Special Council John Durham’s indictment of Hillary Clinton campaign lawyer Michael Sussmann met differing reactions Friday from the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal. Those who may still think it was Russia that "interfered" with the 2016 election owe it to themselves to read the Sussmann indictment/charging document.
Spoiler: It was the very top officials of the Clinton campaign aided by a lawyer crooked as a hound’s hind leg that interfered in 2016. The tricks tried by Sussmann and associates might make even GOP "strategists" like Lee Atwater and Karl Rove blush.
One must recall that back in 2016 the Clinton campaign folks and their well-heeled coterie of attorneys were sure Mrs. Clinton would win. As the Sussmann charging document shows, there was some expectation of high-level posting in the "incoming" Clinton administration and – alas – absolutely no thought of indictment. This goes a long way to explain the brazenness of it all.
As discredited former FBI Director James Comey put it in his apologia-sans-apology book, A Higher Loyalty, "I was making decisions in an environment where Hillary Clinton was sure to be the next president …" Needless to say, a Clinton presidency would confer automatic immunity on key campaign miscreants and lawyers like Sussmann. Worse still for them, it appears likely that others of their breed may also find themselves criminally referred to the Department of Justice.
Were the stakes not so high, one might find it amusing how hard the Times tries to stanch the stench of that long-dead red herring about Donald Trump colluding with the Russians and blaming his victory on – inter alia – Russian "hacking". But the stakes remain high, and too many people are still suffering from Mad-Maddow/Trump Derangement Syndrome, with the attendant dangers of adding to the current high tension with nuclear-armed Russia.
In Friday’s article, Times authors Charlie Savage and Adam Goldman bend over backwards in an attempt to "make the worse case the better." Socrates was accused (falsely) of precisely that, but there is no sign yet that anyone at the Times is about to take the hemlock.
In contrast, The NY Times pettifoggery is absent from today’s Wall Street Journal authoritative piece by the Journal’s Editorial Board, titled "Durham Cracks the Russia Case."
Referring to the Sussmann indictment, the Journal editors write:
"This is no ho-hum case of deception. The special counsel’s 27-page indictment is full of new, and damning, details that underscore how the Russian collusion tale was concocted and peddled by the Clinton campaign. …
"Sussmann is accused of making false statements to then-FBI general counsel James Baker in a Sept. 19, 2016 meeting when he presented documents purporting to show secret internet communications between the Trump Organization and Russia-based Alfa Bank.
"The indictment adds new details about the sweeping nature of the Clinton campaign’s effort to falsely tag Donald Trump as in bed with the Russians. The document alleges this extended far beyond the opportunity-research firm Fusion GPS and the fake "dossier" produced by Christopher Steele – though both played a role in the broader effort."
"Campaign Lawyer-1" mentioned in the indictment has been identified as former Perkins Coie lawyer/Clinton campaign general counsel, Marc Elias. The indictment makes clear that Elias brought up to date Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook, communications director Jennifer Palmieri and foreign policy adviser (now Biden’s national security adviser) Jake Sullivan a few days before Sussmann is said to have lied to the FBI. The latest news is that more indictments may be in the offing.
Yesterday came additional information suggesting that Durham has still more up his sleeve. A new set of subpoenas is reported to have been served on Perkins Coie after Sussmann was charged.
So it seems possible – just possible – that special counsel John Durham may be allowed to proceed to full-scale prosecution – this time. His record, however, counsels caution. He had the goods on CIA torturers, for example, and sneaked meekly off when he was told to stop. And so it goes.
Ray McGovern works with Tell the Word, a publishing arm of the ecumenical Church of the Saviour in inner-city Washington. His 27-year career as a CIA analyst includes serving as Chief of the Soviet Foreign Policy Branch and preparer/briefer of the President’s Daily Brief. He is co-founder of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS).