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Durham Says It’s Not His Fault His Former Boss Called for the Death of His Defendant

John Durham didn’t have much to say after being called out for making baseless accusations that their source Kash Patel lied about, leading the former President to suggest Michael Sussmann should be killed.

They’re not responsible for the death threats, the attorney who filed a notice of appearance in the wake of Friday’s stunt, Brittain Shaw, insists.

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

She said this even while acknowledging it might be prudent to take measures against death threats in the future.

That said, to the extent the Government’s future filings contain information that legitimately gives rise to privacy issues or other concerns that might overcome the presumption of public access to judicial documents – such as the disclosure of witness identities, the safety of individuals, or ongoing law enforcement or national security concerns – the Government will make such filings under seal. United States v. Hubbard, 650 F. 2d 293, 317-323 (D.C. Cir. 1980) (setting forth factors for considering whether the presumption of public access is overridden, including (1) the need for public access to the documents at issue; (2) the extent of previous public access to the documents; (3) the fact that someone has objected to disclosure, and the identity of that person; (4) the strength of any property and privacy interests asserted; (5) the possibility of prejudice to those opposing disclosure; and (6) the purposes for which the documents were introduced during the judicial proceedings.) The Government respectfully submits that no such issues or concerns are implicated here. [my emphasis]

The former President implied the defendant and a witness should be killed. But it’s not Durham’s fault and so he doesn’t have to deal with the fact that it happened!!

This is factually specious. Kash Patel, who was among the first to make egregiously false claims, is not a “third party.” He is the originator of this inquiry, and he knew well his statements to be false. Donald Trump, who suggested Sussmann and others should be killed, is not a “third party.” He was Durham’s boss and his demands for prosecutions are what led to Durham being appointed Special Counsel in the first place.

Plus, Durham’s team have already made the identities of some grand jury witnesses public in discovery filings.

The claim that the architects of this mob are neutral “third parties” is all the more pathetic given the excuse Shaw provides for including the false insinuation that Rodney Joffe spied on Trump’s White House rather than tried to keep the White House safe from hackers at the time it happened to be occupied by Barack Obama.

The reason they mentioned the White House, you see (Shaw claims), is because of one of the conflicts they raised.

The Government included two paragraphs of limited additional factual detail in its Motion for valid and straightforward reasons. First, those paragraphs reflect conduct that is intertwined with, and part of, events that are central to proving the defendant’s alleged criminal conduct. Second, the Government included these paragraphs to apprise the Court of the factual basis for one of the potential conflicts described in the Government’s Motion, namely, that a member of the defense team was working for the Executive Office of the President of the United States (“EOP”) during relevant events that involved the EOP. [my emphasis]

Shaw here argues that events in February 2017 are “intertwined” with an alleged crime that took place five months earlier.

She also suggests that the reason they raised the White House is because one of Sussmann’s team members worked there (Charlie Savage has now IDed the lawyer as Michael Bosworth).

I mean, so did Kash Patel, a central player in the false claims that led to the former President calling for death.

Here’s what the actual conflict memo said about that purported conflict.

Based on its review of documents in its investigation and other information, the Special Counsel’s Office also has learned that one of the members of the defendant’s current defense team (“Defense Team Member-1”) previously worked as Special Counsel to the then-FBI Director from 2013 to 2014. In connection with that work, Defense Team Member-1 developed professional and/or personal relationships with several individuals who later were involved with and/or knowledgeable of the FBI’s investigation of the Russian Bank-1 allegations. For example, Defense Team Member-1 appears to have developed a professional relationship with the former FBI General Counsel to whom the defendant made his alleged false statement and who will likely be a central witness at trial.4 While it is unlikely that these past interactions and activities will give rise to an actual conflict of interest, the Government respectfully requests in an abundance of caution that the Court inquire with the defense concerning whether Defense Team Member-1’s relationships with persons and entities who might be witnesses in this case could give rise to a potential conflict or appearance issue and, if so, whether the defendant waives any such conflict.

4 Following his employment at the FBI, Defense Team Member-1 worked from 2014 to early 2017 as an attorney in the EOP which, as noted above, was involved in certain factual issues that the Government expects will be relevant at trial and any sentencing proceedings. Latham has represented to the Government that while employed at the EOP, Defense Team Member-1 had no role in the aforementioned events or arrangements involving Tech Executive-1, Internet Company1, and/or allegations involving the purported use of Russian-made phones. The Government similarly has not seen evidence to suggest that Defense Team Member-1 had any role in, or direct knowledge of, the Russian Bank-1 allegations or the FBI’s ensuing investigation. [my emphasis]

It’s the tie to Jim Comey and through him to James Baker, not the subsequent job at the White House, that Durham’s team presented as a potential conflict — and even then, Durham’s team admits this is not likely a conflict. By this standard, several members of the prosecutorial team, not to mention the guy from whom this allegation came from, Kash Patel, have a conflict. John Durham was hired by Donald Trump; that’s a more serious conflict than anything his team spins up as one.

The White House will not be called to the stand at Sussmann’s trial. None of this is actually about the White House. As Andrew DeFilippis noted in his filing making wild claims of conflict, the White House job was not one of those conflicts. Indeed, this is yet another marker of Durham’s dishonesty. This team member, as described, was a victim of Rodney Joffe’s purportedly vicious efforts to make sure the Obama White House was not hacked. The team member only has an adversarial relationship if one believes that protecting against hacks is an adversarial stance. But that’s not how they describe the purported conflict which even they admit is not one.

Which is a pretty big hint their understanding of conflicts here is whacked beyond all reason.

Even in a terse four page motion (which I guess is one way she’s an improvement over DeFilippis), Shaw still had room for bullshit.

Having given a transparently bogus excuse for raising the White House, she then says that raising it in a conflict memo is cool because Durham plans to later raise these issues in a motion in limine (pre-trial motions about what can and cannot be presented during the trial).

