On the Belated Education of John Durham

In a filing on September 2 in the Igor Danchenko case, John Durham confirmed that Danchenko had been a paid FBI source from March 2017 through October 2020.

In March 2017, the FBI signed the defendant up as a paid confidential human source of the FBI. The FBI terminated its source relationship with the defendant in October 2020.

I had heard this — though not with the sourcing such that I could publish. Apparently it was news to the frothers, who’ve been wailing about it ever since. Here’s Margot at the Federalist Faceplant, Jonathan Turley, and Chuck Ross at his new digs at the outlet that first hired Christopher Steele. Here’s the former President during an obsequious Hugh Hewitt interview.

Danchenko’s status was implicit in a lot of what is public. Even absent the frothers doing any kind of journalism, or even critical thinking, what did they think this reference in Danchenko’s motion to dismiss meant?

The government had unfettered access to Mr. Danchenko for approximately four years following his first interview in January 2017, and not once did any agent ever raise concerns about the now purportedly contradictory post-call emails.

As I hope to show in a follow-up, it actually makes a lot of sense.

Meanwhile, in Danchenko’s response to that filing, he revealed that information he provided to the FBI was used in a memorandum supporting the opening of an investigation into Charles Dolan, one of Durham’s star witnesses against Danchenko. (Note, this reference stops short of saying that the FBI did open an investigation into Dolan, just that someone proposed doing so.)

[T]he Special Counsel ignores, and conceals from this Court, that Mr. Danchenko was interviewed dozens of times and during the course of those interviews, particularly when asked specific questions about Dolan (which was not often), Mr. Danchenko (1) told the FBI about the Moscow trips with Dolan, (2) told the FBI that Steele knew of Dolan, (3) told the FBI that not only was Dolan doing work with Olga Galkina but that Mr. Danchenko himself had introduced them, and (4) told the FBI that Dolan had connections and relationships with high-level Kremlin officials, including President Putin’s personal spokesperson, Dmitry Peskov. Indeed, when agents drafted a December 2017 communication in support of opening an investigation into Dolan, they included the information Mr. Danchenko provided them as support for opening the investigation. 3 [emphasis original]

This may not be the last surprise investigation we hear about. Back in the original filing on September 2, Durham argued he should be able to talk about the 2008 allegation that led to a counterintelligence investigation into Danchenko, in part, because (Durham predicted bitterly) Danchenko will likely raise investigations into others, plural, who will “feature prominently at trial.”

[T]he Government expects the defense to introduce evidence of FBI investigations into other individuals who the Government anticipates will feature prominently at trial. Thus, the introduction of the defendant’s prior counterintelligence investigation – should the defense open the door – does not give rise to unfair prejudice that substantially outweighs its probative value.

Effectively, Durham is arguing that if Danchenko points out that Durham’s witnesses should not be considered reliable based on suspicions they were working for Russia’s interests, then he should be able to point out that Danchenko was once similarly suspected as well. Durham also wants to point out that Dolan twice asserted that Danchenko might be a Russian spook, but also allegedly always knew of his role at Orbis — assertions that, in tandem, could actually hurt Durham’s case, given the subsequent disclosure that Dolan was investigated himself. Durham may not understand that, yet.

One of these people whose investigation Danchenko will raise at trial is undoubtedly Sergei Millian, whose cultivation of George Papadopoulos in exactly the same time period Danchenko claims to have believed he spoke to Millian was one of a number of things the FBI investigated starting in 2016.

Danchenko’s response to Durham’s demand that he be allowed to raise the 11-year old counterintelligence investigation into Danchenko (besides providing a somewhat different timeline) was basically to say, “Bring it!” He intends to raise that counterintelligence investigation himself, he claims. Note: Durham doesn’t note, but it is clear from the January interviews of Danchenko, that FBI interviewers probed Danchenko about that prior investigation in their very first interviews in 2017.

As noted, I hope to return to all this dizzying spy-versus-spy shit in a follow-up. By then we’re likely to have several more disclosures, plus some details about the known investigation into Millian.

This all shows there was not a shred of prosecutorial discretion exercised before charging Danchenko. Even if Danchenko had done grievous harm to the US, no sane prosecutor would have charged this case with such easily impeached witnesses. Even Durham now seems to understand his materiality claims are flimsy. And yet, to prove a five year old false statements allegation, he has forced the government to declassify a whole range of sensitive material, including this detail about Dolan.

