Special counsel John Durham noted in his most recent court filing that if one thing had occurred, the FBI likely never would have launched its so-called “Russiagate” investigation into then-GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign.
Namely, if a lawyer linked to the campaign of Trump’s Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton, had been honest with the bureau, that probe most likely never would have begun, Just the News’ John Solomon noted in a column published this week.
“It was an allegation that dogged Donald Trump for three years: a claim the Republican nominee-turned-president had a secret backdoor communications channel with the Kremlin. Repeated endlessly by the liberal media, the allegation was never true,” Solomon wrote, adding:
Now, Special Counsel John Durham is raising the tantalizing specter the FBI might never have investigated the claim during the height of the 2016 presidential election if the man who brought it to the bureau — Hillary Clinton campaign lawyer Michael Sussmann — had told the truth about its origins.
In his latest court filing this weekend, Durham gave his most sweeping assessment yet about the consequences of Sussmann hiding the fact that he brought the allegation to the FBI on behalf of the Clinton campaign and a computer executive aligned with the campaign.
“Had the defendant truthfully informed the FBI General Counsel that he was providing the information on behalf of one or more clients, as opposed to merely acting as a ‘good citizen,’ the FBI General Counsel and other FBI personnel might have asked a multitude of additional questions material to the case initiation process,” Durham told the court in a memo filed late Friday.
“Given the temporal proximity to the 2016 U.S. presidential election, the FBI also might have taken any number of different steps in initiating, delaying, or declining the initiation of this matter had it known at the time that the defendant was providing information on behalf of the Clinton campaign and a technology executive at a private company,” the former U.S. attorney noted.
Sussmann has been charged by Durham in his investigation into the origins of the ‘Russiagate’ counterintelligence probe with making a false statement to a federal investigator. Specifically, he claimed he was not working on behalf of any client when he fed then-FBI General Counsel James Baker allegations that Trump had a secret computer channel to the Kremlin.
Sussmann’s legal team has asked the court to toss the charges, arguing they are not germane to Durham’s case and a violation of his First Amendment rights.
Durham’s Friday filing pushed back on those claims.
“Far from finding himself in the vulnerable position of an ordinary person whose speech is likely to be chilled, the defendant — a sophisticated and well-connected lawyer — chose to bring politically-charged allegations to the FBI’s chief legal officer at the height of an election season,” Durham wrote to the judge.
“He then chose to lie about the clients who were behind those allegations,” he added. “Using such rare access to the halls of power for the purposes of political deceit is hardly the type of speech that the Founders intended to protect. The Court should therefore reject defendant’s invitation to expand the scope of the First Amendment to protect such conduct.”