If Durham Seeks To Serve Russiagate Justice, Will AG Garland Let Him? | Opinion

Will the American people receive justice for Russiagate?

If justice is to be meted out, will Attorney General Merrick Garland let it be done?

Observers like myself, having witnessed the machinations of the Deep State and its auxiliaries over the last five years, have long lamented the answer is "No."

We have seen the likes of the Comeys, McCabes and Strzoks, and the principals they served, not only pay little price for their roles in one of the great scandals in American history—the weaponization of the law enforcement and intelligence apparatus against a dissenting candidate and his confidantes, and then his White House—but be feted and rewarded for their efforts, to boot.

Pessimism has only grown amid the deafening silence of U.S. Attorney John Durham's special counsel investigation. Durham's sole indictment, as of earlier this month, resulted in a less-than slap on the wrist for a former FBI attorney who doctored an email critical to the warrant used to justify spying on former 2016 Trump campaign advisor Carter Page. Even an egregious crime committed by a bit player yielded nothing more than a year's probation and 400 hours of community service—as determined by the presiding judge on the very Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court defrauded by the lie in the doctored email.

But now, the Durham Special Counsel has broken the silence with a stunning indictment foretelling a broader Russiagate case implicating many more significant targets. The catch? Durham faces a deadline: The special counsel is set to terminate this Thursday unless Attorney General Merrick Garland extends it.

Two weeks before the deadline, the Durham special counsel brought charges against former 2016 Hillary Clinton campaign lawyer Michael Sussmann.

The single count charged to Sussmann was straightforward: He knowingly lied when, in September 2016, he visited the general counsel of the FBI under false pretenses and spun him what would turn out to be a bogus story of a secret communications channel between the Trump Organization and Russia's Alfa-Bank.

Sussmann allegedly claimed he was not disclosing this information to the FBI on behalf of any client when he was. In fact, he was serving two clients: Clinton's campaign, as well as an unnamed tech executive conducting opposition research on Trump in coordination with Sussmann, the campaign and its law firm. Needless to say, this would have been a material lie. Sussmann has pled not guilty, but the evidence against him looks overwhelming.

The single count is part of a 27-page "speaking indictment" suggesting a conspiracy by the Clinton campaign to concoct a story of Trump-Russia collusion, feed it to the national security and law enforcement apparatus to spur an investigation, and weaponize the media to launch an associated information warfare campaign—all in a bid to destroy Trump's candidacy, and later his presidency.

By covering details like who the Clinton campaign enlisted in its opposition research efforts, how the dirt was obtained, what the parties knew about its credibility when they determined to disseminate it to the government and media, and the roles of the various players in the operation, the indictment implies that more crimes were committed and that more indictments may be forthcoming.

We find out revelations like these:

The unnamed tech executive who worked with Sussmann and the Clinton campaign directed employees at two companies he had ownership interests in "to search and analyze their holdings of public and non-public [read: private] internet data for derogatory information on Trump."

Outrageously, those working with that unnamed tech executive also exploited data that had been provided to it by the executive branch of the U.S. government as part of an effort to, according to the indictment, "protect U.S. networks from cyberattacks...to conduct research concerning Trump's potential ties to Russia, including the Russian Bank-1 [Alfa-Bank] allegations that SUSSMANN would later convey to the FBI."

After Sussmann fed the FBI the bogus Alfa-Bank story in September 2016, in November of that year the unnamed tech executive:

...claimed to have been previously offered a position in the government in the event Hillary Clinton won the Presidency, stating in an email days after the U.S. Presidential election: "I was tentatively offered the top [cybersecurity] job by the Democrats when it looked like they'd win. I definitely would not take the job under Trump."

He said this, knowing what he was peddling was dubious. Emails in the indictment show the tech executive claiming, before the initial contact with the FBI, that the Trump-Alfa Bank server story was a "red herring."

One of his researchers told him in an August 2016 email:

...[Y]ou do realize that we will have to expose every trick we have in our bag to even make a very weak association?...The only thing that drive[s] us at this point is that we just do not like [Trump]. This will not fly in [the] eyes of public scrutiny. Folks, I am afraid we have tunnel vision.

