John Durham Accuses One of His Key Fact Witnesses — Sergei Millian’s Twitter Account — of “Misinterpret[ing] Facts”

As I documented the other day, John Durham responded to the uproar over his conflicts filing stunt by claiming to have had nothing at all to do with the “third parties” who “overstated, understated, or otherwise misinterpreted facts contained in the Government’s Motion.”

If third parties or members of the media have overstated, understated, or otherwise misinterpreted facts contained in the Government’s Motion, that does not in any way undermine the valid reasons for the Government’s inclusion of this information.

The claim that the uproar was created by “third parties” is so obviously false it raises conflict problems for Durham himself.

Durham falsely claims those pushing lies are “third parties” to his investigation

As I laid out, one of the key perpetrators of the false claims — including the false claims (1) that Hillary paid Rodney Joffe, (2) that Joffe had “infiltrated” the White House, and (3) Joffe had done so when Trump was President — was Kash Patel, the originator of this entire line of inquiry in December 2017, and someone who for years had means to learn that those claims were false.

John Ratcliffe, whom Durham was meeting rather than interviewing Hillary staffers who could substantiate or debunk his accusations that Michael Sussmann was coordinating with the campaign, made these unsubstantiated claims in a TV appearance earlier this week:

  • There was a “Hillary Clinton campaign plan to falsely accuse Donald Trump of collusion with Russia”
  • Rodney Joffe used DNS data “for an unlawful purpose”
  • Sussmann “pitched” information “to the FBI as evidence of Trump-Russia connections that simply weren’t true and that the lawyer, Michael Sussmann, and the tech executive knew not to be true”

Donald Trump, who personally nominated John Durham as US Attorney and whose demands for criminal investigations led to Durham’s appointment as Special Counsel, asserted that his “presidency [was] spied on by operatives paid by the Hillary Clinton campaign in an effort to develop a completely fabricated connection to Russia.”

These are not “third parties.” These are:

  • The originator of the allegations against Sussmann
  • A self-described repeat Durham witness
  • The man who nominated Durham to be US Attorney and, ultimately, was his boss for almost 3 years

But there’s actually another key player in the effort to magnify Durham’s conflicts filing stunt who is even more central to Durham’s work: One of his most important “witnesses,” Sergei Millian’s twitter account.

The pipeline from online conspiracy theorists through former investigators to the former President

Yesterday, Glenn Kessler attempted to trace how the filing became a propaganda tool. The timeline he laid out looks like this (these times are ET):

11:33PM: Filing hits PACER.

12:43AM: Whispers of Dementia screencaps the filing, noting Durham claimed “Sussmann is likely to be in an “adversarial posture” against Perkins Coie.”

9:24AM: emptywheel notes that Durham is criminalizing lying to the FBI about traffic involving Trump Tower, which Trump himself did at the time.

9:25AM: Hans Mahncke links and screencaps the filing and claims,

Rodney Joffe and his buddies at Georgia Tech monitored Trump’s internet traffic *while* he was President of the United States.

9:39AM: Kessler’s gap

9:45AM: emptywheel RTs Mahncke and notes that this is about cybersecurity.

10:25AM: Techno Foggy tweets that,

DNC/Perkins Coie allies – Rodney Joffe, et al. – Joffe et al, “exploited a sensitive US govt arrangement” to gather intel on the “Executive Office of the President of the U.S.” They spied on Trump.

11:11AM: House Judiciary GOP [so a Jim Jordan staffer] RTs Foggy’s tweet, claiming:

We knew they spied. But it was worse than we thought.

11:44AM: Techno Foggy tweets out his Substack with the claim,

Clinton allies used sensitive data from the Office of the President to push false Trump/Russia claims to the CIA

Why did they risked jail to link Trump to Russia?

Maybe because the origin of their fraud was the “Russian hack” of the DNC.

2:27PM: John Ratcliffe responds to House Judiciary tweet with claim, “And now you’re finding out why…,” thereby seemingly endorsing the “spying” claim, and linking the Durham release with his own cooperation with Durham’s inquiry.

3:24PM: Mark Meadows RT’s Foggy’s tweet, claiming,

They didn’t just spy on Donald Trump’s campaign.

They spied on Donald Trump as sitting President of the United States.

It was all even worse than we thought.

5:51PM: Center for Renewing America tweets out Kash Patel statement making numerous false claims.

6:47PM: Trump’s spox tweets out his claims of spying.

This timeline is damning enough: It shows how these false claims went from “sleuths” who spend much of their time spinning Durham’s conspiracy theories, through Techno Foggy (a self-described lawyer who has for years interacted openly with lawyers like Sidney Powell and Billy Barr’s spox Kerri Kupec), to Jim Jordan’s staffer to Ratcliffe to Mark Meadows to Kash Patel to Trump. Every single one of these current and former officials have played a central role in these investigations; none is a “third party.”

Sergei Millian’s twitter account calls it spying

But there’s a very key step in Kessler’s timeline that is missing. At 9:39AM (the time shown here is Irish time) — which I’ve marked above in red — Sergei Millian’s twitter account tweeted, “They were spying on the White House, folks!!.”

This claim was before Techno Foggy made the spying claim. The first person to have made the “spying” claim in this timeline, then, was Sergei Millian’s twitter account.

In fact, the next day, Millian’s twitter account insinuated to have started all this in the first place — that the twitter account “had a direct line into the White House” via which it “told them who was working against them.”

Thanks for identifying this phone call, Sergei, because Igor Danchenko will now have cause to demand details of it in discovery, which will mean, on top of the other unprecedented discovery challenges Durham has taken on in prosecuting Danchenko, he’s now going to have to get Trump records from the Archives. Michael Sussmann, too, likely now has cause to demand those records.

The Millian twitter account RT of Mahncke to belatedly explain the spying claim makes it clear it is an active participant in the “Sleuths Corner” that drives many of the false claims about Durham. In fact the Millian twitter account even advertises it on the twitter account.

Durham says his key witness “misrepresented the facts”

This all amounts to Durham himself discrediting one of his witnesses, perhaps fatally.

As I have noted, when John Durham charged Igor Danchenko with four counts of lying about believing that he had spoken to Sergei Millian back in July 2016, Durham didn’t actually claim to have obtained testimony from the human being named Sergei Millian. Durham did not appear to have required that Millian show up and make statements for which he could be legally held accountable.

Instead, Durham presented an unverified twitter account to the grand jury and based on that, claimed “Chamber President-1 has claimed in public statements and on social media that he never responded to DANCHEKNO’s [sic] emails, and that he and DANCHENKO never met or communicated.”

I refer to this entity as “Sergei Millian’s twitter account” to emphasize that there is not a scrap of evidence in the public record showing that Durham did anything to confirm that Millian, the person, even operates it exclusively. While I have no reason to doubt that he does, from a legal standpoint, Durham is at least publicly relying on nothing but an unverified account, something journalists have been loathe to do for years with Millian.

And this claim attributed to an unverified twitter account is a very important piece of evidence. There’s nothing else in the public record that shows Durham affirmatively ruled out that Danchenko and Millian really did have a phone call.

When I first realized how reckless that was, I though it impossible for Durham to have been that negligent. But we’ve since learned that he accused Sussmann of coordinating with Hillary’s staffers without ever first interviewing a single full-time staffer. So perhaps it is, in fact, true that Durham charged a man based off the unsubstantiated claims of a twitter account.

Danchenko appears to have obtained a pre-trial subpoena on February 8; I have wondered whether it was for the Millian twitter account. If so, the subpoena might well obtain the traffic of what has happened in recent days.

As it stands, though, Durham makes no claim to have anything else.

Just that twitter account.

