John Durham’s most recent indictments prove that the Clinton campaign fabricated the narrative that the Trump campaign colluded to win the 2016 elections. A researcher who contributed key information to the now-debunked Steele dossier was charged with lying to the FBI about it. A former Perkins Coie partner also had suspected ties with the Clinton’s and was charged with lying to an FBI official. Both men were arrested as part of Durham’s investigation and pleaded not guilty.
Another person, also with connections to Russia and the Clintons, was also involved. However, he was not indicted or charged with any wrongdoing. It is important to understand the background of this complex, ever-evolving scandal to fully comprehend the significance of
Eli Lake, a Bloomberg Opinion reporter, boiled it down to the most basic level. He reported that the party in power, the Democratic Party, paid for the research. He went on to say how the Democrats then presented this research to the FBI, which in turn used them to target a U.S citizen who was working for the opposition party’s presidential campaign.
Lake said that he didn’t expect any senior Democrats to be indicted because of the work of Durham. However, this does not mean that he has not found serious issues. It just means that not every malfeasance can be solved with a criminal indictment.
What are the charges? Federal indictments accused Michael Sussmann and Igor Danchenko of lying to federal officials.
Danchenko was an important source for the Steele dossier’s core claims that the Trump campaign conspired with Russia to win the 2016 election. Durham’s indictment states that the Russian-born researcher lied to say he had spoken with a Russian business magnate, who was suspected of providing information for the dossier. Danchenko was also indicted for lying about his relationship with Charles Dolan Jr. Dolan worked previously with Russia and Gazprom, its national oil company.
Dolan, now a public relations executive and Dolan’s former job, spread rumors to Danchenko. Many of these were later included in the Steele dossier according to the indictment. Sussmann, who was an associate with Perkins Coie until his indictment was representing the Democratic National Committee as well as the Clinton campaign. The firm retained Christopher Steele’s group, which produced the dossier.
According to the indictment, Sussmann met with an FBI top official to share information linking Trump to a Kremlin bank. He lied when he claimed he wasn’t representing anyone. According to the indictment, the lawyer maintained that he claimed to have told the official he was representing a tech executive. He also denied any involvement with the Clinton campaign. According to Durham’s indictments, federal investigators might have been more thorough if the defendants had disclosed their alleged connections with Democrats.
The FBI instead leaned heavily on the Steele dossier as the FBI continued to investigate the Trump campaign. The probe gained momentum and media leaks cast Trump in a negative light, despite the fact that the allegations linking Trump to Russia were not confirmed.
It was reported that the FBI leadership took the Steele dossier “very seriously” “despite objections by lower-level investigators.” James Comey, then-FBI Director, “fought at once to include the allegations” in this poor piece of opposition research that was part of the intelligence community’s vetted assessment on Russian interference in the 2016 elections.
The FBI also relied on the flawed Steele dossier in order to obtain surveillance warrants against Carter Page (a former Trump campaign advisor). The FBI did not update the surveillance court even though the dossier’s credibility started to crumble. The court had approved FBI agents who had vouched to the applications years later and two of the four warrants were deemed invalid.
Robert Mueller, the special counsel, found no evidence that Trump campaign officials colluded with Russia. According to Fox News, Michael Horowitz, the Department of Justice Inspector General, “produced a devastating report at 2019’s end that, among other things found that the Steele dossier information could not be confirmed by the FBI and was mostly worthless.”
Trump was enraged by the Steele dossier and the ongoing investigation into Trump’s 2016 election.
Lake stated that the Steele dossier was an international news story, and was being presented as Trump began his presidency.
He said that journalists had then been given a news peg by the FBI to sell some of the allegations even though they couldn’t confirm them. After the dossier was leaked, he noted that it “was given credence”, and that President Obama and Donald Trump were briefed about its allegations.
Before then, journalists would not touch the Steele dossier. It also claimed that Russia had salacious materials it could use for blackmailing Trump. Lake stated that Trump was under an enormous cloud of suspicion that the Kremlin easily blackmailed him and is in cahoots with the Kremlin and has secret arrangements which have not been proven by any stretch.
Lake also noted that despite all the refutations and rebuttals, some still believe the narrative in the dossier, including Steele. He went on to say that the allegations haven’t been disproven and that they stand behind it. He said that many people still believe that Trump was compromised by Russia, both in elite media as well as throughout the country.