Nevertheless, the effort persisted.

U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland speaks during
U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland speaks during a news conference to announce a civil enforcement action at the Department of Justice September 9, 2021 in Washington, DC. Alex Wong/Getty Images

This is a fraction of what the indictment exposes, solely concerning one aspect of the Russian collusion narrative's underpinnings.

The biggest bombshell may be this: One Clinton campaign official who coordinated with Sussmann "with regard to the data and written materials that SUSSMANN gave to the FBI and the media" was its "foreign policy advisor."

Paul Sperry, my colleague at RealClearInvestigations, reports that foreign policy advisor was Jake Sullivan—President Biden's national security advisor (NSA).

Per Sperry, Sullivan "figures prominently" in Durham's grand jury investigation, and is "facing scrutiny," his sources say, "over potentially false statements he [Sullivan] made about his involvement in the effort, which continued after the election and into 2017."

Sperry's report indicates Sullivan was briefed on the development of the opposition-research materials tying Trump to Alfa-Bank, and was aware of the participants in the project, seemingly consistent with the Sussmann indictment.

Yet Sullivan pleaded ignorance under oath in 2017 House testimony to numerous questions about the Clinton campaign's opposition research efforts, including who was involved in them. These contradictions suggest Sullivan may have perjured himself.

Amazingly, given what we now know, on the eve of the 2016 election, Sullivan put out a statement promoting the bogus Trump-Alfa Bank story in response to a report from Slate apparently fed to it by Clinton campaign opposition research firm Fusion GPS—the firm behind the notorious Steele dossier, and likely one of the unnamed entities referenced in the Sussmann indictment.

"This secret hotline may be the key to unlocking the mystery of Trump's ties to Russia," Sullivan said.

Hillary Clinton retweeted the statement, writing "Computer scientists have apparently uncovered a covert server linking the Trump Organization to a Russian-based bank."

The Sussmann indictment demonstrates how imperative it is for Durham's investigation to be permitted to proceed. The very cause of justice itself hangs in the balance.

If the justice system is as politicized as it appears, one can assume that Garland might extend it for the wrong reasons: Better to avoid needlessly creating a political headache for an effort unlikely to result in any meaningful heads rolling than not. The Sussmann indictment itself hints at this in that it focuses more on the culpability of the originators of the Russian collusion narrative outside government—including, at the time, Sullivan—than it does the officials inside it who ran with the narrative, knowing how baseless it was, in hunting Team Trump.

It is more than reasonable to be skeptical of the Durham special counsel's commitment to vigorously pursue anyone and everyone who committed crimes associated with Russiagate, as well as expose the sordid acts of this tragedy to the public in its final report, given we have seen little remotely resembling such an effort from our law enforcement apparatus to date.

Russiagate, at core, is a story about the dirty dealings of the "made men" of our Ruling Class.

For our system to retain a shred of integrity, we must know the whole truth of it: How the made men—of the Obama administration broadly, and its national security and law enforcement apparatus, in particular, of the political consultant class and of the media—conspired to ultimately try to invalidate the votes of millions of Americans, abrogate the consent of the governed and our sovereignty, flout the rule of law and subvert our constitutional order.

The made men of our political system rarely pay, and their activities are rarely revealed.

The premature termination of the special counsel would extinguish even a glimmer of hope for justice that remains.

That the very legislators who fretted over the termination of the Robert Mueller special counsel are nowhere to be found today is a disgrace.

Our purported representatives must demand Garland extend the special counsel, and demand that Durham fulfill his broad mandate without fear or favor.

We ought to demand the best, even while expecting the worst.

Ben Weingarten is a senior fellow at the London Center for Policy Research, fellow at the Claremont Institute and senior contributor to The Federalist. He is the author of American Ingrate: Ilhan Omar and the Progressive-Islamist Takeover of the Democratic Party (Bombardier, 2020). Ben is the founder and CEO of ChangeUp Media LLC, a media consulting and production company. Subscribe to his newsletter at bit.ly/bhwnews, and follow him on Twitter: @bhweingarten.

The views expressed in this article are the writer's own.