February 13, 2022 / by emptywheel


Kash Patel Knew, and Did Nothing, about the Latest Durham-Related Frenzy

As predicted, the latest Durham filing has jacked up the frothy right. It even led the Former President to claim these actions should be “punishable by death.”

But the oddest statement came from “Former Chief Investigator for Russia Gate [sic]” and current key witness to an attempted coup, Kash Patel, sent out by the fake Think Tank that hosts some of the former Trumpsters most instrumental in covering up for Trump corruption.

Taken literally (which one should not do because it is riddled with false claims), the statement is a confession by Kash that he knew of what others are calling “spying” on Trump and did nothing to protect the President.

Let’s start, though, by cataloguing the false claims made by a man who played a key role in US national security for the entirety of the Trump Administration.

First, he claims that the Hillary Campaign, “ordered … lawyers at Perkins Coie to orchestrate a criminal enterprise to fabricate a connection between President Trump and Russia.” Thus far, Durham has made no claims about any orders coming from the Hillary Campaign (and the claim that there were such orders conflicts with testimony that Kash himself elicited as a Congressional staffer). The filing in question even suggests Perkins Coie may be upset about what Sussmann is alleged to have done.

Latham – through its prior representation of Law Firm-1 – likely possesses confidential knowledge about Law Firm-1’s role in, and views concerning, the defendant’s past activities.

In fact, in one of the first of a series of embarrassing confessions in this prosecution, Durham had to admit that Sussmann wasn’t coordinating directly with the Campaign, as alleged in the indictment.

Kash then claims that “Durham states that Sussmann and Marc Elias (Perkins Coie) … hired .. Rodney Joffe … to establish an ‘inference and narrative’ tying President Trump to Russia.” That’s false. The indictment says the opposite: Joffe was paying Perkins Coie, not the other way around. Indeed, Durham emphasized that Joffe’s company was paying Perkins Coie a lot of money.  And in fact, Durham shows that the information-sharing also went the other way. Joffe put it together and brought it to Perkins Coie. Joffe paid Perkins Coie and Joffe brought this information to them.

Kash then claims that “Durham writes that he has evidence showing Joffe and his company were able to infiltrate White House servers.” Kash accuses the Hillary Campaign of “mastermind[ing] the most intricate and coordinated conspiracy against Trump when he was both a candidate and later President.” This betrays either real deceit, or ignorance about the most basic building blocks of the Internet, because nowhere does Durham claim that Joffe “infiltrated” any servers. Durham, who himself made some embarrassing technical errors in his filing, emphasizes that this is about DNS traffic. And while he does reveal that Joffe “maintain[ed] servers for the EOP,” that’s not infiltrating. These claims amount to a former AUSA (albeit one famously berated by a judge for his “ineptitude” and “spying”) accusing a conspiracy where none has been charged, at least not yet. Plus, if Joffe did what Kash claims starting in July 2016, as Kash claims, then Barack Obama would be the one with a complaint, not Trump.

Finally, Kash outright claims as fact that Joffe “exploited proprietary data, to hack Trump Tower and the Eisenhower Executive Office Building.” This claim is not substantiated by anything Durham has said and smacks of the same kind of conspiracy theorizing Louise Mensch once engaged in. Only, in this case, Kash is accusing someone who has not been charged with any crime — indeed, a five year statute of limitation on this stuff would have expired this week — of committing a crime. Again: a former AUSA, however inept, should know the legal risk of doing that.

Curiously, Kash specifies that the White House addresses involved were in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building. That could well be true, but Durham only claims they were associated with EOP, and as someone who worked there, Kash should know that one is a physical structure and the other is a bureaucratic designation. But to the extent Kash (who has flubbed basic Internet details already) believes this amounted to hacking the EOP, it is based off non-public data.

So, like I said, the piece is riddled with false claims, but with two claims that go beyond anything Durham has said.

The statement is all the stranger given that Kash Patel knew about these allegations four years ago, at a time when he was one of the most powerful Congressional staffers on matters pertaining to intelligence.

And he did nothing about them.

Well. He did do something.

He started this line of inquiry — brought it up entirely out of the blue — in an interview of Michael Sussmann largely focused on Sussmann’s response to a hostile attack by Russia.

