John Durham’s Re-Virgined Birth of the Carter Page and Sergei Millian Investigations
The Igor Danchenko trial kicked off yesterday to contentious start, with prosecutor Michael Keilty accusing Danchenko of lying while making some, um, expansive claims about the public record, and Danchenko attorney Danny Onorato accusing Keilty of lying about the extent of the immunity Danchenko was granted for his January 2017 interviews, after which Judge Anthony Trenga admonished Onorato for overstating the extent to which Keilty overstated Danchenko’s immunization.
And then John Durham — in the flesh!! — after naming some more FBI employees so the former President could include them in another frivolous lawsuit, settled in for some rather painful direct examination of Supervisory Analyst Brian Auten.
Most of it–because it focused on events that preceded the first FBI interviews of Danchenko (and because during his interview he could not have known how much of his reports or in what form were used in the Carter Page FISA)–was irrelevant to the charges against Danchenko.
The country wasn’t served by any of this.
But along the way, we learned that Sergei Millian was once a source for the FBI, and that the investigation into Millian was closed without charges. By the end of the day yesterday, prosecutors hadn’t been permitted to raise details of the investigation into Danchenko.
About two key details, however, Durham deliberately obscured the record.
First, as the Durham team did during the Michael Sussmann trial, Durham made a big deal about the fact that Crossfire Hurricane investigation was opened as a full investigation from the start.
Q. And the FBI opened that up to say full investigation?
A. That is correct.
Q. From day one?
He did this without mentioning the hack-and-leak by a hostile intelligence service targeting Hillary Clinton, making it sound, instead, as if Australia shared the George Papadopoulos tip out of the blue, rather than in response to the seeming corroboration of the tip by the WikiLeaks publication.
John Durham never tires of minimizing Russian attacks on democracy, it seems.
As his team did during the Sussmann trial, Durham made a big deal about the fact that only at a Full Investigation could DOJ get a FISA warrant targeting Page (Durham also incorrectly suggested the primary goal of a FISA warrant is to find criminal information).
Q. Explain to the jurors, then, what tools, investigative tools, the FBI had available at that time as a result of opening a full investigation as opposed to some lesser level of —
A. With a full investigation, you are able to use the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or FISA.
Q. And are court authorized FISAs, essentially, the most powerful tool that the FBI has available and —
A. I would say one of.
The problem with this entire premise — and the problem with his attack on the Horowitz Report is that there was already an investigation into Carter Page. What FBI did, with Carter Page, was take an existing counterintelligence investigation arising out of Page’s fondness for being recruited by Russian intelligence officers, and open it as part of an UNSUB (see this post for an explanation of what that means) tied to apparent advance knowledge of an attack on democracy.
Similarly, with Millian, Durham tried to get Auten to suggest that the first investigative focus the FBI developed on Millian in 2016 was from Steele.
Q. Let me ask you this: With respect to your meeting with Mr. Steele in early October of 2016, do you recall whether or not the name Sergei Millian came up?
Q. And how did that come up?
A. Sergei Millian’s name came up as —
MR. ONORATO: Your Honor, I’m going to object.
THE COURT: Overruled. Go ahead.
BY MR. DURHAM: Q. With respect to Sergei Millian, whatever you learned from Mr. Steele in October of 2016, what, if anything, did you and your colleagues do regarding Sergei Millian?
A. Out of what we learned from Steele or from — or what came up before —
Q. With respect to Sergei Millian, whatever you learned from Mr. Steele in October of 2016, what, if anything, did you and your colleagues do regarding Sergei Millian?
A. Out of what we learned from Steele or from — or what came up before —
Q. Based on what you knew. Let’s not worry about hearsay from Steele.
A. No, no. I mean —
Q. What did you learn?
A. Millian’s name came up in the course and scope of the investigation prior to us talking to Mr. Steele.
Q. Okay. So — and this just calls for a yes or no. Did you have a — in your meetings with Steele, did Sergei Millian’s name come up?
As the DOJ IG Report revealed, by that point, Millian was already a focus of other FBI agents.
According to a document circulated among Crossfire Hurricane team members and supervisors in early October 2016, Person 1 had historical contact with persons and entities suspected of being linked to RIS. The document described reporting [redacted] that Person 1 “was rumored to be a former KGB/SVR officer.”
Again, Durham tried to create a virgin rebirth to create original harm from the dossier where it did not exist.
Unsurprisingly, Durham also didn’t elicit from Auten that Steele had called Millian a “boaster” and said he “may engage in embellishment” in that meeting, or that as described in that meeting, Steele had claimed that the Carter Page information came from his research during the period when Oleg Deripaska, not Hillary, was paying for his research.
I assume Danchenko’s team will lay all this out in cross-examination today.
It’s just rather pathetic that, in his first outing, Durham is still obscuring the public record to create harm against Trump rather than an attack against the US by Russia.
The Beatles foretold John Durham 50+ years ago!
Thank you, Dr. Wheeler, for continuing to cover this so closely and with such a keen eye for what truly matters. John Durham may believe he is on a holy crusade, but to my eye he seems to be playing a knave’s part in furthering Russia’s original intention of undermining the US. This was never all about Trump, it was about all of us, but Trump’s success (abetted by Barr and Durham) at making it about him has significantly aided in furthering Putin’s larger goal into the future.
One immediate action item that I’m not sure we’ve gotten right yet is to how not to pay Russians with US taxpayer dollars through US government agencies to seed lies and misinformation that are going to result in seven years of investigations by and of US counterintelligence assets being sent on wild goose chases as essentially a DDOS attack on our law enforcement systems.
I guess at 72 Durham isn’t too worried about his reputation.
He seems to have taken over the role played by Andrew DeFilippis in the Sussmann case, which is interesting given that he’s out of here once this case is done.
And he also seems resigned to losing the case, and intent, instead, on burning as many people as he can.
In what usually isn’t any closely-guarded secret in DC, has anyone seen DeFilippis? Which law firm bit the bullet for the man who’s claims to fame include bagging Reality Winner and choking on Sussman?
Fillippis is back at some big New York law firm. I think he worked there before he joined Durham’s team.
Sullivan & Cromwell
Ah, thank you!
I found a photo of F with the Durham crew. But I don’t know how to post it here.
Lol! Christ, if your last name is “De…” are you obligated to get hired at Sullivan & Cromwell!?!
Doesn’t Durham get to write a report for the AG before he closes shop? Or will two failed trials provide AG Garland a good excuse to skip the report and keep it out of the hands of a Republican House next year?
There isn’t going to be a Republican House next year
He has to file a final report on his way out the door, doesn’t he?
Would it be wise to read into Durham’s name-dropping a hint that Durham will be starting up more cases to keep busy with the legal distractions?
That is an excellent question—I was wondering the exact same thing when I saw your post. IANAL, but won’t be surprised if the attorneys & experts here forecast a high chance of delay & distract cases…
A five-year statue of limitations may prevent filing of new charges. IIRC, both the Sussman and Danchenko cases were filed just before this limit. Any charges brought now might need to be against the Mueller investigators.
One should never should be surprised to see someone act completely in character. With his record of delusional behavior, after retirement from the feds he could be an actual lawyer for tfg. BTW, did folks notice the word for word repetition of the question, “WRT Sergei….”. He was fucking reading it!
That’s what he does. Read his indictments.
Danny Onorato — Any connection to Tony? (Search engine not my friend here.)
No, their names look similar, but are not identical.
It’s Onorato vs Ornato
Yeah, noticed that later. Apophenia combined with dyslexia. Not enough tinfoil, I guess. Thanks for the correction.
A virgin re-birth?
Would that make it the immaculate deception?
Sorry… I’ll show myself out now…
This made me chuckle: