Lies About Russia Still Matter – a Lot

Clinton campaign manager Robbie Mook recently admitted under oath that prior to the 2016 election Mrs. Clinton personally approved feeding the media a bogus story that Donald Trump had a back channel to Alfa Bank in Moscow.

The online magazine Slate obliged on Oct. 31, 2016, a week before the election, with the desired story. As soon as the story appeared, Clinton tweeted about it, and posted a news release that said, “This secret hotline may be the key to unlocking the mystery of Trump’s ties to Russia.” (For more detail, see CNN’s: Hillary Clinton personally approved plan to share Trump-Russia allegation with the press in 2016, campaign manager says.)

As the Editorial Board of the Wall Street Journal put it after Mook spilled the beans in federal court:

The Russia-Trump collusion narrative of 2016 and beyond was a dirty trick for the ages, and now we know it came from the top – candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton. … while this news is hardly a surprise, it’s still bracing to find her fingerprints on the political weapon.

I hope that those not satisfied with the generally sparse corporate coverage accorded the blatant "October Surprise" of Alfa Bank/Trump will be helped by what follows:

Lawyer David Sussmann, who was a key player in concocting the Alfa Bank-Trump legend, was on trial last week. He had been indicted for telling the FBI – orally and in writing — he was not working for any client while he peddled the Alfa Bank fable.

But Sussmann had been billing the Clinton campaign for his work on this. As for the FBI, it seems virtually certain that the Bureau was no more "shocked" at Sussmann’s lie than Casablanca’s Capt. Renault was at learning of "the gambling going on in here." Despite these curiosities and the preponderance of evidence, a Washington, D.C., jury returned an innocent verdict (an outcome hardly unexpected, given the jury pool in Washington, where Clinton got 90 percent of the vote).

Was Special Prosecutor John Durham oblivious to the likely outcome? Or is there "method in his madness"? I think the latter. Other evidence revealed at the Sussmann trial have left deep dents in the body armor that, thus far, has protected Hillary Clinton. True, there have been some serious chips, but no evidence quite as granular as what Mook reveals.

Thankful for Small Favors

We need to be grateful for small favors. It seems that many malefactors still fear that by lying under oath they risk ending up in prison. That applies, in my view, to functionaries like Robbie Mook.

It also applies to co-conspirators like Shawn Henry, the head of the cyber-sleuth-firm CrowdStrike, who promoted the fiction of Russian "hacking" – that is, until he was put under oath. For reasons that FBI Director James Comey never persuasively explained, he chose to defer to CrowdStrike to investigate THE cause celebre – the one that launched Russia-gate – the famous "Russian hack" of the DNC emails eventually published by WikiLeaks. Sen. John McCain called it an "act of war" by the Russians.

Sean Henry, in closed-door sworn testimony to the House Intelligence Committee on Dec. 5, 2017, admitted that there is no technical evidence that the DNC emails were hacked by Russia or anyone else. Henry testified: "We didn’t have a sensor in place that saw data leave. We said that the data left based on the circumstantial evidence." Circumstantial = consistent with what Russia (and others) do.

Inadvertently highlighting the tenuous underpinning for CrowdStrike’s "belief" that Russia hacked the DNC emails, Henry added: "There are other nation-states that collect this type of intelligence for sure, but the – what we would call the tactics and techniques were consistent with what we’d seen associated with the Russian state."

In answer to a question, Henry then delivered this classic:

"Sir, I was just trying to be factually accurate, that we didn’t see the data leave, but we believe it left, based on what we saw."

Not Really Funny

House Intelligence Committee chair Adam Schiff kept Shawn Henry’s Dec. 5, 2017 testimony locked up for two and a half years. He was forced to release it on May 7, 2020 – two years and one month ago today. (See also New House Documents Sow Further Doubt That Russia Hacked the DNC) Most of my old friends cannot bring themselves to believe the official record of Henry’s testimony, because it has not appeared in The New York Times, and they still believe the NY Times carries all the news that’s fit to print!

It gets still curiouser: Shawn Henry is a a protégé of former FBI Director Robert Mueller, for whom Henry served as head of the Bureau’s cyber crime investigations unit before he retired in 2012 and took a senior position at CrowdStrike. When CrowdStrike could find no technical evidence of a hack of the DNC, did he forget to tell his old boss, who was just beginning his investigation into Trump collusion with Russia? Hmm.

In addition, deputy head of FBI counter-intelligence Peter Strzok had almost certainly told Mueller what he told his paramour Lisa Page; namely, that after months of looking for Trump-Russia collusion, Strzok had come up empty, convinced "There’s no big there there." (Strzok was on Mueller’s team for the first few months.) It beggars belief that these folks were not talking to one another. In my view, there was plenty of "collusion" right there among U.S. top law enforcement and intelligence officials.

On August 4, 2018, I gave a talk in Seattle titled "Russia-gate: Can you handle the truth?"

It was just three months before the US mid-term elections, and (duh!) therein lay the answer to a question I could not figure out at the time: What was taking Robert Mueller so much time? Was he still trying to find some "there there"? I am now persuaded Mueller and crew were deliberating delaying release of their findings (of no conspiracy) until after the mid-term elections. Keep Trump under a heavy cloud of investigation, and the Dems would win big in November. Which, of course, they did.

August 2018 was an interesting point in time for Russia-gate. While few of my progressive audience seemed to be able to "handle the truth," it turned out that my talk got a whole lot of YouTube looks and today offers a useful backdrop for the current revelations. Most new facts have come from the courts, since investigative journalism appears "mostly dead" (as coined by Billy Crystal in The Princess Bride).

If Special Prosecutor John Durham is given his head and allowed to go deeper, we are likely to learn more – perhaps even before the coming mid-terms.

Mercouris, Nixon, and McGovern

Meanwhile, I refer you to what I believe was an interesting discussion/dissecting of the latest events, among Alexander Mercouris, Garland Nixon, and myself last Saturday:

In my view, Alexander is quite right in labeling the Alfa Bank episode a "plot" – not just a hoax.

Last but hardly least: It should go without saying that five years of the Russia-gate plot and publicity have proven consequential. A large majority of Americans have been brainwashed to hate Russians – not only by media promoters of Russia-gate, but also by security and intelligence officials of the "deep state", who have tons to cover up – and wars to promote.

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).

Author: Ray McGovern

Ray McGovern works with Tell the Word, the publishing arm of the ecumenical Church of the Saviour in inner-city Washington. In the Sixties he served as an infantry/intelligence officer and then became a CIA analyst for the next 27 years. He is on the Steering Group of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS).