AMAC Exclusive – By Andrew Abbott
As 2021 draws to a close, Americans are still anxiously awaiting a possible report from Special Counsel John Durham’s probe into the basis of the FBI’s investigation of possible links between Russia and the 2016 Trump campaign. Thus far, the probe has uncovered a rash of lies and deception on the part of Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign associates and the mainstream media, exposing the “Russian collusion” narrative as an intentional campaign smear. In September, Durham issued a fresh round of indictments, including one that charged Clinton campaign lawyer Michael Sussman with lying to the FBI. Yet, the more indictments that are issued, the more questions seem to arise. Many are wondering how far up Durham will prove the corruption went, and who he will prove knowingly engaged in propagating it. Despite media attempts to downplay or outright ignore the slew of revelations coming out of the investigation, the findings are a staggering indictment of the media, the intelligence community, and, potentially, the Clintons themselves.
- Was Anyone Senior in Hillary Clinton’s Campaign – or Clinton herself – Involved?
The earliest media narratives stated, as almost absolute fact, that former President Donald Trump illegally won the 2016 election through a comprehensive collusion campaign with Russian president Vladimir Putin, who was also blackmailing Trump. Indeed, numerous outlets preposterously suggested that Russian intelligence had been controlling him since the 1980s. The majority of these accusations were detailed in the Steele dossier, a collection of what was said to be credible insider information from Russia itself. The dossier was compiled by ex-British spy Christopher Steele, a man the mainstream media gushingly compared to fictional British spy James Bond. Even though the report contained glaring errors and was unverified, it was treated as gospel truth by mainstream media outlets.
In reality, the Durham report has, so far, revealed the Steele dossier to be almost laughably false. Christopher Steele has been widely condemned and the report is now considered bunk.
While accusations of conspiracy and blackmail between the Trump campaign and Russia have been widely discredited, the Durham report has revealed a shocking network of connections between those who created the Steele dossier, senior members of the Clinton Campaign, and longtime Democratic operatives. Thus far, Durham has uncovered, as reported by the Wall Street Journal, that the Clinton campaign retained the services of the law firm Perkins Coie, which hired the opposition research firm Fusion GPS, which then recruited Steele to compile the dossier.
This, on paper, seems to put a degree of distance between the Clinton campaign and Steele, yet it is now known the actual parties involved were perhaps far closer to the Clintons than originally thought. Steele’s primary source for his “explosive” revelations was Igor Danchenko, an analyst for the Brookings Institution, a left-leaning think tank with a long history of ties to the Clinton family. Danchenko has also been indicted for lying to the FBI. In addition, Clinton loyalist and Democratic operative Charles Dolan Jr. was another one of Steele’s primary sources. Clinton Campaign lawyer Michael Sussman, who provided false information to the FBI regarding Trump and Russia, has also been indicted. Yet for all these indictments, the question still remains: who was coordinating all this activity?
2. Will Durham’s Investigation Reach Comey and McCabe?
It’s now clear that the FBI’s investigation into the 2016 Trump campaign was based largely on false rumors documented in the Steele dossier. Even with the obvious conflicts of interest, Justice Department officials, as one columnist described, “took the Steele dossier very seriously…despite objections from lower-level investigators.” In fact, former FBI director James Comey, “fought at one point to include the allegations in this shabby piece of opposition research in the intelligence community’s vetted assessment of Russian interference in the 2016 election.” That assessment became the basis of the surveillance warrants against former Trump campaign advisor Carter Page.
The seriousness with which the FBI regarded the dossier also gave the media carte blanche to portray the dossier’s allegations as truth – and to continue to push baseless Russian collusion narratives even after Department of Justice Inspector General Michael Horowitz revealed that the dossier was “largely worthless” in 2019.
What remains to be seen is whether Durham will portray the small group at the top of the FBI as unwitting victims of the Clinton campaign’s deception, or whether they were using the media coverage they had not just aided but actually generated in order to use that published information to reinforce the false representations to the Justice Department and the Courts that were the basis of the FBI leadership’s surveillance program against the Obama administration’s political opponents. That program could well have involved violations of 42 U.S. Code Section 1983 that forbids the use of government power to deny others their civil rights. Former Trump Department of Defense Chief of Staff Kash Patel said recently that “all roads lead to Andy McCabe, the former Deputy Director of the FBI, who was caught lying three times by the Inspector General during his tenure there,” suggesting that criminal charges may not be out of the question. Should McCabe, Comey, and others face scrutiny as co-conspirators by the Durham investigation, calls for reform would only intensify.
3. Will Durham Implicate Other Intelligence Agencies?
The FBI’s involvement in the case has also raised questions about other intelligence agencies and their role in pushing the dossier. By some accounts it was former CIA Director John Brennan who advocated for the inclusion of the dossier in the Russia intelligence assessment. Moreover, during the 2015 campaign Brennan acted in a fashion so partisan it would have been unthinkable to other CIA Directors. As just one example, Brennan went to Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reed – no stranger to the art of the political smear – with information that pushed the Clinton spin on collusion and urged him to get the FBI to pursue the allegations. It has also been widely reported that Durham’s investigators have reviewed emails and correspondence between CIA analysts, suggesting other Agency officials may be under scrutiny as well.
4. Will We See Everything Ratcliffe Handed Over to the Special Prosecutor?
On November 7th, Former U.S. Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe revealed on Fox News that “I gave John Durham over 1,000 other documents that have not yet been declassified that I know include intelligence that goes specifically to this criminal activity that would be the basis for further indictments.” While there are likely to be more indictments from the Durham Investigation, there is no guarantee that all these documents will be made available to the public. Intelligence and law enforcement agencies will almost certainly attempt to hide them under the pretense of protecting “sensitive information.” Yet, considering how the collapse of the Steele dossier was a crippling blow to the integrity of American intelligence agencies, a full report may be the only way to rebuild the trust of the American people.
5. Wildcard: Do the Indictments Undermine the Narrative that Russia Hacked the DNC?
The Steele dossier asserted multiple times that the 2016 hack of the Democratic National Committee’s emails was done explicitly at the behest of the Russian Government. Even after the dossier was debunked, the intelligence agencies stated that they had confirmed the details of the DNC hack separately, specifically noting the use of third-party cybersecurity firms like CrowdStrike. Yet, CrowdStrike is the very same firm involved in the discredited “Alfa Bank hoax” exposed in Durham’s indictment of Sussman. While this doesn’t discredit the firm’s findings entirely, it does raise questions of competence and bias.
The media and elected Democrats – many of whom are directly responsible for propagating the Steele Dossier’s lies – are desperately hoping that the public will lose interest before any more damning revelations come to light. But as the tangled web of deception continues to grow and implicate figures in the highest levels of government and Democratic politics, Americans’ interest – and demands for justice – may be growing as well.
Andrew Abbott is the pen name of a writer and public affairs consultant with over a decade of experience in DC at the intersection of politics and culture.
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