There Was No Crime Predicating the Durham Investigation

Deep in a NYT piece that suggests but does not conclude that John Durham’s purpose is to feed conspiracy theories, Charlie Savage writes,

Mr. Barr’s mandate to Mr. Durham appears to have been to investigate a series of conspiracy theories.

That’s as close as any traditional media outlet has come to looking at the flimsy predication for Durham’s initial appointment.

Billy Barr, however, has never hidden his goal. In his memoir, he describes returning to government — with an understanding about the Russian investigation gleaned from the propaganda bubble of Fox News, not any firsthand access to the evidence — with a primary purpose of undermining the Russian investigation. He describes having to appoint Durham to investigate what he believed, again based off Fox propaganda, to be a bogus scandal.

I would soon make the difficult decision to go back into government in large part because I saw the way the President’s adversaries had enmeshed the Department of Justice in this phony scandal and were using it to hobble his administration. Once in office, it occupied much of my time for the first six months of my tenure. It was at the heart of my most controversial decisions. Even after dealing with the Mueller report, I still had to launch US Attorney John Durham’s investigation into the genesis of this bogus scandal.

In his shameless excuses for bypassing MLAT to grill foreigners about their role in the investigation, Barr describes “ha[ving] to run down” whether there was anything nefarious about the intelligence allies shared with the US — a rather glorified description for “chasing George Papadopoulos’ conspiracy theories around the globe.”

Durham’s investigation was up and running by the late spring. Pending IG Horowitz’s completion of his review of Crossfire Hurricane, I asked Durham to focus initially on any relevant activities by the CIA, NSA, or friendly foreign intelligence services. One of the more asinine aspects of media coverage about Durham’s investigation was all the heavy breathing during the summer as news seeped out that I had contacts with foreign governments on Durham’s behalf. Various journalists and commentators claimed this indicated that I was personally conducting the investigation and suggested there was something nefarious about my communicating with allied governments about Russiagate. [sic] This coverage was a good example of the kind of partisan nonsense that passes as journalism these days.

One of the questions that had to be run down was whether allied intelligence services had any role in Russiagate [sic] or had any relevant information. One question was whether US officials had asked foreign intelligence services to spy on Americans. Various theories of potential involvement by British, Australian, or Italian intelligence agencies had been raised over the preceding two years. Talking to our allies about these matters was an essential part of the investigation. It should not surprise anyone that a prosecutor cannot just show up on the door- step of a foreign intelligence agency and start asking questions. An introduction and explanation at more senior levels is required. So— gasp!—I contacted the relevant foreign ambassadors, who in turn put me in touch with an appropriate senior official in their country with authority to deal with such matters. These officials quite naturally wanted to hear from me directly about the contours of the investigation and how their information would be protected.

Much later, when Barr claimed that Durham would not lower DOJ standards just to obtain results, Barr again described an investigation launched to “try to get to the bottom of what happened” rather than investigate a potential crime.

I acknowledged that what had happened to President Trump in 2016 was abhorrent and should not happen again. I said that the Durham investigation was trying to get to the bottom of what happened but “cannot be, and it will not be, a tit-for-tat exercise.” I pledged that Durham would adhere to the department’s standards and would not lower them just to get results. I then added a point, meant to temper any expectation that the investigation would necessarily produce any further indictments:

[W]e have to bear in mind [what] the Supreme Court recently re- minded [us] in the “Bridgegate” case—there is a difference between an abuse of power and a federal crime. Not every abuse of power, no matter how outrageous, is necessarily a federal crime.

And then Durham lowered DOJ standards and charged two false statement cases for which he had (and has, in the case of Igor Danchenko) flimsy proof and for which, in the case of Michael Sussmann, he had not tested the defendant’s sworn explanation before charging. Durham further lowered DOJ standards by turning false statement cases into uncharged conspiracies he used to make wild unsubstantiated allegations about a broad network of others.

This entire three year process was launched with no evidence that a crime was committed, and it seems likely that only the Kevin Clinesmith prosecution, which DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz handed Durham months after he was appointed as a fait accompli and which could easily have been prosecuted by the DC US Attorney’s Office, provided an excuse to convene a grand jury to start digging in the coffers of Fusion GPS and Perkins Coie.

There was no crime. Durham was never investigating a suspected crime and then, as statutes of limitation started expiring, he hung a conspiracy theory on a claimed false statement for which he had no solid proof. Eight months into Durham repeating those conspiracy theories at every turn — conspiracy theories that Durham admitted would not amount to a crime in any case! — a jury told Durham he had inadequate proof a crime was committed and that the entire thing had been a waste of time and resources.

“The government had the job of proving beyond a reasonable doubt,” she said, declining to give her name. “We broke it down…as a jury. It didn’t pan out in the government’s favor.”

Asked if she thought the prosecution was worthwhile, the foreperson said: “Personally, I don’t think it should have been prosecuted because I think we have better time or resources to use or spend to other things that affect the nation as a whole than a possible lie to the FBI. We could spend that time more wisely.”

Compare that to the Russian investigation, which was started to figure out which Trump associate had advance knowledge of Russia’s criminal hack-and-leak operation and whether they had any criminal exposure in it. Here’s how Peter Strzok described it in his book:

[A]gents often don’t even know the subject of a counterintelligence investigation. They have a term for that: an unknown subject, or UNSUB, which they use when an activity is known but the specific person conducting that activity is not — for instance, when they are aware that Russia is working to undermine our electoral system in concert with a presidential campaign but don’t know exactly who at that campaign Russia might be coordinating with or how many people might be involved.

To understand the challenges of an UNSUB case, consider the following three hypothetical scenarios. In one, a Russian source tells his American handler that, while out drinking at an SVR reunion, he learned that a colleague had just been promoted after a breakthrough recruitment of an American intelligence officer in Bangkok. We don’t know the identity of the recruited American — he or she is an UNSUB. A second scenario: a man and a woman out for a morning run in Washington see a figure toss a package over the fence of the Russian embassy and speed off in a four-door maroon sedan. An UNSUB.

Or consider this third scenario: a young foreign policy adviser to an American presidential campaign boasts to one of our allies that the Russians have offered to help his candidate by releasing damaging information about that candidate’s chief political rival. Who actually received the offer of assistance from the Russians? An UNSUB.


The FFG information about Papadopoulos presented us with a textbook UNSUB case. Who received the alleged offer of assistance from the Russians? Was it Papadopoulos? Perhaps, but not necessarily. We didn’t know about his contacts with Mifsud at the time — all we knew was that he had told the allied government that the Russians had dirt on Clinton and Obama and that they wanted to release it in a way that would help Trump.

The answer, by the way, was that at least two Trump associates had advance knowledge, George Papadopoulos and Roger Stone, and Stone shared his advance knowledge with Rick Gates, Paul Manafort, Steve Bannon, and Donald Trump, among others. By all appearances, DOJ was still investigating whether Stone had criminal exposure tied to his advance knowledge when Barr interfered in that investigation in February 2020, a fact that Barr hid until the day before the 2020 election.

With the Russian investigation, there was a crime: a hack by a hostile nation-state of a Presidential candidate, along with evidence that her opponent at least knew about the related leak campaign in advance. With the Durham investigation, there were only Fox News conspiracy theories and the certainty that Donald Trump shouldn’t be held accountable for encouraging Russia to hack his opponent.

The fact that this entire three year wild goose hunt was started without any predicating crime is all the more ridiculous given Durham’s repeated focus both on the predication of Crossfire Hurricane (in criticizing Horowitz’s report on Carter Page) and the Alfa Bank inquiry (during the Sussmann trial). John Durham, appointed to investigate conspiracy theories, deigns to lecture others about appropriate predication.

And that’s undoubtedly why, in the face of this humiliating result for Durham, Billy Barr is outright lying about what Durham’s uncharged conspiracy theories revealed about the predication of the Russian investigation.

He and his team did an exceptionally able job, both digging out very important facts and presenting a compelling case to the jury. And the fact that he … well, he did not succeed in getting a conviction from the DC jury, I think he accomplished something far more important, which is he brought out the truth in two important areas. First, I think he crystalized the central role played by the Hillary campaign in launching — as a dirty trick — the whole RussiaGate [sic] collusion [sic] narrative and fanning the flames of it, and second, I think, he exposed really dreadful behavior by the supervisors in the FBI, the senior ranks of the FBI, who knowingly used this information to start an investigation of Trump and then duped their own agents by lying to them and refusing to tell them what the real source of that information was.

That’s not what the trial showed, of course. Every witness who was asked about the centrality of the Alfa Bank allegations responded that there were so many other ties between Trump and Russia that the Alfa Bank allegations didn’t much stick out. Here’s how Robby Mook described it in questioning by Michael Bosworth.

[I]t was one of many pieces of information we had. And, in fact, every day, you know, Donald Trump was saying things about Putin and saying things about Russia. So this was a constituent piece of information among many pieces of information, and I don’t think we saw it as this silver bullet that was going to conclude the campaign and, you know, determine the outcome, no.

Q. There were a lot of Trump/Russia issues you were focused on?

A. Correct.

Q. And this was one of many?

A. Correct.

In response to questioning by Sean Berkowitz, Marc Elias traced the increased focus on Russia to Trump’s own request for Russia to hack Hillary.

Q. Let’s take a look — let me ask a different question. At some point in the summer of 2016, did Candidate Trump make any statements publicly about the hack?

A. Yes.

Q. What do you recall him saying and when?

A. There was a publication of emails, of DNC emails, in the days leading up to the Democratic National Convention. And it was in my opinion at the time clearly an effort by Russia to ruin what is the one clean shot that candidates get to talk to the American public. Right? The networks give you free coverage for your convention. And in the days before the convention, there was a major leak. And rather than doing what any decent human being might do and condemn it, Donald Trump said: I hope Russia is listening and, if so, will find the 30,000 Hillary Clinton emails that he believed existed and release them. That’s what I remember.

Q. Did you feel the campaign was under attack, sir?

A. We absolutely were under attack.

Q. And in connection with that, were there suggestions or possibilities at least in your mind and in the campaign’s mind that there could be a connection between Russia and Trump?

A. Again, this is, you know — this was public — Donald Trump — you know, the Republican Party historically has been very anti-Russia. Ronald Reagan was like the most anti-communist, the most anti-Soviet Union president.

And all of a sudden you had this guy who becomes the nominee; and they change the Russian National Committee platform to become pro-Russian and he has all these kind things to say about Putin. And then he makes this statement.