In light of the above, there is no basis to strike any portion of the Government’s Motion. Indeed, the Government intends to file motions in limine in which it will further discuss these and other pertinent facts to explain why they constitute relevant and admissible evidence at trial. Pursuant to caselaw and common practice in this and other districts, the filing of documents containing reference to such evidence on the public docket is appropriate and proper, even in highprofile cases where the potential exists that such facts could garner media attention. See, e.g., United States v. Stone, 19 Cr. 18 (D.D.C. October 21, 2019) (ABJ), Minute Order (addressing the Government’s publicly-filed motion in limine seeking to admit video clip from the movie “Godfather II” that defendant sent to an associate and permitting admission of a transcript of the video); United States v. Craig, 19 Cr. 125 (D.D.C. July 10, 2019) (ABJ), Minute Order (addressing Government’s publicly-filed Rule 404(b) motion to offer evidence of defendant’s efforts to assist Paul Manafort’s relative in obtaining employment); United States v. Martoma, S1 12 Cr. 973, 2014 WL 164181 (S.D.N.Y. January 9, 2014) (denying defendant’s motion for sealing and courtroom closure relating to motions in limine concerning evidence of defendant’s expulsion from law school and forgery of law school transcript);1 see also Johnson v. Greater SE Cmty. Hosp. Corp., 951 F. 2d 1268, 1277 (D.C. Cir. 1991) (holding that there is a “strong presumption in favor of public access to judicial proceedings”). Moreover, any potential prejudice or jury taint arising from such media attention can effectively and appropriately be addressed through the voir dire process during jury selection.

1 The publicly-filed evidentiary motions and judicial rulings in each of the above-cited cases received significant media attention. See, e.g., Prosecutors Can’t Show Godfather II Clip at Roger Stone Trial, Judge Rules, CNN, October 21, 2019 (https://www.cnn.com/2019/10/21/politics/godfather-ii-roger-stone/index.html; Greg Craig Pushed to Hire Manfort’s Relative at Skadden, Prosecutors Say, POLITICO, May 10, 2019 (https://www.politico.com/story/2019/05/10/greg-craig-hire-manaforts-relative-1317600); SAC’s Martoma Tried to Cover Up Fraud at Harvard, Documents Show, REUTERS, January 9, 2014 (https://www.reuters.com/article/us-sac-martoma-harvard/sacs-martoma-tried-to-cover-up-fraudat-harvard-documents-show-idUSBREA081C720140109).

Roger Stone Roger Stone Roger Stone and Mueller, she throws in for good measure.

This is a fairly bald admission that the time to raise these issues, pretending they were relevant, would be the later 404(b) fight (over whether evidence of related conduct can be admitted at trial to help prove the case), not now, on a totally separate issue. That this might be a relevant issue later (which is itself admission that these topics are not direct evidence about Sussmann’s alleged lie and must first demonstrate relevance to even be admitted at trial) is not an excuse to use them in untimely and off-purpose fashion.

And yet that’s Durham’s excuse for saying a bunch of things that predictably led to calls for death.

According to John Durham’s logic of conflicts, he is the one with an unwaivable conflict. The guy who hired him to this job is the same guy suggesting, based off Durham’s filing, that the guy he is prosecuting should be executed.

Updated for clarity.

Update: Corrected Bosworth’s last name.

The Durham Investigation Has Lasted 50% Longer than the Mueller Investigation

It seems like just days ago we were celebrating a big milestone in the life of the Durham investigation: the 1,000 day mark.

Time flies when you’re unethically making accusations designed to rile up the frothy base, because Durham hits another major milestone today.

Today makes day 1,011 for Durham. The Mueller investigation lasted 674 days, total. So as of today, John Durham has been investigation for 50% longer than the entire Mueller investigation he was hired to undermine.

I had to highlight the end date for Mueller because it gets lost when compared to the Durham timeline.

In 22 months, Mueller got convictions of Trump’s Coffee Boy, his National Security Advisor, his Campaign Manager and the Campaign Manager’s Deputy, Trump’s personal lawyer, as well as another American and the son-in-law of Alfa Bank Oligarch German Khan. On a referral, a second Konstantin Kilimnik partner, Sam Patten pled guilty. Mueller charged 25 Russian involved in attacks on the country, as well as Kilimnik himself in a conspiracy with Manafort (though not the conspiracy for trading campaign strategy for debt relief). With another eight months, DC’s US Attorney would win Roger Stone’s conviction. None of those things — not the George Papadopoulos guilty plea, not the guilty plea of Khan’s son-in-law Alex Van der Zwaan, and not Michael Cohen’s plea to covering up the communications he had (on Trump’s behalf) with the Kremlin — derives from either the Steele dossier or the Alfa-Bank anomalies.

In half again that time span, John Durham has won the guilty plea of Kevin Clinesmith (whose misconduct DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz found), charged Michael Sussmann for lying about coordinating with Hillary staffers he didn’t coordinate with, and charged Igor Danchenko for lies that Durham’s prosecutors created, at least in part, with cut-and-paste failures. All because he’s sure — and he’s going to keep going until he finds proof — that the abundant prosecutions Mueller obtained were the fruit of stuff that Durham is working hard to criminalize and not the criminal conduct that all those Trump flunkies but Stone admitted to.

With the addition of a new financial crimes prosecutor yesterday to the Michael Sussmann prosecution team, I feel like Durham is barely getting started. Why not double the length of time it Mueller took to investigate rather than avoid admitting you can’t substantiate any of your conspiracy theories?

Indict First Interview Later: Durham’s Belated Efforts to Substantiate His Claims that Michael Sussmann Coordinated with Hillary

Among the accusations John Durham made when he charged Michael Sussmann with a single false statement count in September 2021 was that Sussmann had coordinated with the Hillary Campaign.

SUSSMANN, [Rodney Joffe], and [Perkins Coie] had coordinated, and were continuing to coordinate, with representatives and agents of the Clinton Campaign with regard to the data and written materials that SUSSMANN gave to the FBI and the media.

Coordinating with a client is not a crime. Working with a client to share suspicious data with the FBI is also not a crime. Indeed, Sussmann spent a great deal of his time in 2016 doing just that after the Hillary Campaign and several other Democratic Party committees were hacked by Russia.

The allegation that Sussmann “coordinated” with a client is included as one of three materiality claims regarding Sussmann’s alleged lie. To prove Sussmann is guilty, Durham has to prove not just that Sussmann made a willfully false claim to James Baker in a meeting on September 19, 2016, but that it mattered. One way Durham claims he will do that is, first, by proving that this effort was coordinated with the Hillary campaign and then establishing that,

it was relevant to the FBI whether the conveyor of these allegations (SUSSMANN) was providing them as an ordinary citizen merely passing along information, or whether he was instead doing so as a paid advocate for clients with a political or business agenda. Had SUSSMANN truthfully disclosed that he was representing specific clients, it might have prompted the FBI General Counsel to ask SUSSMANN for the identity of such clients, which in turn might have prompted further questions.

One of the first things Sussmann did after being charged was ask — first, informally, and then, via a Motion for a Bill of Particularswith whom on the Hillary Campaign he coordinated.

Fifth and finally, the Indictment conceals the actual identity of certain individuals and entities alleged to have witnessed and otherwise been involved in the conduct giving rise to the false statement charge, including the names of the agents and representatives of the campaign on whose behalf Mr. Sussmann was allegedly working. Id. ¶ 6. The entire animating theory of the Special Counsel’s Indictment is that, in meeting with the FBI and the other government agency, Mr. Sussmann was secretly working on behalf of Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign for president (the “Clinton Campaign”). The Special Counsel should be required to identify with which agents and representatives of the Clinton Campaign Mr. Sussmann was allegedly working so that Mr. Sussmann can adequately prepare his defense.

Counsel for Mr. Sussmann previously asked the Special Counsel to provide the detail and particulars identified above, but the Special Counsel declined to do so. The Special Counsel should not be permitted, on the one hand, to allege that Mr. Sussmann was working on behalf of the Clinton Campaign, but on the other hand, decline to identify the specific individuals with whom he was purportedly working.

7 The Special Counsel has identified virtually all of the other anonymous individuals and entities referred to in the Indictment (except, as noted above, the Agency-2 employees).

That motion was filed on October 6. In a response filed on October 20, Durham refused to provide the names of those on the Clinton Campaign with whom Sussmann coordinated, but instead pointed to these paragraphs of the indictment, only one of which even names people from the campaign, and none of which describes Sussmann speaking directly to anyone from the campaign.

d. In or around the same time period [mid-August 2016], SUSSMANN, [Marc Elias], and personnel from [Fusion GPS] began exchanging emails with the subject line, “Connecting you all by email.”

[snip]

g. Later in or about August 2016, [Rodney Joffe] exchanged emails with personnel from [Fusion GPS].

[snip]

e. On or about September 15, 2016, [Elias] exchanged emails with the Clinton Campaign’s campaign manager, communications director, and foreign policy advisor concerning the [Alfa Bank] allegations that SUSSMANN had recently shared with [Franklin Foer]. [Elias] billed his time for this correspondence to the Clinton Campaign with the billing entry, “email correspondence with [Jake Sullivan], [name of campaign manager], [name of communications director] re: [Alfa Bank] Article.” [emphasis added by Durham]

On October 20, over a month after indicting Sussmann, Durham was still refusing to name any Clinton Campaign personnel with whom Sussmann had coordinated directly.

That’s why this detail in Sussmann’s response to Durham’s conflict motion matters so much:

[T]he Special Counsel has alleged that Mr. Sussmann met with the FBI on behalf of the Clinton Campaign, but it was not until November 2021—two months after Mr. Sussmann was indicted—that the Special Counsel bothered to interview any individual who worked full-time for that Campaign to determine if that allegation was true.

When Durham refused to answer Sussmann’s requests, in September and October,  to tell him with whom on the Clinton campaign he had been coordinating, Durham still had never interviewed a single Clinton staffer. He first did so in November.

The discovery update submitted on January 25 reveals that that single Clinton staffer remained the sole Clinton staffer Durham had interviewed to that date.

Yesterday, Durham added a securities fraud prosecutor to his team, suggesting he’s going to try to change the theory of his case (I suspect, by suggesting Sussmann’s billing practices show he was trying to hide Rodney Joffe’s role).

But as I’ll lay out, there’s tons of instances of this, where Durham demonstrably failed to do basic investigative work before charging Sussmann five years after a claimed lie.

Update: Sussmann has filed his motion to dismiss. It is entirely a challenge to the materiality of his alleged lie. Motions to dismiss rarely work. He’s got good lawyers and he’s making a solid argument. Of note, he points out that Durham has never claimed that the tip wasn’t true or that Sussmann should have known it was not.

John Durham Chose to Meet with John Ratcliffe Rather than Witnesses Necessary to His Investigation

The evidence continues to mount that John Durham has done an epically incompetent investigation. I’ll pull together all that evidence later this week.

But one that I find hilarious and shocking can’t wait.

A piece written by the Fox News propagandist who played a key role in magnifying Kash Patel’s false claims over the weekend credulously continues the Murdoch effort to jack up the frothers by claiming that — rather than letting statutes of limitation expire with no charges — Durham has instead sped up his investigation. Fox also cites a single source claiming that Durham’s investigation has been run very professionally.

Special Counsel John Durham’s investigation has “accelerated,” and more people are “cooperating” and coming before the federal grand jury than has previously been reported, a source familiar with the probe told Fox News.

The source told Fox News Monday that Durham has run his investigation “very professionally,” and, unlike Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, his activities, and witness information and cooperation status are rarely, if ever, leaked.

Fox unsurprisingly doesn’t cite the part of a recent filing that makes it clear that April Lorenzen doesn’t think it has been run professionally.

In fact, this piece demonstrates that no one who would actually know whether Durham’s investigation has been conducted professionally would talk to them:

Durham’s Feb. 11 filing says that the “FBI General Counsel” will “likely be a central witness at trial.”

Baker did not immediately respond to Fox News’ request for comment.

Durham also provided grand jury testimony from “the above-referenced former FBI Assistant Director for Counterintelligence.” It is unclear to which official Durham is referring, but the title could be a reference to Bill Priestap, who served as the FBI’s assistant director for counterintelligence from 2015 to 2018.

Priestap did not immediately respond to Fox News’ request for comment.

Durham also lists “a former FBI Deputy Assistant Director for Counterintelligence.” It is unclear to whom Durham is referring.

[snip]

Strzok, who was part of the original FBI investigation into whether the Trump campaign was colluding with Russia to influence the 2016 presidential election, and later in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s office, was fired from the FBI in 2018 after months of scrutiny regarding anti-Trump text messages exchanged with former FBI General Counsel Lisa Page. Their anti-Trump text messages were uncovered by the Justice Department inspector general.

Fox News was unable to reach Strzok for comment.

[snip]

Elias’ law firm, Perkins Coie, is the firm that the Democratic National Committee and the Clinton campaign funded the anti-Trump dossier through. The unverified dossier was authored by ex-British Intelligence agent Christopher Steele and commissioned by opposition research firm Fusion GPS.

A spokesperson for Elias did not immediately respond to Fox News’ request for comment. [my emphasis]

But somebody who would speak with Fox News is John Ratcliffe, the former AUSA who misrepresented his record to get elected but who nevertheless got to be Director of National Intelligence for a short period because Ric Grenell was so much more unsuited to hold the position.

As DNI, Ratcliffe made false claims about Chinese intervention in the election as a way to downplay Russia’s ongoing efforts to help Trump. Ratcliffe is currently spending a lot of time denying that his politicized views (and delay of) a mandated election interference report played some role in January 6 conspiracy theories.

We now know that Ratcliffe should be happy to make those denials to the January 6 Committee directly and under oath — because he has apparently been very happy to chat with Durham’s investigators.

Meanwhile, this week, sources told Fox News that former Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe met with Durham on multiple occasions and told him there was evidence in intelligence to support the indictments of “multiple people” in his investigation into the origins of the Trump-Russia probe.

Ratcliffe’s meetings with Durham are significant (beyond suggesting he may be the single source who told Fox News this isn’t a shitshow investigation) because, days before Billy Barr made Durham a Special Counsel, Ratcliffe unmasked Hillary’s identity in foreign intercepts and burned collection on Russian internal intelligence analysis in order to release a report trying to insinuate that Hillary’s fairly unsurprising decision to tie Trump to Russia is what led the FBI to investigate Trump’s ties to Russia.

At issue is a report from John Ratcliffe, sent on September 29, 2020, explaining that,

In late July 2016, U.S. intelligence agencies obtained insight into Russian intelligence analysis alleging that U.S. Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton had approved a campaign plan to stir up a scandal against U.S. Presidential candidate Donald Trump by tying him to Putin and the Russians’ hacking of the Democratic National Committee. The IC does not know the accuracy of this allegation or the extent to which the Russian intelligence analysis may reflect exaggeration or fabrication.

The following week, presumably in an attempt to dredge up some kind of attack out of an absurd attack, Ratcliffe released the underlying reports that, he claimed in his original report, show the following:

According to his handwritten notes, former Central Intelligence Agency Director Brennan subsequently briefed President Obama and other senior national security officials on the intelligence, including the “alleged approval by Hillary Clinton on July 26, 2016 of a proposal from one of her foreign policy advisors to vilify Donald Trump by stirring up a scandal claiming interference by Russian security services.”

On 07 September 2016, U.S. intelligence officials forward an investigative referral to FBI Director James Comey and Deputy Assistant Director of Counterintelligence Peter Strzok regarding “U.S. Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s approval of a plan concerning U.S. Presidential candidate Donald Trump and Russian hackers hampering U.S. elections as a means of distracting the public from her use of a private mail server.”

By releasing the exhibits, Ratcliffe should raise real questions about his credibility. For example, I’m not at all sure this date, from Brennan’s notes, reads July 26 and not July 28, a critical difference for a ton of reasons.

The FBI report has a slew of boilerplate making it clear how sensitive this report was (for obvious reasons; effectively it shows that the CIA had some kind of visibility into Russian intelligence analysis), which makes it clear how utterly unprecedented this desperate declassification is. Former CIA lawyer Brian Greer discusses that in this Lawfare post.

Plus, Ratcliffe left out an unbelievably important part of the report: the role of Guccifer 2.0 in the Russian report. Intelligence collected in late July 2016 claimed that Hillary was going to work her alleged smear around neither the GRU (which had already been identified as the perpetrator of the DNC hack) nor WikiLeaks (which had released the DNC files, to overt celebration by the Trump campaign), but Guccifer 2.0, who looked to be a minor cut-out in late July 2016 (when this intelligence was collected), but who looked a lot more important once Roger Stone’s overt and covert communications with Guccifer 2.0 became public weeks later.

The report suggests Hillary magically predicted that days after this plot, President Trump’s rat-fucker would start a year’s long campaign running interference for Guccifer 2.0. Not only did Hillary successfully go back and trick George Papadopoulos into drunkenly bragging about Russian dangles in May 2016, then, Hillary also instantaneously tricked Stone into writing propaganda for Guccifer 2.0 days later.

The report never made any sense. As I noted at the time, to be true, it would require Hillary to have gone back in time to trick the Coffee Boy to learn of and pass on Russia’s plans. Worse still, the claim suggested that Roger Stone — whom FBI has evidence was in contact with the Guccifer 2.0 persona starting in spring 2016 — started parroting the same line the Russians were pushing, even before the FBI learned of it. In other words, read in conjunction with the actual evidence about 2016, the intelligence report on Russia actually suggested that Stone’s ties to Russian intelligence may have been far more direct than imagined.

But John Ratcliffe was too stupid to understand that, and everything we’ve seen about John Durham suggests he is too. That Durham has been repeatedly interviewing Ratcliffe suggests he buys Ratcliffe’s theory that this should have undermined the very real reason to investigate Trump. It also explains why, on the Sussmann indictment, Durham was so squishy about the July 2016 timeline: he needs this report to be more important than the fact that Trump stood up in public and asked Russia to hack some more (which is what led the researchers to look twice at this anomalous data).

Nevertheless, it appears that rather than interviewing witnesses who would be necessary to vet the charges he filed against Michael Sussmann, such as a single Hillary staffer, Durham has, instead, just kept going back to serial liars like Ratcliffe to renew his own conspiracy theories.

Ah well, this disclosure gives Michael Sussmann cause to subpoena Ratcliffe, just like this stunt has given him reason to subpoena Kash Patel. It’s increasingly clear that these addle-brained Republicans fed these conspiracies into Durham’s investigation, and now are magnifying them as Durham’s investigation gets exposed as incompetent, without disclosing that they’re the ones who provided the conspiracy theories in the first place.

Donald Trump Suggested Michael Sussmann Should Be Killed because Rodney Joffe “Spied” on Barack Obama

Michael Sussmann has filed his response to John Durham’s transparent attempt to inflame the frothers. In it, he notes what I did: Durham used an unrelated filing (one that, Sussmann’s filing noted, had already been addressed between the parties) to make claims that were not charged.

Importantly, he notes that Durham misrepresented the dates of the anomalous data found at the Executive Office of the Presidency that Sussmann presented at a February 9, 2017 meeting with the CIA. The data predates the Donald Trump inauguration.

In his Motion, the Special Counsel included approximately three pages of purported “Factual Background.” See Dkt. No. 35 at 2–5. Approximately half of this Factual Background provocatively—and misleadingly1 —describes for the first time Domain Name System (“DNS”) traffic potentially associated with former President Donald Trump, including data at the Executive Office of the President (“EOP”), that was allegedly presented to Agency-2 in February 2017. See id. at 3–4. These allegations were not included in the Indictment; these allegations post-date the single false statement that was charged in the Indictment; and these allegations were not necessary to identify any of the potential conflicts of interest with which the Motion is putatively concerned. Why then include them? The question answers itself.

1 For example, although the Special Counsel implies that in Mr. Sussmann’s February 9, 2017 meeting, he provided Agency-2 with EOP data from after Mr. Trump took office, the Special Counsel is well aware that the data provided to Agency-2 pertained only to the period of time before Mr. Trump took office, when Barack Obama was President. Further—and contrary to the Special Counsel’s alleged theory that Mr. Sussmann was acting in concert with the Clinton Campaign—the Motion conveniently overlooks the fact that Mr. Sussmann’s meeting with Agency-2 happened well after the 2016 presidential election, at a time when the Clinton Campaign had effectively ceased to exist. Unsurprisingly, the Motion also omits any mention of the fact that Mr. Sussmann never billed the Clinton Campaign for the work associated with the February 9, 2017 meeting, nor could he have (because there was no Clinton Campaign). [my emphasis]

Not only must Durham know the true dates of the data involved but so — as I’ve noted — must Kash Patel, who has known about this issue for four years. That means Patel insinuated that Hillary’s associates hacked Trump, knowing full well the claim was false.

And it led the former President to claim that those involved should be killed.

Sussmann has asked Judge Christopher Cooper to strike the improper language from the motion.

He has also provided yet more evidence that Durham didn’t take basic investigative steps necessary to vet the allegations he made in the indictment before actually indicting Sussmann. Durham didn’t interview any Clinton Campaign staffer to find out whether Sussmann coordinated with the campaign until after the indictment.

[T]he Special Counsel has been investigating for years, and some of the Special Counsel’s “ongoing” investigation seems to be work that should have been completed before indicting Mr. Sussmann. For example, the Special Counsel has alleged that Mr. Sussmann met with the FBI on behalf of the Clinton Campaign, but it was not until November 2021—two months after Mr. Sussmann was indicted—that the Special Counsel bothered to interview any individual who worked full-time for that Campaign to determine if that allegation was true. It is not.

As I noted earlier, Durham had to admit that he had no basis to substantiate claims of coordination with the Hillary Campaign in a filing last year. But that was October. It was not until after he had to confess he had overblown that claim in the indictment that Durham first interviewed a Hillary staffer.

In his filing, Sussmann makes it clear he intends to move to dismiss the indictment.

In addition, Mr. Sussmann reserves all rights to submit appropriate motions and seek appropriate relief concerning this conduct should the Indictment not be dismissed and should the case proceed to trial, including by seeking extensive voir dire about potential jurors’ exposure to prejudicial media resulting from the Special Counsel’s irresponsible actions.

If he keeps to the original filing deadline, that motion will be submitted this Friday. While not normally a basis to dismiss an indictment, Sussmann will be able to present entire swaths of proof that Durham didn’t take basic investigative steps before accusing Sussmann of things that turned out not to be true.

And now he’ll be able to point back to this filing to show that Durham misrepresented basic facts that might get someone killed.

Update: I managed a whole appearance on MSNBC without potty mouth.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And he did nothing about them.

Well. He did do something.

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

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

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

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

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

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

MS. RUEMMLER: With respect to the DNC?

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

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

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

Q Yeah, I don’t mean that.

A — who was there.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Right

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

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

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

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

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

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

MS. RUEMMLER: Yes.

[Discussion off the record.]

MR. SUSSMANN: Thank you.

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

[The reporter read the record as requested.]

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

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

That’s what Kash was looking for.

Okay.

Sussmann explained, noting that this was classified.

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

Kash asked about the CIA meeting.

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

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

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

A February 2017.

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

A From a client of mine.

Q Why did you go [to CIA]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

John Durham, Ask Not for Whom the Statute of Limitation Tolls …

As he did with Igor Danchenko, John Durham has raised a potential conflict as a way to air his conspiracy theories so he can jack up the frothy right. In this case, he describes an uncharged meeting at which Michael Sussmann, who no longer had anything to do with the DNC, shared an updated version of the Alfa Bank allegations with the CIA on February 9, 2017.

The Indictment further details that on February 9, 2017, the defendant provided an updated set of allegations – including the Russian Bank-1 data and additional allegations relating to Trump – to a second agency of the U.S. government (“Agency-2”). The Government’s evidence at trial will establish that these additional allegations relied, in part, on the purported DNS traffic that Tech Executive-1 and others had assembled pertaining to Trump Tower, Donald Trump’s New York City apartment building, the EOP, and the aforementioned healthcare provider. In his meeting with Agency-2, the defendant provided data which he claimed reflected purportedly suspicious DNS lookups by these entities of internet protocol (“IP”) addresses affiliated with a Russian mobile phone provider (“Russian Phone Provider-1”). The defendant further claimed that these lookups demonstrated that Trump and/or his associates were using supposedly rare, Russian-made wireless phones in the vicinity of the White House and other locations. The Special Counsel’s Office has identified no support for these allegations. Indeed, more complete DNS data that the Special Counsel’s Office obtained from a company that assisted Tech Executive-1 in assembling these allegations reflects that such DNS lookups were far from rare in the United States. For example, the more complete data that Tech Executive-1 and his associates gathered – but did not provide to Agency-2 – reflected that between approximately 2014 and 2017, there were a total of more than 3 million lookups of Russian Phone-Provider-1 IP addresses that originated with U.S.-based IP addresses. Fewer than 1,000 of these lookups originated with IP addresses affiliated with Trump Tower. In addition, the more complete data assembled by Tech Executive-1 and his associates reflected that DNS lookups involving the EOP and Russian Phone Provider-1 began at least as early 2014 (i.e., during the Obama administration and years before Trump took office) – another fact which the allegations omitted.

The frothy right is very excited that, among the data that someone heavily involved in cybersecurity like Rodney Joffe would have ready access to, was data that included the White House. They seem less interested that, to disprove the allegations Sussmann presented, Durham effectively (in their frothy minds) conducted the same “spying” on EOP networks of President Obama that Durham insinuates Joffe did of Trump.

Remember: This meeting is not charged. It’s not clear such a meeting with the CIA could be charged. Durham presents zero evidence Sussmann knows anything about the comparative value of this data, either.

That’ll become important in a bit.