And that process apparently continues to be a struggle for Durham (as I predicted it would be).

Consider the timeline implied by Danchenko’s footnote about the Dolan revelation. Danchenko claims that he only just learned about the Dolan investigation opening memo.

3 The December communication is highly exculpatory with regard to the essential element of materiality and it is not clear why it was only produced 30 days from the start of trial. It was produced as Jencks material (also late by the terms of the Court’s Order requiring all Jencks to be produced by September 1) but is obviously Brady evidence. The defendant understands that the CIPA procedures may have slowed the production of certain categories of discovery but given the Indictment’s allegations about the materiality of Mr. Danchenko’s failure to attribute public information to Dolan, the production of this specific document should have been a priority for declassification.

When Danchenko says that Counterintelligence Information Procedures Act may have slowed the production of this, he’s suggesting (charitably) that someone at DOJ took a long time to release this information to Durham and that Durham had no control over that process. That’s another thing I predicted in this post about how CIPA would affect this case: “it can end up postponing the time when the defendant actually gets the evidence he will use at trial. So it generally sucks for defendants.”

The trial starts on October 11. This footnote suggests that Danchenko only received this information 30 days before trial, so around September 11, in the week before he filed this. Whenever it was disclosed, if he received it after the September 1 deadline, that would make it too late for the September 2 deadline for Danchenko’s own motion to dismiss. It would put it after Durham’s September 2 filing — the one bitching about how much of the trial Danchenko will use to focus on the investigations into witnesses, plural, against him — which means the plural reference may not have incorporated Dolan. Danchenko would have learned about this over a month after his own deadline to lay out what classified information he intended to use at trial, and at least a week after the August 30 CIPA conference, at which the two sides debated about what classified information Danchenko should be allowed to use at trial.

It also comes after a series of delays in Durham’s classified discovery. In May, I described what was publicly billed as the last one.

It’s that record that makes me so interested in Durham’s second bid to extend deadlines for classified discovery in the Igor Danchenko case.

After Danchenko argued he couldn’t be ready for an April 18 trial date, Durham proposed a March 29 deadline for prosecutors to meet classified discovery; that means Durham originally imagined he’d be done with classified discovery over six weeks ago. A week before that deadline, Durham asked for a six week delay — to what would have been Friday. Danchenko consented to the change and Judge Anthony Trenga granted it. Then on Monday, Durham asked for another extension, this time for another month.

When Durham asked for the first delay, he boasted they had provided Danchenko 60,000 unclassified documents and promised “a large volume” of classified discovery that week (that is, before the original deadline).

To date, the government has produced over 60,000 documents in unclassified discovery. A portion of these documents were originally marked “classified” and the government has worked with the appropriate declassification authorities to produce the documents in an unclassified format.


Nevertheless, the government will produce a large volume of classified discovery this week

This more recent filing boasts of having provided just one thousand more unclassified documents and a mere 5,000 classified documents — for a case implicating two known FISA orders and several past and current counterintelligence investigations.

To date, the Government has produced to the defense over 5,000 documents in classified discovery and nearly 61,000 documents in unclassified discovery. The Government believes that the 5,000 classified documents produced to date represent the bulk of the classified discovery in this matter.

Danchenko waited six weeks and got almost nothing new.

But then on August 16, Durham filed a supplemental CIPA filing, suggesting there were more substitutions of classified information he wanted Judge Anthony Trenga to approve (a supplemental filing is not, by itself, unusual).

The point is, for months, Durham kept saying he’d have all the secrets delivered to Danchenko by his new deadline in June, promise, and then he dropped this bombshell on Danchenko just weeks before trial.

In the August 29 hearing on all this, Judge Trenga deferred most CIPA decisions until after Danchenko files a new CIPA filing on September 22 — so if any of this remains classified, Danchenko still has a chance, with just days notice, to argue he needs it at trial. They’ll fight about these issues again on September 29.

But given Durham’s performance in the Sussmann case, it’s not entirely clear these missed classified deadlines are DOJ’s fault. After all, Durham never even asked DOJ IG for relevant discovery in Sussmann’s (and therefore, we should assume, this) case until after Sussmann was charged. He didn’t investigate Rodney Joffe’s true relationship with the FBI and other agencies until Sussmann asked him to. He didn’t ask Jim Baker for his own iCloud content until early this year, after belatedly rediscovering Baker phones he had been told about years ago.