And in the meantime, he has hired, you know, Paul Manafort, who is, you know, I think had some ties to — I don’t recall anymore, but it was some pro-Russia thing in Ukraine.

So yeah. I thought that there were — I thought it was plausible. I didn’t know, but I thought it was an unusual set of circumstances and I thought it was plausible that Donald Trump had relations with — through his company with Russia.

Democrats didn’t gin up the focus on Trump’s ties to Russia, Trump’s own begging for more hacking did.

The trial also showed that this wasn’t an investigation into Trump. Rather, it was opened as an investigation into Kirkland & Ellis client Alfa Bank, which FBI believed had ties to Russian intelligence.

The investigation even considered whether Alfa Bank was victimizing Trump Organization.

Barr is similarly lying about whether supervisors revealed the source(s) of this information and what it was.

The source for the allegations was not Hillary, but researchers. And the trial presented repeated testimony that David Dagon’s role as one source of the allegations being shared with investigative agents. That detail was not hidden, but agents nevertheless never interviewed Dagon.

And even the purported tie to the Democrats was not well hidden. Indeed, the trial evidence shows that the FBI believed the DNC to be the source of the allegations, and that detail leaked down to various agents — including the two cyber agents, Nate Batty and Scott Hellman, whose shoddy analysis encouraged all other agents to dismiss the allegations — via various means.

Andrew DeFilippis made great efforts (efforts that lowered DOJ standards) to claim differently, but the evidence that key investigators assumed this was a DNC tip was fairly strong.

Three years after launching an investigation into conspiracy theories, Barr is left lying, claiming he found the result he set out to find three years ago. But the evidence — and the jury’s verdict — proves him wrong.

For years, Durham has been seeking proof that the predication of the Russian investigation was faulty. The only crime he has proven in the interim is that his own investigation was predicated on Fox News conspiracy theories.

118 replies
  1. Building Guy says:

    Keep up the excellent work. By summarizing Barr’s perfidy and concealment after exposing the fraud perpetrated by Durham’s perfidy, you have almost completed a journalistic hat trick.

    While the public and media move on to the critical social consequence and meaning of the Depp/Heard trial, your determination dad been single handed. Kudos, you deserve a Pulitzer.

    Now, all that remains is to nail the bastards who perpetrated this criminal act and remain concealed. Couldn’t help but note the idle threat of litigation from Stone following the verdict. Standing? Maybe not legally, but almost as obvious as a 5th Amendment plea.

  2. Bay State Librul says:

    If as Marcy says that the Durham Investigations was predicated on lies, then Barr should be impeached, and Garland should call Durham into his office and hand him his walking papers.
    Leadership at DOJ must be decisive, and these lemonheads should be held ACCOUNTABLE

    • bmaz says:

      Impeachment is a joke, especially as to Barr, who is no longer in government service. Garland cannot simply up and fire Durham that easily because of Durham’s status as a “special counsel”. Folks really need to get a grip and stop hyperventilating.

      • Lemmy says:

        Though I’d imagine that substituting conspiracy theories for evidence for three straight years, with one court loss and another on the horizon, might qualify under “other good cause”:

        (d) The Special Counsel may be disciplined or removed from office only by the personal action of the Attorney General. The Attorney General may remove a Special Counsel for misconduct, dereliction of duty, incapacity, conflict of interest, or for other good cause, including violation of Departmental policies. The Attorney General shall inform the Special Counsel in writing of the specific reason for his or her removal.

          • Marika says:

            What do you think the chances are that Durham will quietly throw in the towel and declare victory? I also notice Barr went on Fox where he could be certain he wouldn’t be asked anything substantive.

            • EdwardB says:

              Slim to none. This is an exercise in generating sound bites for RWNJ media, and in that, it has been quite successful.

              • Doctor Cyclops says:

                If nothing else, Durham has demonstrated how risky it is for anyone, even a well-connected Washington attorney, to voluntarily cooperate with the FBI. To paraphrase Groucho Marx, “I’ll talk it over with my lawyer. If he advises me to cooperate, I’ll get a new lawyer.”

                • bmaz says:

                  I dunno, I have talked to the Feds before when it might help my client. Or at least would not hurt them. So, yes, it can be done, and is all the time.

              • timbo says:

                Then the only other way for him to be removed is through action of Garland. I wonder what may happen after the J6 Committee gets rolling. Hopefully there will be firings going on of scawfflaws like Durham and other people who should not be working at DOJ et al.

      • Pete T says:

        Half tongue in cheek here, but can Garland assign Durham to investigate something (else)?

        Seems to me there are oodles of things that warrant investigation: baby formula, Uvalde, fraud in banking, the list is long and distinguished. Heck assign him too investigate state voting laws disenfranchising people from the ballot, gerrymandering, etc.

  3. Thomas says:

    It seems to me that Batty and Hellman WERE influenced by the fact that Sussman was a lawyer for the DNC, but Durham has it upside down and backwards.

    They weren’t influenced to “open up a false investigation against Trump.” Instead they were influenced to simply shitcan actual, sound evidence of a secret communication channel between Trump and the Russians. They did that because they assumed it was just political crap.

    I can’t wait to see how the Danchenko trial goes. But, for now, it’s the other side’s turn.
    Which investigation is going to yield an indictment that JAILS Trump without bail, pending prosecution?

    Russian money laundering? (The statute of limitations was lifted a couple of weeks ago to facilitate KLEPTOCAPTURE)

    Obstruction of Mueller? Thanks, Rudy.

    The slew of felonies related to the first impeachment? Thanks again, Rudy.

    Fake Electors? Election Fraud in Georgia? New York Racketeering? Federal Tax Evasion?

    That’s SEVEN. There are more!

  4. greenbird says:

    thank you, marcy – even if it got glued to my nose, i’d prolly miss it.
    you have fans helping fans wake up.

    • Theodora30 says:

      You would have missed this information because the media deliberately ignored it. I can’t believe the fact that Barr admitted that he took the AG job specifically to undermine the “Russiagate” investigation because he had already decided it was a hoax should have made headline, top of the page news in all mainstream media outlets.
      Barr’s credibility should have been destroyed back when he went around giving speeches bragging about how he encouraged Bush I to pardon not just Caspar Weinberger, but all of Bush’s fellow Iran Contra conspirators. That pardon kept Bush’s own diary of all those Iran Contra meetings he repeatedly claimed he hadn’t attended from being presented at their trials. The media chose to ignore that fact, too.

      • bmaz says:

        That was known and well publicized when he took the job. The media did not ignore it if people were looking and cared. Mostly they did not.

        • BobCon says:

          There was reporting at the time, to be sure. There’s a major problem though that it dropped out of coverage soon after.

          By the time Barr wildly misrepresented Mueller’s findings, released his bogus summary, and then sat on Mueller’s report for weeks, this had dropped out of reporting and he was treated as a good faith operator.

          That he still gets treated seriously is a sign of how messed up coverage in this sphere is. It’s like sports writers taking Tebow’s stint with the Mets even half seriously.

          • bmaz says:

            I’m sorry. Just because people are too stupid or nonchalant to pay attention, is not the fault of “the media”. That is as dumb a trope as the Trump assault on the media.

            • BobCon says:

              That’s absolutely naive. Serious people have gotten completely misled by the Times doing BS framing with bad ledes and heds followed by a “to be sure” graf 32, and the idea that the public at large can sift through this is nuts.

              The overwhelming framing of Barr as Trump’s AG was as someone acting with integrity and good faith. Expecting people to actively reject that evidence in order to accept a small minority of counterevidence is just not how the press should work.

              Baquet has defended the paper’s 2016 obsession with emails and Patrick Healy doing a deep dive on Clinton’s laugh by noting that once they ran a piece on her education proposals. It’s as hopeless as Fyodor pinning his hopes of redemption in the Brothers Karamazov on the idea of once giving an onion to a beggar.

              Every major outlet has a version of the AP stylebook which delves into these questions. They stress the importance of proper weighting, of how to present sources, and the consequences of poor editorial choices.

              By their own standards regarding Barr they’ve failed.

              • bmaz says:

                Really? Because I have been able to understand it every step of the way. The “news” is out there. People either won’t see it, or do not want to. The information is there. Whining that it is not is silly.

                • earlofhuntingdon says:

                  “The information is out there. All you have to do is let it in.”

                  — Suitcase Simpson

              • John Gurley says:

                The media does seem to have an incredible case of amnesia when it comes to connecting the dots and providing context regarding recent Republican misbehavior..

                • timbo says:

                  Pretty easy to argue that they dropped the ball during the 2016 campaign as well.

                  The real problem is that people have become numbed by the glitzy, shouty, so-called news programming that is foisted on us daily. Many older people in our society seem to be glued to this stuff on TV, as if it is real and accurate when it is far, far from that. Our collective minds are being warn down and exhausted by the grifters, schills, and frankly, out and out liars that regularly pass for news programming in the US these days.

                  This ongoing process of shaping news programming in such a way as to empty it of useful analysis and content is eroding what was left of the larger number of citizens who once cared to help fix things. It is a testament to the robustness of the Republic that Biden even managed to get into the office of the Presidency at this point. If the media and the Biden Administration stumble further, the house of cards will fall hard.

  5. jhinx says:


    One question was whether US officials had asked foreign intelligence services to spy on Americans. Various theories of potential involvement by British, Australian, or Italian intelligence agencies had been raised over the preceding two years.

    Questions were asked. Theories had been raised.

    Where did these questions and theories come from? Disembodied voices?

  6. wetzel says:

    Dr. Wheeler, that was a wonderful post taking us to the predication of the case, although I think I disagree on one point. I don’t really see Barr sitting in his easy chair, watching the TV, pulling out his yellow pad and writing to Trump. Maybe it is not journalistic to invent an alternative history. Where do we have this narrative? That’s Barr’s story. I don’t believe it. This is the man who covered up George Bush Sr.’s crimes from the Iran Contra scandal. Bill Barr was called in like Harvey Keitel in Pulp Fiction. He is the great fixer.

    At that point, the GOP would have come to understand the mortal danger they were in. They have understood what Putin did to them sooner than the Democrats. The FBI was on the scent. The NRA. How bad is it? They have to save the Grand Ole fuckin’ Party! They sent Bill Barr to fix it, the velvet gloved spider. Now they have put us on the precipice of fascism.