The conflicts Durham raises to justify this filing are a bit more interesting than the ones he raised with Danchenko. Latham Watkins used to represent Perkins Coie and Marc Elias in this matter, now they represent just Sussmann, and Elias will be asked to testify about instructions Sussmann got about billing records in his representation of the DNC. Latham represented the DNC. Latham represented Sussmann in December 2017 House Intelligence testimony that significantly undermines Durham’s indictment (and shows that the allegations at the core of this indictment originally came from Kash Patel, who by the time of trial may be charged for his participation in helping Trump attempt a coup). Latham also provided Perkins Coie advice regarding a PR statement that, Durham admits, he’s not been able to pierce the privilege of and he knows those who made the statement had no knowledge that could implicate the statement in a conspiracy. Somebody on Sussmann’s team used to work at the FBI and then worked for the White House. Those are the conflicts — more substantive than the ones Durham raised about Danchenko, but probably nothing that problematic.

Which makes the relative timing of this filing all the more interesting.

With Danchenko, Durham raised the potential conflict, first, at a status hearing less than two weeks after Stuart Sears filed a notice of appearance for Danchenko, and then again, in a filing two weeks after Sears filed, for a less pressing imagined conflict involving different lawyers in Sears’ firm.

With Sussmann, Durham waited for almost five months after indicting Sussmann to raise the conflict, even though all but one element of the imagined conflict would have been immediately apparent to Durham, not least that Latham had previously represented Elias.

That doesn’t seem to reflect any real burning concern about this conflict.

But, as noted, it did give Durham an excuse to float previously unreleased information that may not even come in at trial, given that it’ll have to be presented as 404(b) evidence and it, in fact, as presented, undermines the claim that Sussmann was hiding his ties to Hillary from the Federal government.

If the information doesn’t come in at trial, this may be Durham’s only chance to jack up the frothy right with it.

And that’s interesting because of the date of that CIA meeting: February 9, 2017, five years and two days before Durham filed this belated notice of a conflict.

As I keep noting, Durham is obviously trying to pull his fevered conspiracy theories into an actual charged conspiracy, one tying together the DNC, Fusion GPS, Christopher Steele, and Hillary herself. If he succeeds, these flimsy charges (against both Sussmann and Danchenko) become stronger, but if he doesn’t, he’s going to have a harder time proving motive and materiality at trial.

After charging Sussmann on almost the last possible date before the statute of limitations expired for his claimed lie to the FBI, though, Durham would need something on which to hang a continuing conspiracy to be able to charge the others. One of those events could have been the PR statement issued in 2018, which Durham says is inaccurate.

Privilege logs and redacted emails obtained from Law Firm-1 in this investigation reflect that in the days before the issuance of these statements, Latham attorneys sent, received, and/or were copied on correspondence relating to the drafting and dissemination of the statements. (Much of the substance of those emails was redacted and withheld from the Special Counsel’s Office pursuant to Law Firm-1’s assertion of attorney-client privilege and attorney work product protections). Because the defendant was aware of and/or reviewed these media statements, the Government may seek to offer them as evidence pursuant to Rule 404(b) or other provisions of law to establish that the defendant sought to conceal the Clinton Campaign’s ties to the Russian Bank-1 allegations from the FBI and others.3

3 According to counsel for Law Firm-1, the attorneys at Law Firm-1 and Latham who participated in drafting and/or reviewing these statements were unaware at the time that the defendant had billed work on the Russian Bank-1 allegations to the Clinton Campaign.

Except, as laid out here, none of the Perkins Coie people involved in writing the statement knew how Sussmann had billed his time. And Durham hasn’t found a reason to otherwise pierce the privilege claims that went into the drafting of the statement.

So that’s probably not going to work to establish his continuing conspiracy.

The other event on which Durham might have hung a continuing conspiracy was that February 9 meeting. It involved updated work from Joffe, after all. And Durham claims Sussmann again deliberately hid who his client was rather than (as he now knows Sussmann did for tips from Jofffe that had nothing to do with Donald Trump) just shared a tip anonymously.

But instead of rolling out what Sussmann presented in that February 9 meeting five years and two days ago in a conspiracy indictment, Durham instead packaged it up in a filing pertaining to a potential conflict. This February 9 meeting, it appears, won’t be the hook on which Durham gets to charge a conspiracy.

I’m not saying that Durham won’t be able to pull together his grand conspiracy. He might next point to testimony in Congress (possibly Glenn Simpson’s) to claim that there was some grand cover-up of what he imagines was an attempt to smear Donald Trump. Except, as this filing admits, Sussmann’s sworn testimony to the House Intelligence Committee shows that when asked — by future coup investigative subject Kash Patel — Sussmann testified consistently with sharing this information on behalf of Joffe, which is what Sussmann’s currently operative story remains. Durham did suggest he thinks he can show Sussmannn misled members of Congress because he claims it was, “knowingly and intentionally misleading insofar as it failed to disclose that the defendant billed work on the Russian Bank-1 allegations to the Clinton Campaign,” except (as with the alleged lie more generally) that’s not what he was asked about.

By all means, John Durham, make Kash Patel a witness at your trial. Give Sussmann an opportunity to ask how Kash came to learn of this meeting in the first place, to say nothing about whether Kash has recently been involved in efforts to overthrow the US government.

Whatever Durham hopes to use to sustain the claim of a continuing conspiracy, this filing seems to concede that the lies Durham claims Sussmann told in that meeting that took place five years and a few days ago will not be charged.

Ask not for whom the statute of limitations toll, John Durham. They toll for you.

The John Durham Investigation Turns 1,000 Days Old Today

By my math, today marks the 1,000th day after Bill Barr first appointed John Durham to undermine the Russian investigation on May 13, 2019. Today marks a major new milestone in Durham’s effort to substantiate the conspiracy theories Barr sent him off chasing years ago.

The Durham investigation has now lasted 326 days longer than the Mueller investigation, not quite half again as long. But I’m sure Durham will last the 11 days required to hit that milestone, too.

At this stage in the aftermath of the Mueller investigation, Billy Barr had started his campaign to undo all punishment arising from it. January 2020 was the month when Barr took the first steps to protect Flynn from the new crimes he had committed in his effort to blow up his past prosecution by appointing Jeffrey Jensen to review the Flynn prosecution — an effort that would end with DOJ admitting that they had altered some notes.

Durham, by contrast, has had a productive last month. Four months after indicting Michael Sussmann, he learned that Sussmann had provided at least one other anonymous tip on behalf of Rodney Joffe, in addition to the one Durham has labeled a crime. Durham also discovered two phones used by James Baker, which he had never before bothered to look for in DOJ IG custody, precisely where he had been told one of them was years earlier.