It’s not just his belated request for information from DOJ IG that we know to have affected this case too. Durham also has never interviewed George Papadopoulos — not before he went on a junket to Italy chasing Papadopoulos’ conspiracy theories, and not since. Thus, Durham never tested whether Millian’s cultivation of Papadopoulos undermines his evidence against Danchenko — and it does, obviously and materially.

Because of Durham’s obvious failures to take the most basic investigative steps before charging wild conspiracy theories, there are several possible explanations why he’s only providing Danchenko news of this Dolan memo a month before trial:

  1. Someone tried to hide this from Danchenko and ultimately was overridden. If that’s the explanation, it makes Andrew DeFilippis’ August departure from the team and, according to the NYT, DOJ, all the more interesting.
  2. DOJ delayed the time until they let Durham disclose this because of some sensitivity about the investigation. Recall that Dolan has ties to Putin spox Dmitri Peskov, who was sanctioned earlier this year, followed by his family.
  3. Durham didn’t know.

The last possibility — that Durham had no fucking clue that one of his star witnesses had been (at least considered) for investigation — is entirely plausible. It’s entirely consistent with what we saw in the Sussmann case, though worse even than that case in terms of timing.

Durham came into this investigation treating the conspiracy theories of Papadopoulos and Trump as credible. He seems to have believed, all along, that Sergei Millian was a genuinely aggrieved victim and not someone playing him, for at least a year, for a fool. He seems to have decided that he knew better than FBI’s experts about who had credibility about Russia and who didn’t. Along the way he forced the FBI to cut its ties with Joffe and — given the October 2020 cut-off of Danchenko’s ties to the FBI, probably Danchenko as well. He did all this with a lead prosecutor who believed it was problematic for DARPA to investigate the Guccifer 2.0 persona used by the GRU.

Durham walked into this investigation believing and parroting, without first testing, Trump’s claims that the Russian investigation was abusive. Based on those beliefs, he chased all manner of conspiracy theory in an attempt to allege pre-meditation and malice on the part of Hillary and everyone else involved with the dossier. His Sussmann prosecution ended in humiliating failure. This prosecution, win or lose, may do worse for Durham’s project: it may reveal unknown details about Russian efforts to tamper in 2016, efforts that harmed both Republicans and Democrats alike.

The Durham prosecutions have been shitshows and undoubtedly a disaster for those targeted. It’s not yet clear what will happen with the Danchenko trial (or even whether it will go to trial; given that CIPA issues still have to be resolved, there’s still a chance Durham will have to dismiss it rather than going to trial). Durham will still write a report that may try to resuscitate his conspiracy theories that were disproven in the Sussmann trial.

But thus far, the actual record of the Durham investigation shows that when actually bound by the rules of evidence, when actually obligated to dig through DOJ’s coffers to discover what DOJ learned as it tried to understand Russia’s intervention in 2016, reality looks nothing like the conspiracy theories Durham has chased for three years.

John Durham’s education process has been a painful process for all personally involved (except maybe Sergei Millian, gleefully dicking around from afar). But along the way he’s debunking many of the conspiracy theories he was hired to sustain.

Update: Chuck Ross is outraged that I suggested his boss had paid for Steele (and lying that I said Paul Singer paid for the dossier, which I pointedly did not say). It is true that the payment for Fusion GPS’ Trump project had shifted to Perkins Coie before Steele first sent Danchenko to Russia.

It’s also true that, based on length of project, Ross’ current boss paid for much of Nellie Ohr’s work on Trump’s ties to Russia, which includes some of Fusion’s early work on Paul Manafort and Felix Sater, and possibly early work on Millian (she continued to work on Millian until she left Fusion).

And since Chuck is so upset, I should point out that his former co-columnist, Oleg Deripaska, also reportedly paid for Steele’s work (in that case, research on Paul Manafort), though also through the cut-out of a law firm.

59 replies
  1. Yogarhythms says:

    John D’s Ticonderoga No2 pencil is as sharp as ever. Poised above a yellow legal pad about to nail to-the-wall a dangerous felon with just this piece of evidence- Rut Roh “He seems to have decided that he knew better than FBI’s experts about who had credibility about Russia and who didn’t.” Conclusions are not important and your conclusions preceded your deliberative processes and you ended up here at emptywheel.net an example of tfg’s coterie of sycophants sliding under the busses wheels.