About a quarter of the way into an interview on December 18, 2017, after Sussmann debunked the frothy right’s conspiracy theory about the DNC being unwilling to share information with the FBI (which was a central focus of the interview), a staffer veered away from that line of questioning and asked about other meetings. Sussmann answered the questions that someone interested in cybersecurity would have wanted to know: how does the government share information with a high-profile victim of a nation-state attack?

Q Thats helpful. Thank you Going over to – moving on from CrowdStrike and the FBI, did you ever have any interactions with any other government agencies in relation to the DNC hack, Russian involvement in the 2016 elections, or anything like that, or any members of any government agencies?

A So.yes. For the intrusion, I believe our contacts initially and for a while were only with the FBI. And there came a time when we got involved with the Department of Homeland Security, and had a variety of ongoing meetings with them for various purposes. We reached out to State officials, to the State — Association of Chief Information Officers from the States.

But that’s not what this staffer was interested in. This staffer was thinking big.

Q Did you meet with anybody else, any members of the Intelligence Community, either officially or unofficially, to discuss these matters?

MS. RUEMMLER: With respect to the DNC?

Q The DNC, the 2016 Russia election, all things that fit under that sort of general big title.

Sussmann, perhaps sensing this staffer was about to deliver a gotcha, noted that he didn’t always know who was in a room.

A So let me provide one general exception. I had meetings and calls with the FBI when there were a lot of people in the room, and I don’t necessarily know —

Q Yeah, I don’t mean that.

A — who was there.

That’s not what this staffer was after either. The staffer wanted to know about a meeting Sussmann had with the CIA.

Q I don’t mean the FBI. I don’t mean those big conference calls or anything like that. I mean, did you have any engagements with any members of the Intelligence Community, not the FBI, one-on-one, or in small groups, or telephone calls, or communications with folks, say, such as the Central Intelligence Agency?

Sussmann responded as to the subject of the interview, the DNC hack: no, all the meetings were with FBI or DHS. That’s when the staffer in question revealed he wanted to know about other topics.

A I think as regards to the I think all of the hacking ~ I think all of the hacking stuff was limited to the FBI and DHS.

Q Okay. So you never had any communications with members of the CIA [redacted] discussing the ~ not only the hack, but also the possible Russian intrusion and Russian involvement in the 2016 election?

That’s when Kathryn Ruemmler, representing Sussmann, referred to the staffer in question by name: Kash. This line of questioning was done by Kash Patel (which isn’t surprising, seeing as how at the time he was the “Chief Investigator for Russia Gate [sic].”

MS. RUEMMLER: Kash, just to clarify, you’re talking about the 2016 timeframe here? [my emphasis]

The staffer now identified as Kash continued, making it clear he already knew the answer to the question he was asking. He already knew about this meeting.

Q Well, that’s when that incident occurred. I’m asking if you ever have from that time until today?

A So I have — I have various contacts with members of law enforcement and the Intelligence Community on behalf of a number of different clients. So I’m not sure how to —

Q Sure. I’ll narrow it down for you. Fair enough. As it relates to what you and I have been talking about here today

A Right

Q –that is, the DNC hack, the Russian involvement in the 2016 election, and any information that was derived therefrom, did you meet or discuss with any members of the Intelligence Community outside of the FBI to provide information, talk to them about these matters? Did they reach out to you? Did anything like that ever happen in 2016 or 2017

With her client having been asked about a topic that wasn’t among the topics he had prepared to discuss or among the clients whose privileged matters he had gotten prior authorization to discuss and apparently worried about ethical issues, Ruemmler asked if she and Sussmann need to take a minute to confer.

MS. RUEMMLER: Do you want to confer for a second?

MR. SUSSMANN: I just want to talk about the range of – I have a lot of different clients, and since we’ve just spoken —

MS. RUEMMLER: As long as you don’t reveal identity of them, which You’re not permitted to do under the rules, or any content.

MR. SUSSMANN: Can we step outside and talk about how to deal with the range of clients?


[Discussion off the record.]

MR. SUSSMANN: Thank you.

At this point, if Sussmann were really hiding this stuff (as John Durham claims), he could have refused to answer the question, citing that privilege and the off-topic question. But Sussmann didn’t do that. He consulted with Ruemmler (something that Durham is now making a stink about), then came back in the room, noted that Kash had asked an off-topic question, but nevertheless answered honestly.

[The reporter read the record as requested.]

MR. SUSSMANN: So I’m not clear as to the scope of what you’re asking your question, but I’m going to be sort of more expansive in my answer, because there’s nothing — you said in relation to the things that we discussed today, and this is not something we’ve discussed today.

But I did have — I don’t believe I had — s0 two things. I don’t believe I had — I didn’t have direct contact with [NSA] butI can relate to you some indirect contacts with [NSA]. And I had a meeting [at CIA] as well.

That’s what Kash was looking for.


Sussmann explained, noting that this was classified.

A The [NSA] contact related to specifically my representation of the DNC, and my contact [with CIA] did not relate to my specific representation of the DNC, or the Clinton campaign, or the Democratic Party. And I also — I’m not — I will do the best that I can with you. I think there are limits to what I can discuss in an unclassified setting.

Kash asked about the CIA meeting.

Q Okay, fair enough. What was your contact [with CIA] about?

A So the contact [with CIA] was about reporting to them information that was reported to me about possible contacts, covert or at least nonpublic, between Russian entities and various entities in the Untied States associated with the — or potentially associated with the Trump Organization.

Q And when did that contact [with CIA] occur, month and year?

A February 2017.

Q Where did you get that information from to relay to [CIA]?

A From a client of mine.

Q Why did you go [to CIA]

After Ruemmler interrupted again to remind Sussmann not to violate privilege, he explained that he reached out on this front because he knew of Obama’s effort to get a review of potential Russian involvement in the election.

Q You did say, right, that you had — you’d received information from a client — I’m not asking who — that may be germane to the 2016 election and associates of the Trump campaign or people affiliated with the Trump campaign.

So my follow-up question was, why did you go to [CIA] with this information?

A Oh, I’m sorry. And I apologize. I remember what I was going to say. It was — it was, in large part, in response to President Obama’s post-election IC review of potential Russian involvement in the election. And in that regard, I had made outreach prior to the change in administration in 2016. And for reasons known and unknown to me, it took a long time to — or it took — you know, it took a while to have a meeting, and so it ended up being after the change in administration.

The line of questioning continued later with someone else, because Kash had to leave. In those questions, Sussmann factually answered the information came from a client he had represented before the DNC, and admitted he had the information prior to the election. He explained his motive for sharing the information with James Baker (which led the FBI to be able to intervene and prevent the NYT from publishing, something Durham didn’t bother to investigate before indicting Sussmann) and CIA. He admitted that Perkins Coie still represented the DNC when he met with the CIA, though he wasn’t doing work for them anymore. And, in a passage that will be a focal point of the trial, he described how he and Joffe decided together to share this information.

Q Okay. I want to ask you, so you mentioned that your client directed you to have these engagements with the FBI and [CIA] and to disseminate the information that client provided you. Is that correct?

A Well I apologize for the double negative. It isn’t not correct, but when you say my client directed me, we had a conversation, as lawyers do with their clients, about client needs and objectives and the best course to take for a client.

And so it may have been a decision that we came t0 together. I mean, I don’t want to imply that I was sort of directed to do something against my better judgment, or that we were in any sort of conflict, but this was — I think its most accurate to say it was done on behalf of my client.

In other words, Kash and his colleagues have known the outlines of this for over four years.

At the time, and in his next job at NSC, Kash would have had ready access to the CIA for more details about the meeting — indeed, he came into this interview knowing about it already.

At the time, and in his next job at NSC, and in his next job as DOD Chief of Staff, Kash would have had knowledge of Rodney Joffe’s contracts with FBI and NSA.

At the time, and in his next job at NSC, and in his next job as DOD Chief of Staff, Kash would have had access to the DARPA contract, which got extended afterwards.

In his comment, the Former President said that “those who knew about this” should be subject to criminal prosecution. And Kash Patel was, at all moments between December 2017 and January 2021, not only aware of the outlines and the players, but he did nothing.

Whatever else this kerfuffle has done, it has made Kash’s exposure as a witness in this case quite dicey. Because not only is Kash a witness that Sussmann was not hiding what he did, but he is someone who for years was in a position to do something about it, and he did nothing.

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Originally Posted @ https://www.emptywheel.net/2022/02/13/kash-patel-knew-and-did-nothing-about-the-latest-durham-related-frenzy/