What Durham Might Be Looking At

Last night, the NYT and other outlets reported that the Durham probe has become a criminal investigation. While no outlets have reported precisely what crime Durham might be investigating, the news comes amid other news that may provide a clue. (I’m posting this without links for now, but will go back and try to add links later.)

Thus far, only a coerced Ukraine has fueled the foreign conspiracy theories

George Papadopoulos has been tweeting that his conspiracies will soon prove true. But thus far, other countries disagree. Multiple outlets have reported that Italy told the US that they had no ties to George Mifsud. Australia has said that the US has mischaracterized what Alexander Downer did, implying that he simply documented something suspicious (Papadopoulos bragging that Russia would help Trump) that was later shared with the FBI. The UK has said they have nothing more to share beyond what they shared in 2016, a memo stating that Christopher Steele was honest and persistent if a little too inclined to chase sources (like Oleg Deripaska) who weren’t worthwhile.

The one thing that Bill Barr’s field trips have come up with so far are dated Mifsud phones.

In short, aside from the corrupt oligarch-backed former Ukrainian prosecutors, no foreign country is backing Papadopoulos’ theories.

Horowitz announces he’s still working on the FISA IG Report, which will be lightly classified

The timing of the Durham investigation becoming a criminal probe coincides with Michael Horowitz’s announcement, to Congress, that he’s still working on the FISA IG Report, but that it will just be lightly redacted. It’s possible, then, that he made a criminal referral out of the report, and Durham is investigating that.

I can’t think of any genuinely criminal behavior that I expect to see in the report, unless Horowitz refers either Glenn Simpson or Christopher Steele for false statements, the former to Congress and the latter in court filings.

If Horowitz’s report is broader than that, however, it might include other referred conduct, such as the leak of either the existence of a transcript between Mike Flynn and Sergei Kislyak (which Sidney Powell has alternately claim came from someone at Office of Net Assessment or James Clapper, the latter of whom is an Original Classification Authority) or that Jim Comey briefed Trump on the Steele dossier (a reference in Powell’s latest suggests she thinks Josh Campbell is the source).

Clearly, Durham is examining several circumstances of how Stzok opened the investigation, such as that (because they wanted to act quickly in the wake of the publication of the WikiLeaks emails) he opened it on a weekend, and signed the authorization himself. Recent reports say he has expanded his scope to include events that preceded Mueller’s appointment, meaning he’s clearly looking at events in early 2017.

Sidney Powell insists, again, her expert intelligence officer client got duped

As I’ll note in a follow-up, Sidney Powell has submitted her latest filing arguing that Mike Flynn should be let free as an honest child. In some ways, it’s a less ridiculous filing than her past efforts, as she actually gets around to making allegations. Effectively, she is submitting her opening brief as the reply, perhaps in a concerted effort to prevent the government from pointing out all the gaping holes in it.

Ultimately, it sill comes down to a claim that poor Mike Flynn, who all agree is an accomplished liar, couldn’t handle an FBI interview without lying and lying and lying.

And as part of that, Powell submits more information proving that, whatever Strzok’s alleged animus towards Trump, he still treated Flynn with almost too much respect.

In short, there may be real crimes he’s investigating, or reconsidering past charging decisions, especially leaks.

But at least thus far, Durham has spent six months without corroborating the main conspiracy theories about the investigation.

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27 replies
  1. klynn says:

    A little OT question:
    Has anyone investigated why McConnell refused to support Obama’s request for Mitch to lead a Congressional bi-partisan legislative effort to protect the US from Russian hacking and address the Russian hacking once the Netherlands shared their intel and video evidence?

    I understand the beneficial political game of why Mitch refused, I just have never heard if Mitch’s refusal was ever investigated.

    • Cat says:

      I highly doubt this has been investigated. Everything a congressperson does appears in this day & age to be protected under Speech&Debate clause. No matter how corrupt.

      • bmaz says:

        This is bunk. The Speech and Debate clause has been around since, oh, the day the Constitution was adopted. If you are not aware, it is contained in Article I, Section 6. And, no, it is not just “in this day”.