And that twitter account is part of a pipeline that took Durham’s filing and made egregiously false claims about it. Durham is now on the record claiming that that twitter account “misinterpreted the facts.” But Danchenko will have good reason — and abundant proof, given the details of last week’s little propaganda explosion — to argue that Sergei Millian’s twitter account is willing to make false claims to create a scandal around the Durham investigation.

That shreds the credibility of the only claimed “witness” that the call never happened.

68 replies
  1. Desider says:

    Stupid question here, but “Thanks for identifying this phone call, Sergei, because Igor Danchenko will now have cause to demand details of it in discovery” – can we assume there’s near 100% chance Danchenko is making this connection and will use it in his proceedings (i hope)?

    • emptywheel says:

      It is common for lawyers in the cases I cover closely to follow me closely. I have no idea if his lawyers follow me. So if they read this and find the idea has merit, yes!

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        Free legal advice is often worth what you pay for it. Marcy’s would be an exception. But there’s always that little box in the upper right hand corner.

        • Krisy Gosney says:

          All the reporting here is always stellar. But occasionally a bit of reporting stands out from all the stellar-ness. This is one of those bits. And I have to make a comment just to say thank you. I am set up for a monthly donation. But I’m thinking I need to up that monthly amount.

  2. Scott Johnson says:

    One would think that a tweet would have an evidentiary value of precisely zero, particularly concerning the fact claims made within said tweet. Even one with a blue check.

  3. Thomas says:

    I always knew that outcomes like these would be the result of any effort to “investigate the investigators” of the Trump-Russia conspiracy.
    I maintain that we will still see a criminal conspiracy exposed, because sooner or later, the evidence of the 2016 money laundering transactions linking the shell companies of Trump and the shell companies of the NRA will be exposed.
    My opinion is that this racketeering case tolls from 2017, because that is when Trump took official action as president to exempt the NRA from IRS reporting requirements that would have exposed their money laundering activities with the Bank of Cyprus and an Egyptian bank, which were laundering money for the Russian mafia.
    You see, these allegations can be proven with records and testimony.
    Crackpot conspiracy theories concocted bycriminals, frauds and liars? Not so much.
    Durham’s clown act is what was bound to happen when one of the Republican Party’s conspiracy theories tries to become a prosecution before a court.
    There is a reason that Trumpworld keeps repeating, falsely, that the Russian conspiracy was a hoax. The criminals know the evidence exists, and that it is out of their control, and it will be exposed.
    Trump must be crossing his fingers that experienced organized crime prosecutors won’t notice the transactions of his shell companies that MUST be referenced in his financial records.

    • bmaz says:

      Eh, the statute has already run on 2016 matters, and, no, “tolling” generally does not stop squat in criminal matters, nor should it. And it certainly does not simply because a suspect is POTUS. And if by “racketeering” you mean RICO, you are nuts.

      • Wajim says:

        Ding dong el timbre suena. So, RICO is definitely not suave. Is it useful to prosecutors in any sort of case?

        • bmaz says:

          Generally no, not usually. It is a very difficult target, and can usually be prosecuted through easier means/charges. Not impossible, but hard. Hard to see as to the Trumps though.

      • Thomas says:

        Money laundering using shell corporations is not racketeering?
        This is not 2016 limited. It’s 2015 to 2018 and an overt act in 2017.
        Specifically, Trump waiving IRS reporting requirements for the NRA, in 2017, for money laundering in 2016.
        If the DOJ has decided that a president can commit crimes while president to further criminal schemes that predate his presidency then I would like to see that tested.
        IANAL, so if you think we will never see Trump held accountable for money laundering schemes that are already the subject of four indictments and two convictions, then I guess you know best.

        • emptywheel says:

          You’ve just described money laundering. Not RICO.

          And yes, it’s possible he’ll be held accountable for that. And/or fraud and tax fraud. No need to try for RICO.

  4. Ben Soares says:

    Message for the so called “Sleuths” whoever, wherever they may be…
    ” That word you use. I do not think, you know what it means”
    -Inigo Montoya

    • Hika says:

      “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.” -Inigo Montoya, The Princess Bride.
      That goes for GOPers looking for ‘spying’ against Trump, and anti-Trumpers thinking they will see ‘RICO’ charges.

    • Leoghann says:

      Please don’t be too hard on Sergei and friends. They just saw the word in a gripping Hardy Boys novel and thought it was cool.

  5. Badger Robert says:

    The paragraph from the pleading quoted at the beginning of the post is demonstrably false.
    If one of the purposes was to defame Ms. Clinton, and keep her media persona in the news, when otherwise it would not be in the news, then the purposes of the alleged disclosures was wrongful.
    Ms. Wheeler lays out why the disclosure must be part of a conspiracy to satisfy Trump’s malicious hatred of Ms. Clinton. Sussman is just a stepping stone to get there.

      • P J Evans says:

        Keep reading. It’s false because it was accusing Hillary of things she didn’t do and was not involved in.

    • Hika says:

      I don’t look at any Fox blather but did see a report that they had shut up fast about HRC and this issue when she (or her lawyers) pointed out that they thought Fox was getting close to meeting the requirements for “actual malice” with their coverage/misinformation/disinformation.
      Sill, they won’t make any retractions as prominent as the garbage they’ve spewed in the past week, so the damage is done as far as what the RWNJ’s out there believe.

      • J R in WV says:

        Now I forget where this was stated as fact: “There was a “Hillary Clinton campaign plan to falsely accuse Donald Trump of collusion with Russia”

        But this can’t be a “true fact” because we know that Trump worked with and for the Russians, so statements to that end can’t be a false accusation. All those “pings” between Trump’s server(s) and Alfa Bank, for one example.

  6. Badger Robert says:

    Its difficult to anticipate what the court will do, but I think a busy court will give the Sp Counsel a brief time to produce credible evidence the statements of Sussman related to some material issue. If that evidence is not forthcoming, then dismissal may follow.

    • bmaz says:

      All federal district courts are busy, and currently the DC one may be the busiest not located on the southern border. There should be no more, and no less, than normal motion response times allowed.

      • Badger Robert says:

        I am not commenting about the time. I am only commenting that Ms Wheeler has already made it clear that the prejudice to the defendant, to Ms. Clinton and to the US of using this prosecution to perpetuate a conspiracy theory outweighs any prejudice to the US of dismissing the case. Unless the Sp Counsel can show some material harm to the US, the balance shifts toward dismissal.
        Forcing the prosecutor to identify credible evidence seems like the smallest step a judge could take to keep the pressure on the prosecution.
        But I await Ms. Wheeler’s work on the defense motions.

  7. Savage Librarian says:

    A brilliant Marcy in Limerick
    reveals how to bare the grimmer pic,
    Then in a few days:
    MSM’s next phase,
    as pols, jurists & scribes skim her quick.

  8. bg says:

    Thank you again MW. I thought everyone here might enjoy something that was in the local press. Cuoy Griffin’s attorney is the fabulous Sidney Powell. What can possibly go wrong?

    • Leoghann says:

      If you tried to link to an article, it didn’t come through. I googled Cuoy Griffin and Cowboys for Trump, and the most recent hit was from spring of last year.

      • skua says:

        Google curates/censors/deletes/optimises/fu**s with search results as part of its mission to show you what they decide is “the best of the web”.

        Try https:LINKBREAK//

        • Leoghann says:

          Thanks for the link. I don’t use Google as my search engine, because of the tracking. But I do use Startpage, which uses Google’s search results after stripping all identifying information from it. It seems odd that the results aren’t in anything approaching chronological order.

      • Troutwaxer says:

        Reading the article, perhaps Sidney Powell is the attorney for Cowboys For Trump while Nick Smith is representing Griffin?

      • Alan Charbonneau says:

        Not picking sides, but the article bg linked to includes: “Contacted Wednesday, Griffin said the latest court decision was unfair and that he is discussing how to respond with his attorney Sidney Powell, a former lawyer to the Trump reelection campaign.”

      • Leoghann says:

        Thanks, bg. It sure is manly for ol’ Cuoy to be whining “IT’S NOT FAAA-IRRR!” about the decision. The cowboy way and all, y’know. He doesn’t seem to be exceptionally smart, and I’m sure he’s fallen for Sidney’s entire line of bullshit regarding her unique interpretation of the law and the Constitution.

        That AP article that KOAT published says, “Griffin’s concerns that might lead to other disclosure requirements about contributions and spending. . . .” That could be juicy.

  9. Doctor My Eyes says:

    This is one of those deeply satisfying posts. Not only are they not third parties, the first one to jump in is a key witness in a Dunham case, now impugned by Durham himself. The corruption is eating its own tail.

    Things seem obvious after Marcy points them out, but without her, how much of this would go unnoticed?

  10. Thomas says:

    I hope Sussman’s and Danchenko’s lawyers read your blog.
    The holes you poked in Durham’s case sure seems like a dismissal to me!
    I have no experience in law or court procedures, but these discrepancies look fatal to the case.

  11. Sue B says:

    Wasn’t Bill Barr the first one to use the word “spying” when questioned about the Mueller Report? He believed it was I seem to remember him saying.

  12. rosalind says:

    o/t: i posted this link yesterday in marcy’s twitter feed for a commenter who was interested in Scooter Libby and Valerie Plame and unaware Marcy covered the trial live, and wrote a book “Anatomy of Deceit”. i realize those new to Marcy and her work might be interested to see where it began. the link is a Drinking Liberally event she did for the book that was recorded by CPAN2:

  13. Bay State Librul says:

    From the WSJ editorial board’s weekend edition, this take on the Durham hullaballoo:
    “As I suggested to e-mailer’s last weekend, who were on fire about the news, maybe just wait and let Mr. Durham show us in the court room what it all means” — Holman Jenkins
    Jenkins is a such a dummy.
    He knows little of the Barr/Durham operational disaster.
    His essay was worse than a skin irritation, comparing Durham to a “straight shooter”
    Marcy needs to pin him to the hockey boards and assess a ten-minute misconduct penalty.
    His column was fucking lunacy

    • Leoghann says:

      It appears to be a chat group led by a guy who calls himself Ryan, and who likes to spread right-wing conspiracy stories. His favorite topic is “Russiagate,” whatever that is, and he claims to be an expert on it. He publicizes it incessantly on Twitter, and talks as if he’s just changed platforms with it. He likes to complain about how badly he’s been treated on various platforms.

    • Ken Muldrew says:

      These people are totally ridiculous. They have been ducking into tv reporter hits showing copies of the 1960 Cdn Bill of Rights before heaping abuse on the tv reporters for not “telling the real story”. Somehow the real story doesn’t include the repatriation of the Constitution in 1982 (complete with a Charter of Rights and Freedoms that gives them a lot more freedom than was included in 1960, especially if they are female). Then they show up in court claiming protection from amendments to the US constitution. Just an unbelievable degree of disengagement with civic duties and responsibilities prior to occupying a city with insurrectionists and racists. What sort of switch went off in their heads to turn them from complete indifference to a non-negotiable demand that the (recently) elected government be removed by force?

  14. timbo says:

    Following might need correcting in the article: “I though it impossible for Durham to have been” should read “I thought…”, correct?

    Great stuff as always. Thanks so much for making it difficult for people like Durham and his ilk from abusing our legal system for malicious and dishonorable purposes. Sussmann deserves the benefit of the doubt, not this hackneyed garbage that Durham has swilled up.

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