  2. Klaatu Something says:

    In my youth, I did the “Daily Kos” “Balloon Juice” God-Knows-What blog parade but the only one I now read with regularity and enthusiasm is this, even if I don’t understand all of it

    Thanks for doing this and keep up the Great Work!

    • J R in WV says:

      I used to read D Kos quite a bit, back while I was still working and had a hi-speed internet. But then I found Balloon-Juice, which is a difficult to describe combination of photography, politics, legal issues (tho never in the depth ET Wheel dives into court documents), music and theater, creative arts, etc. But most importantly Balloon-Juice is a social blog where people know one another, can rant today and mutually admire tomorrow. We hear of a medical procedure schedule and hope and pray it turns out well for the Juicer involved. Some are trivial, a cracked bone in a hand, back trouble, some are cancer treatment or a CT scan to see what’s wrong with my lower abdomen, last Friday morning. It seemed to go well, a small injection of idodine-based dye into a vein, my divan moving me into and through the ring of power peering into my fibers, my tubules and organs in my lower abdomen The worst pain was the back of my heels against a hard edge of the platform. They told me to drink a lot of water to flush the
      Urinary tract of the iodine based dye which I was injected via a IV port in my wrist.

      \The bg machine would nstruct me to take a deep breath and hold it, then I would pass through the big ring of sensors to gain data from inside me. AFter the end of the pass, the machine would say, now breathe. and I would. I think 3 or 4 times I was moved into the ring of data sensors, told to take a deep breath and hold it,and moved out of the ring of sensors. When it was over, I didn’t get to see anything, I guess the specialist will want to show me anything diagnostic about my health. I am curious about people insides, so I will certainly ask him to show me my personal anatomy.

      A dear old friend had total prostate removal some 15 years ago. He has followup exams still, and is friendly with the surgeon who removed his cancerous tissues. He still has sexual and urinary effectiveness, and so feels well treated…

      Friday our well plumbing was rewired completely… evidently the last 33 years of operation was a fluke that ended last week, when a professional pump installer studied the existing wiring and decided that couldn’t be the way he leaves it. We got much plumbing installed, a new 70 gallon pro water heater, a new plumbing under the kitchen sink. Then the pump picked gritty black sand and bllew it into all the joints and valves of the whole house’s plumbing, so thinks were clogged up.

      Then yesterday both the water pump was out, and the gas line from the meter near the water well was off. No heat, no fuel for the generator if the power goes out. No cook stove. I think something moved somewhere along the pipeline, both pipes run together in a common trench for about 800 feet…

    • JohnJ says:

      I discovered EW when a FireDogLake article by Dr.W. popped up in the news.google aggregate pages.

      I like to think she saved my sanity, I was afraid no one else was seeing what I was seeing.

      The blogs all linked there finally confirmed that I was NOT in the minority of opinion. Other people were outraged as well.

      This NS stuff is important to me. When I turned 22, I had the lowest security clearance at the family dinner table with a top secret. Those of us that lived that life of working on classified stuff all must be having near panic attacks seeing those unsecured documents. They once detained a couple of poor office cleaners in my area of the building for 8 hours because one of the engineers left a file cabinet open when they came in and emptied the waste basket. Document mishandling procedures are brutal.

      I find the analysis here calming, I check it every day. This is the only place that covers NS without the hyperbole. Thank you everyone.

  3. Fancy Chicken says:

    While I feel pretty confident than Durham is gonna flop on his fat mustache as hard as he did in the Sussmann trial, especially with that toad DeFillippis gone, I have annoying concerns about this “report” Durham is to present at the end of the year.

    I know Garland has discretion over to make it public or not, but it feels like he will have to to appease the MAGAt crowd, but it’s I think assured it will also be Durham’s conspiracy swan song allowing TFG and the true believers to continue their asshattery. I just don’t see a way for Garland to allow the report to be made public even with redactions, without the MAGTs howling, that won’t be used to justify all the noxious, and unproven conspiracy tripe.

    • Rugger9 says:

      Garland will have to present something, but I would expect he’ll also provide an explainer. I don’t think Garland will pull a Barr and provide a ‘summary’ but I’m sure a point-by-point takedown of Durham’s claims is coming. I would not be surprised that Durham leaks his report to Faux News first.

    • Ginevra diBenci says:

      I wonder if missing more deadlines might be Durham’s passive-aggressive method of sabotaging the Danchenko case in regards to taking it to trial. As Dr. Wheeler makes so brilliantly clear, he is setting himself up for another and perhaps more spectacular public failure. This time the media might well pay attention, if only because the Trump documents issues seem stalled pending appeals at least until after midterms.