        • Jack Toner says:

          I believe he was referring to how the clause is interpreted. On its face it wouldn’t cover McConnell’s actions in this case but there may be a compelling legal argument that it should.

          Your snarkiness is inappropriate. Be serious here.

          • bmaz says:

            Hi there first time commenter “Jack”. I understand exactly what the other commenter was referring to. Secondly, yes, McConnell was acting in his legislative capacity as Majority Leader, and said actions are indeed covered by the Speech and Debate protection as it has been “interpreted”. They were disgusting and craven actions, but certainly within the general ambit of his legislative capacity. Lastly, we do not need any assistance from you. We are already “serious here”.

  2. Boy C says:

    Is the idea here not just about Flynn but to try and derail Stone’s upcoming trial? If they can’t dig anything up, then maybe they at least sow enough doubt for the jury that even if convicted it gives Trump some cover for pardons as the deck chairs are being shuffled on this sinking ship.

    • Boy C says:

      Yes I’m replying to myself but can DOJ claim they can’t hand over rédactions to HJC because of ongoing criminal investigation on the origins of the probe? Is this their real motive?

      • Vinnie Gambone says:

        Poignant observation Boy C .They now use ongoing criminal investigations to shield them from turning over information. Serves them well on the political theatre front and turns the table some too. The wing nut crowd will cream taking turns on fox talking about the criminal investigation. ad infinitum. That is all you will hear between now and the election. Doesn’t matter what they find. As long as they can say on TV there is an investigation the poor american voter is forced to weigh it .
        The russians won beyond their wildest dreams. The country couldn’t possibly be more divided. We have been wrong from the start calling what they did “meddling” . It was sabatoge and has succeeded, for now, in destroying our belief in government and hope for fairness. Fugly. Hurts watching people you know being so brain washed. What the heck kind of svengali voodoo bulshit is going on? Afraid to think that the divide in the american public is just as alive in the DOJ, and the State Department. Can the DOJ do no wrong ? Just keep concocting crap and repeating it. Good to see some stalwarts standing up from State. Is there no one left at the DOJ who will spill on Barr/Whitaker/ Murdoch. What the fuck Bill, next trip abroad just go see Putin and Deraposaka and ask them directly what you should do next and ask will they help. Creep.

        • skua says:

          You’ve got a very serious message there.
          The situation is not confined to within the American public and American government institutions – it is happening across much of Western civilization.
          Which only makes the US situation more dire.
          We saw with the Coalition of the Willing that many US allies were prepared to enable Trump-type malfeasance on a global scale. This ability of some US allies to be blind to stupidity will have grown since.
          I do urge you to reconsider, “The country couldn’t possibly be more divided”.
          Deeper division seems possible, and indeed has been a recurring feature of the nation’s history. Actions that address the cause of the division and the techniques used to create it are much needed. And every hand is needed for those actions.

  3. BobCon says:

    This thread suggests there is something related to procedures during the early stages of the Russia investigation:

    https://mobile.twitter.com/marcambinder/status/1187747657562951681

    If that’s true, it’s not clear to me how that rises to the level of a criminal inquiry. Maybe there’s some related question about telling the truth to investigators or the handling of classified material?

    The fact that this news is being leaked but without details on the heart of the matter says to me the issues are either fairly minor, in very early stages, or both. Maybe Barr’s team is trying to salvage some kind of news while they can?

  4. harpie says:

    Senator Mark Warner:
    https://twitter.com/MarkWarner/status/1187746347841212417
    8:02 AM – 25 Oct 2019

    Senate Intel is wrapping up a three-year bipartisan investigation, and we’ve found nothing remotely justifying this.

    Mr. Barr’s “investigation” has already jeopardized key international intelligence partnerships.

    He needs to come before Congress and explain himself.

    According to Emma Loop:
    https://twitter.com/LoopEmma/status/1187756467572621312
    8:43 AM – 25 Oct 2019

    Warner, vice chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, says Attorney General Bill Barr needs to testify before Congress.
    A spokesperson for Richard Burr, the committee chairman, is declining to comment on whether Burr would support bringing Barr before Congress.

  5. Vicks says:

    Could it be that this has nothing to do with a logical next step to anything and these puppets are simply following the orders of a revenge seeking president already under an investigation that may lead to impeachment for abuse of power?
    As it’s been said Nixon didn’t have a Fox News and I don’t believe Nixon had anyone as clever, corrupt or motivated with the power of William Barr either
    They need to demand he recuse himself from this and Ukraine.

  6. harpie says:

    Greg Sargent links to this EW post in the Washington Post:
    Explosive William Barr news points to Trump’s weakness and panic https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2019/10/25/explosive-william-barr-news-points-trumps-weakness-panic/
    Greg Sargent Oct. 25, 2019 at 10:12 a.m. EDT

    […] Given Barr’s apparent willingness to place law enforcement at Trump’s political disposal, it’s very possible Barr’s designs are maximally nefarious. But one can also imagine the criminal probe is of some intermediate matter. Marcy Wheeler runs through a few such posibilities, none of which appears all that serious. […]

    • fikshun says:

      The opinion piece isn’t overly dismissive but it’s more dismissive than it should be. The purpose of this investigation is to try to reinforce the support of 34 senators. Support for impeachment and removal is growing. Trump and Barr are trying to stem that momentum with fresh bullshit for the Fox News crowd.

      • David B Pittard says:

        I share that suspicion as it fits with what seemed important to Trump regarding Zelensky: a pubic announcement of an investigation … not an actual investigation itself, which would turn up nothing, I infer, but the announcement would give Trump a bone to chew on throughout the campaign; so this vague criminal investigation may serve a similar purpose for the GOP senators who want something to hang their hat on, since there seems to be nothing else.

        I also am dismayed to feel the confidence in Durham may be as misplaced as the confidence of the 30 or so people who wrote glowing letters of support for Flynn prior to his first sentencing hearing. I read them all and they convinced me that he was, except for his recent fall from grace, as pure as the driven snow, even an American hero, his character beyond reproach (except, you know, up to when he was fired as director of the DIA). Perhaps he was, but is no more. And so it might be for anyone, I am taught, including Durham. This is a miserable lesson in skepticism/cynicism that I think is too easily ignored.

  7. Re entry says:

    EW is a harbour in a tempest and for that I’m eternally grateful, however, Barr will dig forever TIL there is something or he’ll make stuff up, no?

    If it is moderately serious criminality why would it even be put out there? Doesn’t he/they need big guns at this point?

  8. Beth says:

    My concern is also Durham. He’s been traveling around the globe with Barr, strong-arming other country’s leaders, and has been described by WaPo as working “with Barr” (instead of independently and impartially) on this investigate-the-investigators investigation. What happened to him that he became a Barr-Trump flunky in a matter of days?

  9. Vince says:

    In regards to ‘investigating the investigators’ becoming a criminal investigation, earlier today Racist Donnie said:

    “I leave it all up the Attorney General and I leave it all up to the people that are working with the Attorney General who I don’t know.”

    You don’t know ? They are on their knees behind you, KISSING YOUR ASS.

  10. Tom R. says:

    Here is a simpler and scarier hypothesis about the Durham probe. This isn’t the whole story, but it could be part of the story. It’s worth considering:
    The goal is to destroy anyone who was involved in investigating the Russian attack on the 2016 elections, or defending against it. The motive is to discredit past work and deter future work in this area. The method will be to charge them with mishandling classified information.

    This method works because in a classified setting, it is virtually impossible to get anything done without exposing yourself to risk. Specifically, there is no authoritative oracle that decides what’s classified and what’s not. If it’s something that would endanger national security if disclosed, you have to treat it as classified, whether it came to you marked classified or not — or even if you just came up with it on your own. Conversely, if it’s an obvious fact, it can’t be classified. You have to use your judgment. Then, months or years later, Nurse Ratched comes along and decides it wasn’t obvious enough, and you get arrested. Even if you beat the rap, your career is ruined, and the legal fees consume your life savings.

    As Sun Tzu and others have pointed out, any large organization depends on trust. If that trust breaks down, the whole thing falls apart, irreparably.

  11. Kathleen says:

    During one of MSNBC’s Ari Melber’s specials on the Ukraine issue noticed Cofer Black was also on the board of Burisma

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