    I suggest everybody not just read the transcript but watch that Bill Barr video if you can make yourself, the inhuman blankness to him, a kind of hopelessness. You won’t find mercy in the truth. The truth of history is irrelevant. The will to power is Bill Barr’s moral universe. We think this is an unAmerican moral framework, but it is as old as Chinatown. We don’t have the roles, scripts and schemas to make sense of it, and Bill Barr knows it. He’s a fascist propagandist, a type of panderer within a dictatorship whose job it is to destroy certain history, the cover-up artist.

  7. !? says:

    Will Durham appeal? It doesn’t seem he has grounds (Ianal), but it would keep the frothers happy & confused which has always been the goal.

    • EdwardB says:

      The prosecution cannot appeal an acquittal after jury trial. That’s the double jeopardy rule.

      • bmaz says:


        And also why prosecutors never move for a mistrial once a jury is empaneled, because of double jeopardy. The defense can and will, but not the prosecution, because that would end the case.

  8. ThomasH says:

    Is that in the transcript of Berkowitz questioning Elias; “and they change the Russian National Committee platform to become pro Russian…”? Either way, it’s hilarious.

  9. Troy P says:

    Thanks for the lucid summary of Barr’s actions. As always, you work is top notch and much appreciated. I usually just lurk, but since no one has remarked on this yet, I will grab the low hanging fruit: “The Honorable William P. Barr.” The irony of that sign is priceless. Thanks again.

  10. William Bennett says:

    What continues to infuriate, on the newsmedia side, is the failure to grasp the essence of the propaganda tactic, which the right has been evolving for decades, all the way back to Whitewater. The point of the investigation isn’t the investigating, it’s the “investigation.” All you need to do is generate the headline-generating fact that an “investigation” is taking place. Trump obv. didn’t invent it but he exploited it repeatedly. The “perfect phone call” to Zelensky the cardinal example, but similarly the pressure on Barr regarding the Big Lie. “Just say you’re investigating it, we’ll do the rest.” Because you don’t need to turn up any genuine facts (since there aren’t any to begin with); you just need the headline to sustain the assumption “Well, there must be something TO investigate, if there’s an investigation.” Dozens of examples, each one ending badly, the NYT especially willing to get played this way again and again and again.

    So ok, all this is known, but why hasn’t there evolved any mechanism for opposing it? The objectivity hole. “Not our place to judge, we just report.” But shouldn’t there be a way to report that there’s objectively no there there? “Where there’s smoke there’s fire,” isn’t remotely accurate. Where there’s this kind of smoke, there’s no fire, there’s only a well funded and diligently maintained smoke machine, and they’re a critical part of it.

    • bmaz says:

      It is funny, I have seen and witnessed all of that, over decades. In the “press”. The press has reported it. Maybe the fault is that people do not pay attention.

      • Fraud Guy says:

        It was reported, on page A17, under the fold, in the 20th paragraph. I live in the ecosystem that catches that, as do you, but most people read the headlines and the first few paragraphs.

          • P J Evans says:

            Apparently we also can’t fix media that aren’t interested in actual reporting, either.

          • Doctor My Eyes says:

            Perhaps the Onion slideshow, Biggest Revelations From the Johnny Depp–Amber Heard Trial is relevant here. Their first “revelation:

            Our Society Is Not Philosophically Or Emotionally Intelligent Enough To Be Weighing In On This Trial, After six weeks of constant analysis and content, the verdict is in: We are as a people simply too impatient, stupid, and psychologically stunted to be discussing this trial at all.


            • bmaz says:

              Naw. The jury saw every second of it and ruled unanimously (which is not necessary in a civil trial), with a jury makeup of 8 women and only 4 men, for the verdict they rendered. I am fine with it.

          • Sonso says:

            Not to impugn your expertise on legal matters, but this is the most pithy, though not original, comment of yours I have read. The third rail of American politics and society is that you can’t tell people they’re stupid.

          • timbo says:

            Yes you can. For instance, reinstate the fair use doctrine of the nations airwaves. And cable. And streaming. If some paid schill voices a canned opinion on a so-called “news analysis” program/segment, there should be a right to equal time for rebuttal. Give the quick-witted a chance to debunk and rhetorically demolish this shilling kiss-uppers and you’ll see a marked change in public opinion.

            But that’s no longer allowed. And we see the fruits of that active attempt to prevent the public from being able to comment on the air here in the US. In fact, more than a generation of folks no longer even know what it is like to have opposing views appear in the media streams of their choice. It’s a sad, sad day when all you get is an unchallenged echo-chamber as the primary source of all you know, a problem made much more dangerous by the fact that the US impacts and is impacted by much more than what one watches in a daily live stream of canned nothing.

            • timbo says:

              Sorry, replace “fair use doctrine” with “equal time doctrine” in the above. Mia culpa!

        • timbo says:

          Yes, in the East Bay Times, important info that has long term consequences for the world and our Republic are buried inside, no longer on the front pages. This is an editorial decision based on what advertising dollars want, and how the lack of choice of newspapers means that you either get this rag or nothing at all.

    • Biked says:

      Maybe the media are supporters of the right. Look at what Comey did as as violating policy for his October surprise. Look at Wray and his friendship with Justice Kavanaugh for the right tilt of the FBI generally. . Sending a new agent to query Alfabank fits right in as well.

      [Welcome to emptywheel. A cautionary note: your IP address is in the same range as that used to publish a previous comment which could be interpreted by the comment system as an attempt to sockpuppet. Please use the same username each time you comment here so that community members get to know you and the system recognizes you. Thanks. /~Rayne]

      • gmoke says:

        “Maybe the media are supporters of the right.”

        The media are, almost exclusively, corporations with all of their investments and worth wrapped up in the status quo. As Thorstein Veblen wrote in The Theory of the Leisure Class, “In point of derivation, the office of government is a predatory function, pertaining integrally to the archaic leisure-class scheme of life. It is an exercise of control and coercion over the population from which the class draws its sustenance;” and we all should keep remembering that, daily, if not more often.

    • wetzel says:

      Hey, there, William, today is a good day. They needed this verdict. Maybe the good guys win. If you are infuriated with the press, imagine the world where Sussman is ‘Guilty’. But Sussman was found ‘Not Guilty’. It was a victory for research, logic and lawyering.

      It was a big victory! Now we don’t live in the world where Sussman had been found ‘Guilty’. In that history. THE DEMOCRATIC LAWYER WAS GUILTY OF STARTING THE RUSSIA HOAX!!! The GOP had investigations like no other planned for that world. This was their #1 project for the new Congress. How did the Democrats pull it off? Who else was involved? I guarantee they don’t know what to do now!

      This trial was a lynch-pin for their main strategy to survive the coup investigations (Hey Ho Skull & Bonesmen!! Federal prosecutors win 95% of the time!! Thanks to Bill Barr, we’re made in the shade!!) Now, nobody in their party is safe. Look what’s coming. Every Congressional candidate this season can be pushed. What is your stand on sedition Congressman? They have no alternative evidence. Now it is all obvious lunacies. No evidence attaches. They will have to become the New Whigs or something.

      Many people around the internet will complain emptywheel has too high a reading level. It’s too hard! I pretend I am preparing for the LSAT. You probably have your own trick. I think the hyperfocus and analysis here have helped the Sussman defense. I think the team here knows they have been helping the defense. How could they not have? So reality is still reality and the law is still the law. Thank you very much for saving civilization!

      America was walking along the very knife-edge of fascism in the Sussman trial. What truly frustrates me about the media is how this trial has only been a real focus of attention at emptywheel, a few other sites and in right wing media. Game out the alternative verdict. You and your family don’t have to live in that world. I’d call this trial a turning point against fascism, but there have been a lot of those, right. I’m thinking the transition to totalitarian fascism might be irreversible if a path can be found.

      • timbo says:

        The “Sussmann trial”, alas, isn’t over. There are still ongoing investigations of all associates of Sussmann in this matter until Durham shuts it down or is shutdown. And believe me, even if that happens, even if Durham is shuttered, if Twitler and his Twisslerings get back in power, this will be resurrected in some form.

  11. skua says:

    “So Bertie minces in and says all obsequious like, “Sir Alex, the Attorney General of the United States of America is here to see you sir”. I plays along and replies, “Oooo this must be terribly important Bertie, show him in immediately and bring the tea tray.” And then this big weezing William walks in and drops into the spare chair and says, “Do you know anything about this false claim that the Emperor has no clothes on?” It was a near thing, could so easily have laughed uproariously and fouled myself but I recalled Henry’s speech at Agincourt and replied, “Not to my knowledge sir but I’ll have a thorough investigation conducted to make sure and let you know the result immediately it’s completed”. The implications for intelligence sharing, NATO and global geopolitical stabilty hit me 30 seconds later.”

    • Rayne says:

      Dear God, what I would pay for a Wodehouse compiler/translator. Imagine three years of Durham’s bullshit adapted by Wodehouse into Jeeves and Wooster; it’d make more sense than any Qanon qrap.

      • Rugger9 says:

        Jeeves and Wooster would at least be funny, but I’m still wondering who will be Durham’s next case to try to make a connection to the DNC. Danchenko is not tied to HFA 2016 as far as I know, and I would think the statutes of limitations would have run out on everyone else.

        Does that mean Durham has to close up shop?

        • Savage Librarian says:

          The kind of OCD that Durham may have might be 3D. It’s colorful and panoramic. It’s dynamic and interactive. It has its conceits, red herrings, deceits and inventive imagination. You might say it even has “deza view.” Don’t forget to wear your special glasses and click your heels three times in order to see the 3 D path that Johnny D follows to make his amplified connections:

          Durham > Dolan > Danchenko

          • Savage Librarian says:


            But, sadly, this kind of OCD can often be a symptom of OVD [O. V. Deripaska]

      • John Colvin says:

        … or John Durham and Andrew DeFilippis in a twisted version of the old British sitcom, “Yes, Minister”: “Yes, Special Counsel.”

        • Peterr says:

          Durham strikes me more as the proprietor of a certain English cheese shop . . .

          We run the best investigative outfit in the country!
          OK, have you got any damning emails?
          Well, no.
          Any witness testimony?
          Any incriminating documents?
          Really? Wonderful! Let’s see them.
          Uh, the cat ate them.
          Got any good motions?
          (pause) No.
          How about a nice juicy indictment, filled with all manner of criminal behavior that you can back up with mounds of proof?
          We don’t get much call for that around here, sir.

          Or perhaps he’s more like the proprietor of a certain pet shop . . .

          I wish to make a complaint about this case you argued here not two days ago.
          Ah, the Russiagate case. Lovely case. What’s wrong with it?
          I’ll tell you what’s wrong with it, my lad. It is dead.
          Ah, no. It’s just restin’.
          I know a dead case when I see one, and I’m lookin’ at one right now.
          . . .
          Um…now look…now look, mate, I’ve definitely ‘ad enough of this. That case is definitely deceased, and when you argued it not two days ago, you assured me that its total lack of quality was due to it bein’ tired and shagged out following a prolonged squawk.
          Well, he’s…he’s, ah…probably pining for Mar-a-Lago.
          PININ’ for MAR-A-LAGO?!?!?!? What kind of talk is that? Look, why did it fall flat on his back the moment the jury got its instructions?
          The Russiagate case prefers keepin’ on it’s back! Remarkable case, id’nit, squire? Lovely ratings every night on Fox!
          Look, I took the liberty of examining that case when I got it home, and I discovered the only reason that it had been sitting on its perch in the first place was that it had been NAILED there. . . .

  12. Makeitso says:

    Buried in the comments by Barr is his remark that Durham couldn’t get a DC JURY to convict.

    They really are shameless.

    • Ginevra diBenci says:

      Barr wouldn’t show up on Fox without bringing a dog whistle. He knows just how his audience will hear that “DC jury” remark. He’s been working this shtick since long ago, with blaming all 2020 violence on Black Lives Matter as his heyday. But who knows? Maybe his racist tropes will serve a next administration with Trump again at the helm. He seems to be getting back in gear.

        • bmaz says:

          Yeah, you take a “jury of peers” where you find them. “DC jury” is totally race baiting bullshit.

          • timbo says:

            Thank you for pointing this out. The racism and elitist nonsense out of Barr’s trap is grating and obnoxious. Add dangerous and disingenuous and an indictment and then we might really be getting somewhere?

  13. Rapier says:

    Barr is what I call a Roman Catholic boy fascist. There are huge swaths of the ‘respectable’ hard right in every corner of the Conservative world from the Supreme Court, even a girl Catholic Boy fascist, to movement members, funders and soldiers along with media personalities big and tiny who are members of the tribe.

    Ultimately it’s all about sex, but they don’t know it. It’s all very sad.

    • Tom says:

      It’s election day here in Ontario and one of the far right fringe parties, the Ontario Party, has a logo which features a stylized letter “t” in the word “Party” that resembles a Christian cross and is no doubt intended to symbolize the party’s affiliation with the Christian religion. This is the same party that gained some notoriety a month or so ago when it announced it had hired Roger Stone–of all people–to be its political advisor.

      So I emailed my local Ontario Party candidate to ask him what his party could possibly hope to learn from Roger Stone, unless they intended on working with Russian intelligence to sabotage our election, or storming the seat of the provincial legislature at Queen’s Park in Toronto in the event they lost out at the polls on election night. Or possibly they hoped Roger Stone would discover a Satanic portal connecting the infernal regions with Queen’s Park of the kind that he’s claimed in recent weeks connects Hell and the White House.

      In response, the candidate emailed me to say that he had talked to Roger Stone and that he would now agree with every nasty thing I had said about him. The reason for that, according to the candidate, was that Roger Stone had found Jesus Christ and was now a changed man. The candidate also asked me to continue our discussion but I declined the invitation as his version of reality was clearly different from mine.

      P.S. I didn’t vote for him.

      • Tomm Undergod says:

        That logo is similar to the title graphics for “Impastor,” a hilarious Canadian series in which a lowlife womanizing gambler hides out by stealing the identity of an openly gay man who was about to become the new pastor at a welcoming church. Of course the T in the title was replaced with a cross.

    • Sonso says:

      I don’t want your sex comment to go by without affirming that,yes, puritanical Calvinism/Dominionism is at the core of modern ‘conservatism’. There are many pejoratives that can be thrown their way, but sexual guilt and frustration is definitely a through line in MAGAworld.

  14. Marika says:

    Just wanted to thank you all for the posting delay and the opportunity to edit. Maybe Twitter could figure that fix out?

    • Rayne says:

      Twitter could figure that out and even monetize it but they choose not to. Only need an optional script with a 30-60 second delay to post; the option could be paid for with a subscription which allows the user to turn on/off the script. Which is pretty much how it works here without the subscription fee.

  15. The Old Redneck says:

    Barr says of Durham:
    I think he crystalized the central role played by the Hillary campaign in launching — as a dirty trick — the whole RussiaGate [sic] collusion [sic] narrative and fanning the flames of it, and second, I think, he exposed really dreadful behavior by the supervisors in the FBI, the senior ranks of the FBI, who knowingly used this information to start an investigation of Trump and then duped their own agents by lying to them and refusing to tell them what the real source of that information was.

    I wonder how Sussman feels, after forfeiting a year of his life and paying enormous attorney fees, that his prosecution was really just a vehicle for “exposing” the Clinton campaign and FBI? There are far less ruinous ways to draw attention to something than prosecuting someone for a non-crime.

  16. Doctor Biobrain says:

    Every Trump scandal is layers of failure because he can’t get out of his own way. The main reason Russiagate was so important to him is because he thought that was the reason he couldn’t get anything done, as if the investigation was somehow derailing his agenda.

    But the real issue is that Republicans only have fake solutions to invented problems. He wanted to pass infrastructure, improve Obamacare, bring back factory and coal jobs, and build his dumb wall. But those were just rightwing talking points with no real policy backing them up because conservatives think government is the only problem that should be solved.

    The Russia investigation didn’t derail his agenda, his agenda was never on the rails. Had he not publicly flirted with Russia, fired Comey, obstructed the investigation, and all the other dumb things that made him look guilty, he still couldn’t have gotten anything done. Sad!

    • Rayne says:

      publicly flirted with Russia

      What a delicate and noncommittal way to phrase the relationship Trump had as a deeply-compromised Russian asset whose political party had a tenuous grasp on the majority for half his term in office.

    • Eichhörnchen says:

      I read somewhere that Trump recently sent another letter to the Pulitzer committee, demanding that the prize awarded to WaPo and NYT for their reporting on Trump-Russia be rescinded, lest he bring a lawsuit for (IIRC) defamation.

      • Peterr says:


        Of course, he did not send a letter to the WaPo or NYT threatening to sue them and demanding they retract the stories. They would dare him to do so, and write up the story of the threat. And if he tried to follow through on that, they’d beat him like a drum.

        But the Pulitzer Committee does not have the same deep pockets to fend of lawsuits filed simply to bully them, so that’s where Trump issued his threat.

        • Rayne says:

          The Pulitzer Committee is located in NY which has better SLAPP laws than many states. Good luck, Donald, attacking an adjunct of the press for its exercise of free speech.

          • Peterr says:

            Oh, he didn’t send this letter with any serious intent to sue. But I guarantee you that it looks really good when he mentions the letter in a Trump fundraising letter. Attacking the press, or an adjunct thereof, always goes over well with the GOP base.

            It’s all about the grift.

        • P J Evans says:

          They’re the wrong target anyway: they didn’t publish the stories that he’s whining about, and awards are opinion.

  17. Lemoco says:

    This may be a stupid question, but did the FBI investigate the the origins of the Tor node at Spectrum Health. Eric Prince was at the center of early attempts to establish back-channels to Russia and Saudi Arabia. His proximity to the DeVos clan, and Spectrum Health needs a closer look in my opinion.

    • Tim Tuttle says:

      I’ve always wondered about the Spectrum Health connection as well.

      Were they going to use patients records in Michigan & Wisconsin for micro targeting?

      No question that Erik Prince has fingerprints on this caper.

      And each day I become less impressed by Barr. Durham has always appeared average.

      That trip to Rome? Did they attend the Opus Dei Mass in the Vatican cellars?

  18. William S. Heaps says:

    Does Sussman have grounds for a lawsuit against Barr or Durham? If he does should he pursue it?

    • timbo says:

      He might against Durham…and Barr for that matter. Depends on whether there’s direct evidence that this was a ginned up prosecution that is difficult to contest. Barr is typically waaay too astute for that. Durham though…ya gotta wonder if he’s so dumb as to have kept an elucidating journal…probably not, right?

  19. MinnesotaFaqs says:

    Rodney Joffe was a paid informant for the FBI on internet and cyber issues starting before May 2016 and continuing (at least) throughout the rest of 2016. Is it possible that Rodney Joffe, at the request of the FBI (who had already started the Crossfire Hurricane investigation of Trump collusion with Russia), initiated the search for Trump DNS data with Russia instead of Michael Sussman as a way of supporting the FBI’s Crossfire Hurricane investigation? This could explain how the ALFA Bank DNS data was found so soon after Trump’s July 27 “Russia, if you’re listening…” speech that is assumed to have motivated the search, because the DNS search would have been already on-going at the time. It could also explain why Michael Sussman was on retainer for Rodney Joffe and why he could not use this fact in his defense. If this is true, then Sussman is fortunate that a not guilty verdict saved him from a misguided prosecution by Durham that should have been directed instead at Rodney Joffe.

  20. Franktoo says:

    Durham’s appointment as special counsel suggests that anyone who investigated the Trump campaign or administration is suspected of committing a crime and worthy of investigation. This is, of course, what Barr admits to believing when he became AG

    “(b) The Special Counsel is authorized to investigate whether any federal official, employee, or any other person or entity violated the law in connection with the intelligence, counter-intelligence, or law-enforcement activities directed at the 2016 presidential campaigns, individuals associated with those campaigns, and individuals associated with the administration of President Donald J. Trump, including but not limited to Crossfire Hurricane and the investigation of Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller, Ill.”

    • Franktoo says:

      With further thought, the correct thing for Barr to have done without evidence that a crime may have been committed was to have the DoJ IG review what his department had done while investigating the Trump campaign. However, that was already being done and only turned up wrongdoing by Clinesmith.

      • Desider says:

        That “wrongdoing” was altering an email believably to note what Clinesmith thought a mistake re: Page’s prior status as CIA source of some sort, and that status had lapsed for a few years, and with his by then dodgy behavior Page was rather suspect, but still should’ve been noted on FISA application. Clinesmith readily admitted his mistake, and likely shouldn’t have even been charged (IANAL), esp compared to all the conscious evil breaking of rules we’ve seen, many not charged, but so it goes.

    • timbo says:

      Wouldn’t it be great if there was another special prosecutor that had the task at looking into whether or not Barr and Durham had used the power of the government for selective persecution of political opponents who had taken honest tips on national security to the FBI? Oddly, there seem to be many who would oppose such a move…even though such an investigation would very likely have more success than Durham’s failed prosecution of Sussman?

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