      If Durham can manage the old sleight of hand trick of pulling the rug out from under his own feet, without making it publicly obvious that a missed trial is entirely due to his failures, I could imagine Garland facilitating such a maneuver. (Covering for him, essentially.) Could Durham propose something like a plea deal to Danchenko? Not that Danchenko would or should take it, but DOJ (through Durham) seems pretty desperate now.

      The remaining problem is the report, as Fancy Chicken notes. Durham will aim for the right-field rhetorical fences, with the goal of supplying grist for Fox’s (or Newsmax’s) mill, and maybe a book deal for himself. Can Durham publicize it himself should Garland choose not to? Garland’s main concern seems to be political appearances, so it’s not likely he would “censor” Durham.

  4. ThomasH says:

    AG Garland could follow in the footsteps of “Ol’ Honest Billy” Barr and deliver a “summary” of Durham’s final report. A summary designed to obfuscate and bury the actual report.

    Rugger9 beat me to the Barr comparison while I was writing this.

  5. Scott Rose says:

    Durham, Shmurham.
    “The origin” of the Russia investigation is that Trump is demonstrably compromised by Putin.
    U.S. intelligence agencies acted to protect the United States.
    That’s the origin of the Russia investigation.

    • bmaz says:

      Your evidence/proof is exactly what?

      Again, the sheer amount of ranting and conspiracy horse manure that has come from new interlopers like you is beyond tiring. When we stop such bullshit, it will be because of this.

      • Scott Rose says:

        Note that I made no personal attack against you (though I think you have been repeatedly, and profoundly wrong in your assessments of Merrick Garland.)
        As long as you’ve asked for evidence that Trump is compromised by Putin . . .
        Throughout the 2016 campaign, Trump insisted to the American public that he had no pending business deals in Russia.
        We now know that that was a lie. (Our intelligence agencies knew it was a lie, at the time Trump was saying it.)
        Trump in that period in fact was attempting to close a deal for a major tower in Moscow, for which he needed Putin’s approval.
        Ergo, Putin had LEVERAGE over Trump.
        Putin knew that Trump didn’t want Americans knowing that he, Trump, was trying to secure a deal for a tower in Moscow.
        Putin could say, or cause to be communicated to Trump, the idea that “Either do what I’m asking you to do, or I’ll cause the American public to know you have been lying about your pending business deal in Moscow.”
        And in any event, in the meanwhile Trump was publicly praising Putin as a “strong” leader, flattering him in an attempt to get him to view his pending business deal favorably.
        American foreign policy, policy towards Ukraine, and national security should never have been in any way dependent on “Trump wants to build a tower in Moscow,” yet it was.
        This is just one of dozens of FACTS wherein Trump is known to be compromised vis-à-vis Putin. It is a FACT that Trump lied when he said he had no pending business deals in Moscow. It is a FACT that Trump’s lying about that gave Putin leverage over Trump.

        • Unabogie says:

          I feel like you both are talking past each other. He listed several ways in which Trump’s actions compromised himself w/r/t Russia. Are you saying there’s no evidence of that? Or are you objecting to a different question?

          Perhaps instead of terse answers, flesh out your questions so he can address specific issues you have with what he wrote. If you’re right, I have no doubt Scott will concede the point.

        • Rayne says:

          Evidence: An Overview
          Evidence is an item which a litigant proffers to make the existence of a fact more or less probable. Evidence can take the form of testimony, documents, photographs, videos, voice recordings, DNA testing, or other tangible objects. Courts cannot admit all evidence, as evidence must be admissible under that jurisdiction’s rules of evidence (see below) in order to be presented to court. In federal court, evidence is governed by the Federal Rules of Evidence. A court may exclude evidence because it is not relevant, hearsay, or otherwise inadmissible. …

          The rest of the overview is available at this link at Legal Information Institute at Cornell U.

          Scott Rose is spouting beliefs, not offering evidence.

        • Unabogie says:

          Sure, but then it would be nice to be specific about where evidence was lacking, especially by asking clarifying questions. I’d love for people to interrogate bad reasoning with good reasoning instead of insults.

        • Rayne says:

          Who started this? If somebody’s going to pipe up with a claim with insufficient sources to back their claim, it’s on them.

        • Unabogie says:

          Looking back, he made two claims.

          First, that Trump is compromised. Second, that the IC was acting in defense of America. I guess I’m having trouble seeing why that deserves this reaction?

          I’ll drop out here.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          One might start with whether he offered evidence for the first, and how the second relates to that assertion and the, so far, missing evidence.

        • Rayne says:

          Please. You have a whopping 25 comments under your belt at this site and apparently haven’t yet learned how these comment threads work.

          Take a seat.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          The assertion that Trump was working on a business deal in Moscow is not evidence of it. Nor is it evidence of to what extent Putin might have had leverage over Trump or to what extent he used it or threatened to use it.

          That Trump went out of his way to destroy presidential records relating to his dealings with Putin suggests there’s evidence there, but it’s not proof of it.

          Then there’s that Trump’s potential exposure to pressure from Russia might go back decades. One business deal might be the tip of a large fat berg.

        • Riktol says:

          Good luck with that seeing as Bmaz is involved.

          [If you don’t like the way this site operates, you can find the exit. I’m not going to put up with bashing the moderation which keeps down trolls. /~Rayne]

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          Why it wasn’t built, and when and who made that decision, might be very relevant to the claimed leverage Putin had/has over Trump.

          I don’t doubt that it’s there, but I have no evidence of where it comes from or how it was used, and might still be used.

          That Trump attempted to organize a large project in Moscow and failed doesn’t go very far without more evidence. One thing more evidence might do is make alternative, less incriminating explanations much less probable.

        • Rayne says:

          Look, we’re not going to go through all of the Special Counsel’s investigation in this thread. You want to re-read everything posted here, start with the 1400 posts under the category “Mueller Probe.

          But the topic of this thread is about John Durham and his hacktacular investigations which are far more narrow.

          You have 27 comments here so far. Take a seat until you learn more about this site. Really effing tired of this latest batch of n00bs with less than 100 comments here trying to tell this site what’s what while adding little new to discussion.

          That goes for Scott Rose (22 comments) and Unabogie (25 comments) as well. Your behavior isn’t helping your cred.

        • Arun says:

          Help me here – I thought that an investigation is started to develop evidence that can be presented to a jury. But can an investigation be started only if there is some piece of evidence that can be presented to a jury?

          I’d think investigations can be started based on intelligence information that may not be presentable in court for a variety of reasons.

        • Rayne says:

          I suspect depending on the device, operating system, and browser that Scott Rose can’t see he is not inserting a necessary additional return between paragraphs.

        • Unabogie says:

          Additionally, while Trump was publically claiming to have had zero dealings with Russia and that it was not in any way clear that Russia was behind the hacks, his son and son-in-law were holding meetings in his own building to discuss gaining Russia’s help in the election. This is another way that Trump was compromised, since Putin had concrete evidence of collusion that he could leak if he wanted to. In fact, TPM recently had a story about how this exact scam was run by Trump in New York, in which Trump would dangle free tickets to some sports event to a journalist, and if they took the tickets, he’d go to their bosses and accuse them of asking for bribes. So once he’d accepted this help, he would have instantly recognized the predicament he was in.

          Hence, compromised.

        • Alan Charbonneau says:

          Although not everything I would consider to be evidence would have to the kind that could be used to obtain a verdict of guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, I try to use that as a guideline.

          Trump’s “mob speak” could potentially be evidence used in a court of law,, but I think it would require prosecutors to link his statements directly towards certain actions and it would likely require a witness to attest to the meaning of Trump’s coded words.

          If you can’t get the point across to a jury, it’s a sign that more info is needed. Your analysis may be spot on, but incomplete. For example, your analysis that Trump is compromised is correct, but it doesn’t raise it to the level of evidence that Crossfire Hurricane was started by any of those things. An opinion based in facts and a reasonable one, but it falls short of evidence.

          Bmaz is touchy since Twitter is full of “Raise your hand if you agree that would be a good day to indict Trump” and he doesn’t want that here. 😁

        • Alan Charbonneau says:

          Although not everything I would consider to be evidence would have to the kind that could be used to obtain a verdict of guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, I try to use that as a guideline.

          For example, Trump’s “mob speak” could potentially be evidence used in a court of law,, but I think it would require prosecutors to link his statements directly towards certain actions and it would likely require a witness to attest to the meaning of Trump’s coded words.

