Three years ago, Donald Trump's campaign of vengeance against anyone who provided evidence of his own potential crimes led to Trump lackey Bill Barr appointing a special counsel to examine how the evidence of the 2016 Trump campaign's coordination with Russia had been assembled. Special counsel John Durham scrambled to produce anything that would portray the Trump-Russia investigation in a bad light, and in the end, burped out an attempted face-saving charge against Democratic-linked lawyer Michael Sussmann for ostensibly lying to the FBI about his connections to the 2016 Clinton campaign when he contacted the FBI over Trump-Russia concerns.
It was a farcical charge from the beginning, which legal experts and experts on Robert Mueller's probe of Russian hacking both said repeatedly. Durham's key “witnesses” couldn't keep their own stories straight, and after three years and $40 million spent, a jury politely told Durham today to go home already. Lawyer Michael Sussmann was acquitted by a jury today, as expected.
The entire premise of the Barr-ordered investigation of the Russia investigation was to discredit the Mueller report and push back, at Trump's frothing insistence, on all those in government who dared collect evidence that members of his campaign and inner circle did attempt to collaborate with a Russian espionage campaign against Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. Of key significance in that investigation were the repeated attempts by Trump allies to cover up evidence of those interactions—and Trump would later pardon those who lied to investigators on his behalf.
Durham's case against Sussmann, however, was egregiously ridiculous. It seemed obviously constructed as a face-saving move after his investigation failed to come up with any evidence of the supposed anti-Trump conspiracy that Trump's team insisted was the "real" reason federal intelligence and law enforcement officials had reported Trump-Russia ties.
Durham has also repeatedly taken actions that appear more focused on propping up pro-Trump conspiracy theories, including seemingly avoiding evidence that contradicted his own case. The probe became a vehicle for asinine conspiracy theories in which the federal government was alleged to be working against Trump as part of the deep state, and so forth—an overarching conspiracy that Trump's allies have used in response to every report of potentially criminal wrongdoing by Trump, and one that asserts that Russia is "innocent" of attacks on American elections but was framed by, according to various versions, a malevolent Ukraine, disgruntled intelligence services, or the Clinton campaign itself.
Marcy Wheeler has been following Durham's probes from the beginning and has repeatedly lambasted Durham's moves as incompetent at best; she notes today that Durham's other less-followed case "has signs of the same problems as this one." Durham indicted Igor Danchenko, a source who contributed information for what is now known as the Steele dossier, and for lying to the FBI in a shoddily assembled case that similarly appears to be based more on revenge than evidence.
Durham now says he is "disappointed" in the jury's ruling, which is always a good way to end a three-year-long witch hunt founded solely on Donald Trump’s desire to punish anyone who tries to hold him accountable for potential crimes.
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