992. Dolan is credited as a source for “one or more specific allegations” in the Steele Dossier to include fabricating GOP political gossip about Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort. Also per the indictment, Dolan visited Russia in June 2016 and stayed at the Moscow Ritz-Carlton, met the general manager and toured the presidential suite. Danchenko allegedly visited Dolan at the hotel, flew to Steele’s home base of London three days later, and then the salacious “pee tape” allegations in the infamous dossier were written.
Sussmann’s indictment describes a 2016 plot to allege a secret server between Moscow’s Alfa Bank and Trump Tower, noting Hillary Clinton’s top campaign lawyer “exchanged e-mails” about it with her campaign manager, communications director and foreign policy advisor.
Expect similar attacks in the future
Hundreds of other notable Russiagate hoaxers still haven’t faced consequences. If not for the Senate Judiciary Committee’s subpoena of over 50 current and former government officials last year, most in that group would remain anonymous. Sure, a handful were fired and disgraced like former FBI Director James Comey and top aides, but the vast majority weren’t. Some were even promoted to higher government positions where they serve today.
Meanwhile, it was ratings gold for CNN and MSNBC. The New York Times and Washington Postwon Pulitzer Prizes. The more sensational the claims, the better — even if false, misleading or utterly lacking context. As past is prologue, Republicans can expect similar attacks.
Get to ground truth early
Republicans must get to ground truth early when accused by Democrats of dubious-sounding scandals gaining traction in the media – it’s too late once the subpoenas start to fly. Staff lawyers need to conduct internal investigations quickly for an effective defense — including proactive outreach to those involved.
President Trump didn’t bother and the GOP usually seemed two steps behind. Both were sitting ducks as Democrat activists and government leakers colluded with leftist media to continuously rack up dishonest narratives in the headlines. It caused irreparable damage and only got worse each day. Simply shouting “fake news!” isn’t nearly sufficient.
Fight for your team like Democrats do
Democrats almost always fight like crazy to protect the ranks, e.g. Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Mr. Trump was the opposite. Dozens of his associates subjected to limitless investigations were typically left to fend for themselves, at best. At worst, Trump and surrogates even piled on to appease a mob which could never be appeased. Like the barbaric 1692 Salem witch trials, sacrificing people only fueled an even bigger appetite to hunt for more victims. Since the smug and self-righteous #Resistance couldn’t make anything stick to Trump, they aimed to destroy his supporters and smear him via guilt by association.
Republicans should now anticipate such ruthless tactics and build legal war chests to defend those who are attacked. Who wants to sign up for potentially 5, 6, 7-figure legal bills on their own in this environment?
Support and fund conservative media
It’s the best way to debunk leftist, anti-American agitprop and counter defamation of innocents. If not for about a dozen journalists at conservative media outlets like The Daily Caller who exposed the scams behind Russiagate, most people would probably believe crazy smears. A few brave reporters from the left also called out the insanity, yet since that made them pariahs among the liberal press, they’re now on their own writing for public donations via Substack.
In sum, with dueling visions of America’s past, present and future tearing at society, the political system will remain turbulent. Globalization, open borders, the pandemic, and deeply flawed education and entertainment industries create the perfect storm to sink the country. The GOP must be prepared.
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.