          I think that if you can’t get imagine successfully arguing the point to a jury, it’s a sign that more info is needed. Your analysis may be spot on, but incomplete. For example, your analysis that Trump is compromised is correct, but it doesn’t raise it to the level of evidence that the “origin of the Russia investigation is that Trump is demonstrably compromised by Putin”. Crossfire Hurricane was not started by any of those things. Your opinion about Trump being compromised is based on facts that and it’s a reasonable one, but it still falls short of evidence needed to prove your assertion.

          Please note that bmaz is a little touchy since Twitter is full of “Raise your hand if you agree that today would be a good day to indict Trump” and he doesn’t want that here. 😁

    • Rugger9 says:

      Umm… No. The one being looked at under Crossfire Hurricane was put in motion by ‘coffee boy’ Papadopolous spouting off to an Aussie agent who then put the five-eyes process in motion.

      Unless you’re thinking of the myriad Carter Page contacts with the Russians combined with hazy sources of income.

      Both of those guys are Trumpistas and both involved direct actions of great suspicion. Peddle your misinformation and ‘just asking questions’ dreck elsewhere, please. I hear Truthiness Social needs users.

      • Scott Rose says:

        Exactly. The fact that Trump’s 2016 campaign let Russians know they were open to clandestine assistance with the election compromised Trump vis-à-vis Putin.

        The correct move for a U.S. campaign clandestinely approached by a foreign actor who proposes illegal activities (such as trafficking in communications stolen from another U.S. campaign) is to report the approach to the FBI.

  6. Unabogie says:

    Durham’s investigation sounds very close to the accusations Geoffrey Berman has made about investigations into people like John Kerry. Trump would see something on Fox News, send people into action to activate actual DOJ resources, and then watch the minions scurry around and abuse their authority to turn the Justice Department into his own personal grievance avenger.

    In this case, he found a willing accomplice in Durham, who just won’t drop the whole mess until he gets to release his big manifesto.

  7. John Paul Jones says:

    “The origin” of the Russia investigation is that Trump is demonstrably compromised by Putin. U.S. intelligence agencies acted to protect the United States. That’s the origin of the Russia investigation.”

    Perhaps. But none of your list of “FACTS” speak directly to your initial claim because there is no direct link between the “FACTS” and the IC doing its regular job. The link is your assumption.

    If I were writing a novel, then the fact of a wealthy businessman being compromised by the Russians would have (maybe via a couple of subplots and some to-ing and fro-ing of various characters) immediate consequences – for the businessman, for the Russians and for the IC members trying to “prove” the reality of the connection between Russian aims and the behaviour/statements of the businessman. Because that’s how fiction works, by streamlining the messy reality of the world into something that can be digested in a few hours of page-turning, and which has a structure (5-acts, 3-acts, Freytag’s pyramind or whatever) so that readers can follow along. The problem is that people all too often expect real life to somehow reflect those fictive structures, and when they see one end of a structure reflected in something that happens in the real world, they leap to the conclusion that the rest of the fictive structure must also be present within those events.

    But it may not be. And if you want to show that it is, you need evidence. Saying that “Putin knew” or “Putin could have” is not evidence. It’s transposing a fictional structure onto real world events.

    Humans love narrative. It helps them make sense of a confusing reality. But we too often appeal to our sense of narrative structure as if it were somehow inside the world, as if the world ran on those rules. All conspiracy theories I’ve encountered are based in a narrative understanding of some sort, a story about a structure under the world which only the conspiracist has the wit to see. The essence of the conspiracist’s delusions is that he/she substitutes narrative rules for evidence. It takes an effort of will not to do this because, as I said – just my opinion – humans are hard-wired for narrative and see its traces everywhere.

    • Eastern Ash says:

      “The problem is that people all too often expect real life to somehow reflect those fictive structures . . . .”

      I well understand this most perceptive cautionary point . . . briefly succumbing myself to the fictive structures of a compromised national leader, on viewing the U.S. President publicly vouch for the integrity of Vladimir Putin’s denial of Russian involvement in U.S. elections, notwithstanding conclusions to the contrary by the President’s own intelligence agencies.

    • Scott Rose says:

      The 2016 Trump campaign expressed openness to entering into a criminal conspiracy with Russian agents.

      Alerted to that, U.S. intelligence agencies acted to protect the U.S.

      That is the origin of the Russia investigation.

      These are not “assumptions” or “conspiracy theories.”