At the rate Durham is discovering basic things he should have learned years before indicting Sussmann (and, probably, Igor Danchenko), he might be prepared to make a responsible prosecutorial decision about whether to charge these cases in another two years or so.

Update: Typo in table fixed.

By Popular Demand: John Durham Claims His Memory Is More Skewed than James Baker’s

I’ve already written three posts about last week’s remarkable filings (one, two) by John Durham. First I showed that John Durham didn’t even know about a prior anonymous tip Michael Sussmann shared with DOJ (in this case, the Inspector General) on behalf of Rodney Joffe, showing that four months after Durham indicted Sussmann, he still has no understanding of the normal relationship between Sussmann, Joffe, and DOJ. Then I marveled that Durham would take a junket to Italy to get Joseph Mifsud’s dated phones but never walk across DOJ to get the James Baker phones he had forgotten that DOJ IG had. Finally, I offered a possible explanation for Durham’s confession that April Lorenzen thinks his lawyers have been bullying her.

But in spite of the multiple ways I’ve covered these serial confessions of some weaknesses to Durham’s case, I’ve gotten multiple requests for something else: A comparison of how Durham now describes his own frail memory with what he claims about Baker’s.

As I laid out here, Durham is forced to deal with the fact that his single witness against Sussmann gave sworn testimony that materially conflicts with the allegations against Sussmann. To do so, Durham will (and already has) argued that Baker’s descriptions of the a September 2016 meeting he had with Sussmann closer to the date of the meeting are less reliable than the ones after more time passed.

As an initial matter, the defendant’s motion provides a skewed portrayal of the purported Brady evidence at issue by cherry-picking excerpts from the substantial discovery the Government has already provided to the defense. The defendant, for example, alleges that FBI General Counsel James Baker “contradict[ed] the Special Counsel’s allegation that Mr. Sussmann affirmatively [said] he was not meeting with him on behalf of any clients” in (i) a 2019 interview with the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Inspector General, and (ii) a 2020 interview with the Special Counsel team. (Mot. at 3). But as the defendant is aware from discovery, both of those interviews occurred years after the events in question, and Mr. Baker made these statements before he had the opportunity to refresh his recollection with contemporaneous or near-contemporaneous notes that have been provided to the defense in discovery. Indeed, the defendant’s motion entirely ignores law enforcement reports of Mr. Baker’s subsequent three interviews with the Special Counsel’s Office in which he affirmed and then re-affirmed his now-clear recollection of the defendant’s false statement.

Durham is actually soft-pedaling the extent of the problem. He’s saying that Baker’s memory in two separate appearances in 2018 (two years after the meeting), an appearance in 2019 (three years after the meeting), and the first meeting with Durham in 2020 (almost four years after the meeting) is less reliable than four later interviews, conducted under threat of prosecution, with Durham’s team.

Whatever: According to Durham — at least when it comes to key witnesses whose testimony you need to say a certain thing to fit your conspiracy theory — refreshed memory is better than memory closer to the events.

But here’s what Durham says — when trying to correct an earlier incorrect statement — about his own memory:

Paragraph 10(a)(ii) states: “[I]n early January 2022, the Special Counsel’s Office learned for the first time that the OIG currently possesses two FBI cellphones of the former FBI General Counsel to whom the defendant made his alleged false statement, along with forensic reports analyzing those cellphones.” Id. The Government wishes to provide some additional context for this statement.

After reviewing the Special Counsel’s Office’s public filing, the DOJ Office of Inspector General (“OIG”) brought to our attention based on a review of its own records that, approximately four years ago, on February 9, 2018, in connection with another criminal investigation being led by then-Acting U.S. Attorney Durham, an OIG Special Agent who was providing some support to that investigation informed an Assistant United Attorney working with Mr. Durham that the OIG had requested custody of a number of FBI cellphones. OIG records reflect that among the phones requested was one of the two aforementioned cellphones of the thenFBI General Counsel. OIG records further reflect that on February 12, 2018, the OIG Special Agent had a conference call with members of the investigative team, including Mr. Durham, during which the cellphones likely were discussed. OIG records also reflect that the OIG subsequently obtained the then-FBI General Counsel’s cellphone on or about February 15, 2018. Special Counsel Durham has no current recollection of that conference call, nor does Special Counsel Durham currently recall knowing about the OIG’s possession of the former FBI General Counsel’s cellphones before January 2022. [my emphasis]

For witnesses under threat of prosecution, Durham says, refreshed memory is better than the original.

For Special Counsels caught in a false statement, however, that kind of refreshment is useless for reminding someone of inconvenient facts.

John Durham Suggests April Lorenzen Thinks He Bullied Her

In a truly hysterical self-own, the Federalist’s Margot Cleveland read this John Durham filing and (in addition to claiming that Marc Elias’ grand jury appearance must mean he testified to crime-fraud excepted matters even though he previously testified publicly about this matter without any such exception) predicted that the “corrupt media” would soon quote “false charges” of threats and intimidation “by this weekend.”

Then she quoted precisely those charges.

In addition to detailing all of the information the special counsel’s office had already provided Sussmann or would shortly, in requesting an extension to finish discovery, Durham’s team stressed the breadth of Sussmann’s discovery demands and the transparency with which those demands were met.

For instance, Sussmann’s attorneys requested “all of the prosecution team’s communications with counsel for witnesses or subjects in this investigation, including, ‘any records reflecting any consideration, concern, or threats from your office relating to those individuals’ or their counsels’ conduct…and all formal or informal complaints received by you or others’ about the conduct of the Special Counsel’s office.”

After noting that “communications with other counsel are rarely discoverable,” the government said it expects to produce responsive documents later this week. But the special counsel office added, “it is doing so despite the fact that certain counsel persistently have targeted prosecutors and investigators on the Special Counsel’s team with baseless and polemical attacks that unfairly malign and mischaracterize the conduct of this investigation.”

For instance, “certain counsel have falsely accused the Special Counsel’s Office of leaking information to the media and have mischaracterized efforts to warn witnesses of the consequences of false testimony or false statements as ‘threats’ or ‘intimidation,’” Durham explained to the court.

In other words, with Sussmann’s lawyers soon to receive this cache of complaints against Durham’s team, watch for the corrupt media to be quoting those false charges by this weekend, spinning a narrative of a corrupt special counsel’s office.

Cleveland was, as far as I saw, the first to quote those charges and one of the only ones to do so before the weekend. But given that, in the past, she has presented evidence that undermined Durham’s conspiracy theories without admitting that they did, I’d say she qualifies for her own designation as corrupt. A self-fulfilling prediction!

That said, I suspect that Durham is trying to get ahead of something potentially more problematic.

In the Sussmann indictment, Durham needlessly referred to April Lorenzen — who had used the pseudonym “Tea Leaves” to speak of the Alfa Bank allegations in 2016 and who could have been referred to by that same pseudonym here — by the moniker “Originator-1.” That introduced additional confusion and with it implied, without charging Lorenzen, that she had made up the anomalous data at the core of the allegation. It’s sort of like referring to someone by the pseudonym “Forger-1” or “Lady-with-the-Knife-1” in an indictment; it respects DOJ’s rules against naming uncharged individuals, but does so in such a way that insinuates wrong-doing.

Indeed, in the indictment, Durham repeatedly called the anomalous data “purported,” barely hiding that he believes Lorenzen manufactured the data, even though a shit-ton of evidence from later in 2016 makes it clear Lorenzen believed the anomaly was real and important.

Durham’s treatment of Lorenzen is all the more problematic given that she was among those that, this NYT story credibly argued, Durham had cited out of context in the indictment.

The indictment quotes August emails from Ms. Lorenzen and Mr. Antonakakis worrying that they might not know if someone had faked the DNS data. But people familiar with the matter said the indictment omitted later discussion of reasons to doubt any attempt to spoof the overall pattern could go undetected.

[snip]

The indictment suggested Ms. Lorenzen’s reaction to the paper was guarded, describing an email from her as “stating, in part, that it was ‘plausible’ in the ‘narrow scope’ defined by” Mr. Joffe. But the text of her email displays enthusiasm.

“In the narrow scope of what you have defined above, I agree wholeheartedly that it is plausible,” she wrote, adding: “If the white paper intends to say that there are communications between at least Alfa and Trump, which are being intentionally hidden by Alfa and Trump I absolutely believe that is the case,” her email said.

So Lorenzen has good cause to be miffed with Durham’s insinuations in the indictment.

Which brings us to the passage that Cleveland face-planted on.

Durham brags that he has been so kind as to respond to Sussmann’s request for records suggesting that Durham’s team might be bullying or bribing witnesses.

On December 10, 2021, the defense requested, among other things, all of the prosecution team’s communications with counsel for witnesses or subjects in this investigation, including, “any records reflecting any consideration, concern, or threats from your office relating to those individuals’ or their counsels’ conduct. . . and all formal or informal complaints received by you or others” about the conduct of the Special Counsel’s Office.” Although communications with other counsel are rarely discoverable, especially this far in advance of trial, the Government expects to produce certain materials responsive to this request later this week. The Government notes that it is doing so despite the fact that certain counsel persistently have targeted prosecutors and investigators on the Special Counsel’s team with baseless and polemical attacks that unfairly malign and mischaracterize the conduct of this investigation. For example, certain counsel have falsely accused the Special Counsel’s Office of leaking information to the media and have mischaracterized efforts to warn witnesses of the consequences of false testimony or false statements as “threats” or “intimidation.” Despite the inflammatory and unfounded nature of these accusations, the Special Counsel’s Office intends to produce these materials to the defense to avoid any suggestion that it seeks to conceal these communications for some bad purpose.

Sussmann made this request after having been shown — months after he was indicted — James Baker’s interview reports with Durham’s team, which Sussmann’s lawyers noted at a December 8 status hearing had radically changed from his past sworn statements. Sussmann’s lawyers made it clear they may argue at trial that Baker’s testimony changed because Durham threatened to charge the former FBI lawyer if he didn’t change his story. And that’s clearly why, just days after seeing how dramatically Baker’s sworn testimony did change, Sussmann made this discovery request. Sussmann wants to test whether Durham has been pressuring witnesses — Baker, as well as others — to back Durham’s baseless conspiracy theories.

Durham is turning over this material not, as he suggests, out of the spirit of generosity. Rather, he’s turning it over because, to survive as Special Counsel long enough to write his report, he needs to avoid giving Merrick Garland cause to fire him. Sussmann has effectively put Durham on notice that he’s going to ask every witness whether they were bullied to tell a false story. And if Durham were to sit on records even hinting at such bullying, withholding them in discovery when the complaint is bound to come out at trial would provide Garland that cause for firing.

Which makes it all the more interesting that Durham stated he had included reports of calls with Lorenzen’s lawyer specifically.

numerous reports of phone calls between the Special Counsel team and counsel for several witnesses or subjects in this investigation, including counsel for the individual referred to in the Indictment as “Originator-1;”

Complaints from Lorenzen would be neither Jencks — the requirement to provide the interview reports and grand jury testimony from witnesses the prosecution plans to call at trial — nor Giglio — the requirement to tell defendants about any benefits witnesses received for their testimony. That’s because Durham is treating Lorenzen as a subject of the investigation, not a witness. Like all Fusion employees, Rodney Joffe, and all but one employee of the Clinton Campaign, she is not listed as having been interviewed. That suggests either that Durham still wants to charge Lorenzen as part of his conspiracy charge or that he tried to subpoena her and she told him she’d invoke the Fifth. (According to an earlier Sussmann filing, Durham has immunized at least one witness and he could do so with Lorenzen as well if he really wanted her testimony.)

Of course Lorenzen has a complaint. While I don’t think Durham leaked her identity (he doesn’t need to because there’s a whole slew of researchers, including suspected Russian agents, who guarantee anything he says will soon be attached to a name), he improperly included insinuations about Lorenzen not backed by any evidence as part of his grand conspiracy theory about why Sussmann lied. He has done real reputational damage to Lorenzen without presenting any evidence to back such damage.

Durham provided Sussmann whatever complaints she made about the reputational harm he had done to cover his ass — to ensure it doesn’t get him fired — because Sussmann has the ability to obtain (and may have already obtained) such records from Lorenzen directly.

For now, then, Durham has protected himself.

But if it were to come out, as I think is likely, that DOJ has in its possession information about someone who claimed to have brokered one of the more incendiary parts of the Alfa Bank story, someone who fabricated other Internet routing data in May 2016 (the month that, Alfa Bank claims, its own data started getting spoofed), it might make any bullying Durham has done of Lorenzen the kind of thing that would be actionable against Durham. All the more so if Durham had not provided such information in discovery to Sussmann (which would be shocking, but I’m getting used to being shocked by Durham’s incompetence).

Durham has covered his ass, for now. But if it came out that Durham insinuated Lorenzen had fabricated this data even though DOJ knows of a more likely candidate to have done so, that would cause all sorts of new problems for him.