The biggest crooks in Special Counsel Durham’s investigation may be at the FBI

A future ex-lawyer named Michael Sussmann is going to trial next week for his role in feeding the FBI bogus Russian collusion stories.

Those stories are scurrilous and vulgar lies which distracted the nation and the Trump administration for years and for which someone should be held accountable. But Sussmann was not the person who manufactured those lies. He was just the bag man who passed them on to the FBI.

And so those lies are not what Sussmann has been charged with. He’s been charged with a more pedestrian lie – the lie of telling the FBI he was not working for a client when in fact he was. Not just any client, but the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton’s campaign.

He’s guilty as hell.

But in a broader sense, this bag man is just a fall guy. The FBI surely knew all along that he, his partner Marc Elias and their firm Perkins Coie, a Seattle law firm with aspirations, were Democrat operatives. Everyone knew that. 

So, if the FBI knew all along that Sussmann was lying, why did they generate numerous written records – in the form of otherwise irrelevant notes of the lie and Sussmann’s own text message (which may be something the FBI requested for this very purpose) – that he was not working for a client?

Here’s why. The FBI intended to, and did, present Sussmann’s bogus story to the FISA courts in order to obtain authorization and re-authorization to conduct surveillance on the Trump campaign. They knew the story would stink to high heaven if they told the court that it came from Hillary’s lawyers. So I speculate that they invited those lawyers – Sussmann et al – to say they weren’t representing Hillary in connection with the story.

Query: Why was the FBI this desperate to conduct surveillance on the Trump campaign? Another query: Why haven’t the DNC and the Hillary campaign been charged with anything yet? I’ll leave those questions for another column.

Sussmann’s initial defense was that he never told the FBI what he told them. Forensic and testimonial evidence has sunk that defense – it was yet another lie – and so now he’s left with the defense that his lie doesn’t matter – it was “immaterial.”

As for his lie to the court in his initial defense that he didn’t lie to the FBI, well, lawyers don’t call lies to the court perjury or obstruction of justice; they call them “pleading in the alternative.”

In essence, Sussmann is admitting that he lied to the FBI and lied to the court about lying to the FBI, but now he’s telling the truth that it was the FBI that essentially invited him to lie and to lie about lying.

For once, I think Sussmann is (finally) telling the truth. 

And in a technical legal sense, Sussmann is on plausibly firmer ground here. Not because the fact he was working for the DNC and Hillary was immaterial – that fact was very material because that fact would have undermined his story with the FISA court – but because the FBI knew that when he told them he was not, he was lying.

There’s some logic to that. No one relies on a lie if they know it’s a lie, so it can’t be a material one. No harm, no foul.

On the other hand, the FBI itself, and judges, too, interpret the law to mean that lying to investigators about a material fact is a crime even when the investigators know it’s a lie. Witness the plight of Michael Flynn who was prosecuted for allegedly telling the FBI something they knew was not true. (I say allegedly, since the FBI agents made no recording, and their later position contradicted their contemporaneous notes.)

In any event, not everyone knew that Sussmann was lying. Maybe I’m just being optimistic, but I hope and assume the FISA judge, as the ultimate recipient of this lie, didn’t know it was a lie when he relied upon it in granting the FBI a warrant for surveillance.

If my speculation is right, then who’s the bigger crook? Is it Sussmann for accepting the FBI’s implicit (or explicit) invitation to lie, or is it the FBI for inviting him to lie, recognizing that he’d lied, and then presenting the lie as fact to the FISA court to illegally get a surveillance warrant on a presidential campaign?

Sussmann deserves to be convicted. That said, we expect political operatives like him to lie to everyone all the time. We don’t, however, expect the FBI to lie to the courts, ever, and certainly not for the purpose of spying on political campaigns. I hope Durham is just getting warmed up.

Glenn K. Beaton practiced law in the Federal Courts, including the Supreme Court.

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22 thoughts on “The biggest crooks in Special Counsel Durham’s investigation may be at the FBI

    • Because it’s not a crime to report suspected criminal activity to law enforcement, even if the person suspected is running for president.

      • You seem unaware that Sussmann is being tried for lying to a federal investigator, and that’s a crime. Congratulations, Martha Stewart knows more about the law than you do.

  1. The Obama appointed judge in the case has ruled that Durham can’t introduce evidence of a broader conspiracy involving the Clinton campaign. As Politico put it:
    The ruling spares the Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee the potential embarrassment of a federal judge finding they were part of a coordinated effort to level since-discredited allegations that candidate Donald Trump or his allies maintained a data link from Trump Tower to Russia’s Alfa Bank. The Clinton campaign disseminated that claim amid a broader effort to call out Trump’s ties to Russia at a time when U.S. intelligence agencies had revealed efforts by the Russian government to interfere in the 2016 election.
    The case against Sussman is solid, but the question is whether a DC jury will convict. Hopefully, the panel, which will probably contain its share of federal government workers and non-white veniremen will not care too deeply about the fate of some hifalutin white Jewish lawyer. If Sussman was black, he would never take the fall. Sorry to stereotype all the involved players, but it is an opinion I have come to after a certain amount of observation. I confess that I am a noticer of things.

  2. A nation that accepted the FBI’s improper takeover of and improbable “findings” in theTWA 800 investigation deserves what it gets. And we ain’t gonna get a fair election this fall unless the Blue Wave is a tsunami.

  3. For over a decade, I’ve shared example after example of the FBI’s illegal and grossly immoral activities with the “Mainstream” Press. For years, all shamelessly turned a blind-eye. Yet in recent years, the actions of the de facto criminal -and apparently autonomous- organization are finally coming to light, Still, With The True and Almighty YHWH as My Witness: Americans, are without a clue.
    Ah, the “Free Press”,

  4. The FBI is putting a whole new meaning to the once laudatory name “The Untouchables,” a term referencing a group of incorruptible Treasury agents (T-Men) during the Prohibition era, led by Eliot Ness.

    See: https://www.atf.gov/our-history/eliot-ness

    The G-Men at the FBI are the new “untouchables” as they seem to operate above the law, untouched by any accountability for their cronyism, double-standards, and long history of subverting the Constitution with programs like “black-bag jobs,” COINTELPRO, and the more recent investigations codenamed “Midyear Exam” and “Crossfire Hurricane.”

    See: https://vault.fbi.gov/cointel-pro

    Who at the FBI has really been held accountable over the Crossfire Hurricane scam, which is the genesis of the Durham investigation? A small fry FBI lawyer got his wrist slapped for falsifying a FISA warrant, yet he is undoubtedly doing well and probably doing some well paid legal research and political skullduggery work for a leftist NGO.

    Comey was fired. His replacement was fired. The FBI lovebirds Strzok and Page are free birds, one just getting fired and the other resigning. Some of these high ranking ex-FBI hacks made good money writing books and getting new gigs on leftist cable shows. None of these political assassins have ever been subject to the bar of criminal justice for their illegal and very unethical activities. As mentioned before … they all are untouchable; seemingly invincible against the US justice system for their transgressions, and well protected by the Deep State.

    Also … note that the FBI lovebirds also had a very warm and cozy friendship with Rudolph Contreras, the then top FISA court judge, with an alluded history of smarmy cocktail and dinner parties.

    See: https://thefederalist.com/2018/03/16/revealed-peter-strzok-had-personal-relationship-with-recused-judge-in-michael-flynn-case/

    Several years ago I wrote a letter to the editor suggesting that the FBI has lost the trust and faith of the American people and that they should at the very least, forfeit their Counterintelligence Division. Their Midyear Exam investigation into Hillary Clinton’s e-mails and server was done in the spirit of the FBI acting as an ACLU defense outfit for Clinton. The Crossfire Hurricane investigation was done in a Spanish Inquisition like manner against Trump and his loyalists … an obvious double-standard of justice.

    I still think the FBI should lose its coveted Counterintelligence Division. This important law enforcement and intelligence function could be moved out of the Department of Justice and FBI and “re-imagined” (heh … to use a progressive talking point about policing) by merging it into the Secret Service, or Homeland Security, or some other more worthy federal agency (if one even exists now.)

    See: https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2018/jul/15/letters-to-the-editor-fbi-doj-dont-deserve-roles/

    But, I think even Durham will eventually his a wall. The Deep State is just too deep. Though I hope that he proves me wrong.

    The FBI are the New Untouchables, … they operate untouched by legal restraint and more like a lawless Al Capone.

    • “Untouchable”.
      Like 185,000 wicked, uncircumcised Assyrians – overnight.

  5. Glenn: “I hope and assume the FISA judge, as the ultimate recipient of this lie, didn’t know it was a lie when he relied upon it in granting the FBI a warrant for surveillance.” I believe something like 99% of applications for FISA warrants are granted by the FISA judges. More likely, the FISA judge basically rubber-stamped the application. I think you’re giving the judges way too much credit.

  6. The FBI needs to disappear. They can’t be trusted, have become hyper-political whores, and in need of many prosecutions for the leadership, particularly.

  7. Agree with Mrdoug: The FISA court has been forever given a pass on accepting and approving this dubious information. I do not understand why they/he/she has not had their feet held to the fire on this gross negligence. Couldn’t they be outed in some way? Nobody else seems to be immune as they are.

  8. Sussman’s defense is the FBI knew all along it was a hoax so his lie was of no consequence. Kind of like the Jan 6 and Michigan kidnapping defenses.

  9. This is a list of some (but not all) co-conspirators:
    Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, Jim Clapper, James Comey, Andrew McCabe, Robert Mueller,
    Peter Strzok, Lisa Page, Loretta Lynch, John Brennan, Joe Biden, Michael E. Horowitz (IG),
    Adam Schiff, Mitt Romney, Emmet Sullivan, Christopher Steele, Igor Danchenko, Joseph Cofer Black, Glenn Simpson, Christopher Wray, Susan Rice, Rod Rosenstein, Thomas Catan, Bruce Ohr, Nellie Ohr, Neil King Jr., Shailagh Murray, Mary Jacoby, Peter Fritsch, Edward Baumgartner, Rinat Akhmetshin, Samantha Power, Stephen Somma, Stefan Halper, Sidney Blumenthal, John Podesta, Cody Shearer, Jake Sullivan, Robbie Mook, Michael Sussmann, Marc Elias, Thomas Williams, Colin Kahl, Kevin Clinesmith, Kathleen Kavalec, Lewis Lukens, Gregory Craig, Jonathan Winer, Victoria Nuland, Tashina Gauhar, John Carlin, Sally Yates, John McCain…

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