    • Paulumba says:

      Thank you! Your discussion about narrative’s role in conspiracy is quite enlightening and it highlights the problems faced. This discussion nicely responds to Scott Rose and Unabogie’s earlier comments.

      Thank you also to EW for this blog site. It is always informative and I am constantly better understanding the difficulties of our current situation vis-à-vis Trump world. Thank you Ms Wheeler for dedication and all your hard word. I am a better person from reading here.

  8. Peterr says:

    “We don’t make mistakes. We just have happy accidents.”
    –Bob Ross*

    By the Bob Ross Standard, Durham is possibly the happiest prosecutor in DOJ history.

    *I don’t think Bob is any relation to Chuck.

  9. John Lehman says:

    Bob didn’t have any trouble selling his lessons or his paintings…

    Poor Durham’s lessons and illustrations the market won’t buy.

  10. Zinsky says:

    Excellent summary and analysis of the latest twist in the Durham farce – TY. I am hoping I can possibly add a little bit to the back-and-forth on the origins of the Trump-Russia investigation. Before the Steele dossier became public, the Guardian reported that the British GCHU had received evidence of contacts between Trump officials and Russians in late 2015:


    The British intelligence was augmented by Estonian, Polish and Germany intelligence. Also, in your Update section, you note that Oleg Deripaska paid to have background investigatory work on Paul Manafort. I find that fascinating since Manafort allegedly signed a multi-million dollar consulting contract in 2006 with him. I would have thought that he knew everything about Manafort and essentially “owned” him. Here is a link to an AP article about this:


    It will be very interesting to see what comes out in Danchenko’s trial!

    • Molly Pitcher says:

      Thank you for posting the link to those articles. It is interesting to read them from the perspective of 2022.

  11. Commentmonger says:

    I am hoping after Durham writes his report, that Barr sends out an executive summary Memo telling us what it means.

      • Ginevra diBenci says:

        If you mean Durham making the rounds, that’s what I expect. Hadn’t thought about Barr doing it on Durham’s behalf, which would really amount to Barr re-marketing himself to the MAGA audience (and perhaps their king) as someone on their side.

        • Rayne says:

          I think Barr will want to continue to brush up his image and he has to salvage something from Durham’s appointment since it happened on his watch. He’ll continue to position himself as a fixer.

        • Rayne says:

          Aw, Barr may be too busy doing PR for the Trump org family to do it for Durham.

  12. Frank Probst says:

    Is this all going to boil down to a bunch FBI 302 reports and Danchenko’s e-mails? That’s what this is sounding like to me. There may be a few cameos here and there with varying levels of credibility, but this is sounding like yet another prosecution that’s based on the exact wording of several statements with no recordings of the statements.

  13. Jeffrey Gallup says:

    Interesting that the Danchenko case is mostly about ambiguous statements that may or may not be provable false.

    I am curious if anyone has wise counsel on how the judge will likely rule on the defense’s motion to dismiss and Durham’s motion in limine to include various stuff.

    My non-expert thought is that much (but maybe not 100%) of Durham’s motion will be denied as extraneous fluffery (a precise legal term, I’m sure), but that none of the counts against Danchenko will be dismissed – the jury will be allowed to decide.

    • Ginevra diBenci says:

      The core of Danchenko’s defense is arguing against the *materiality* of those statements, much the way Sussmann’s did.

  14. Riktol says:

    Is it general practice to provide exculpatory (Brady?) material at the beginning of discovery, or is providing it at the last minute normal behaviour?
    Also if, Durham provided it to Danchencko after he filed his motion to dismiss, can Danchencko file another motion to dismiss, or ask to modify the first one?

  15. Pedro P says:

    Durham’s task is basically to investigate the investigators. We haven’t seen much of that. Perhaps there is nothing there, it does seem odd he’s focused on Danchenko, Sussmann and Clinesmith but not some of the agents that IG Horowitz already suspected of mischief.

    • Rugger9 says:

      It’s not clear who you mean, like Strzok, his girlfriend, McCabe, etc.? As Rayne notes above there is a whole lot of posts and information on the Mueller probe that should be reviewed first.

      But if I look at this through the prism of Individual-1’s well-known proclivity for vengeance I’m wondering how they escaped being charged by Durham even if they had bupkis to do with Russia probes.

      • Ginevra diBenci says:

        But that’s the thing: like Trump, Durham is focused only on discrediting the “Russia probes.” Hence none of the other criminality matters; it fails to further their narrative, which is indeed the controlling element of all of this.

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