CNN's Eye is on the Sparrow

Jack Sparrow, that is, the movie pirate played by Johnny Depp, whose defamation suit against his ex-wife Amber Heard is full of the kind of meaningless salacious nonsense CNN’s declining viewership is capable of focusing on. For grownups, another trial in nearby Washington, D.C. is of far greater import, the trial of Michael Sussmann, but as Professor Charles Lipson notes on Facebook:

I scanned through 2 hours of CNN coverage. No mention of the Sussmann trial at all (as usual) and no mention of Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook’s unexpected revelation that Hillary herself approved spreading the false Alfa bank story….  If CNN covered the revelation on other shows, please let me know. Otherwise, it looks like they are news undertakers, not reporters.

For those whose local press is as focused on nonsense as CNN, let me recap the significance of this week’s proceedings instituted by special counsel John Durham after a lengthy investigation into the origins of the Russian hoax, which was generated and promoted by Hillary Clinton to advance her election and which, after she lost, served to tie up President Trump and his administration with investigations and impeachments. The indictment was a detailed 26-page outline indictment of the case which is now ongoing. It is precise and limited -- Sussman is accused of lying to the FBI’s General Counsel in September 2016 when he asserted that he was not representing a client at the time he claimed that Russia’s Alfa Bank was a direct conduit between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin. 

Hot Air summarizes the week’s revelations -- “revelations” may not be the word exactly, as there was plenty of evidence already that this is what occurred, but this week, it was nailed down in documentary and sworn testimonial evidence:

Prosecutors asked Mr. Mook about his role in funneling the Alfa Bank claims to the press. Mr. Mook admitted the campaign lacked expertise to vet the data, yet the decision was made by Mr. Mook, policy adviser Jake Sullivan (now President Biden’s national security adviser), communications director Jennifer Palmieri and campaign chairman John Podesta to give the Alfa Bank claims to a reporter. Mr. Mook said Mrs. Clinton was asked about the plan and approved it. A story on the Trump-Alfa Bank allegations then appeared in Slate, a left-leaning online publication.

On Oct. 31, 2016, Mr. Sullivan issued a statement mentioning the Slate story, writing, “This could be the most direct link yet between Donald Trump and Moscow.” Mrs. Clinton tweeted Mr. Sullivan’s statement with the comment: “Computer scientists have apparently uncovered a covert server linking the Trump Organization to a Russian-based bank.” “Apparently” is doing a lot of work in that sentence.

In short, the Clinton campaign created the Trump-Alfa allegation, fed it to a credulous press that failed to confirm the allegations but ran with them anyway, then promoted the story as if it was legitimate news. The campaign also delivered the claims to the FBI, giving journalists another excuse to portray the accusations as serious and perhaps true.

Marc Elias, another Democrat election lawyer who was then general counsel for the Clinton campaign, admitted that the Russian hoax was a Clinton operation -- orchestrated from the top and without any factual basis.

James Baker, at the time the FBI’s general counsel, testified that he trusted Sussmann’s statement that he was not there on behalf of a client because of Sussman’s background and their own friendship.  He added that had he known Clinton was behind the Sussmann visit he’d have made a different assessment of the credibility of the claim and “he would have rethought his dealings with the news media,” that he was ”aware of and wary of’ the fact that the existence of an F.B.I. investigation could be used by reporters as a way to report  on something that is ‘flawed or incomplete.'

Well, that is exactly what happened, by Clinton design.

The Hill has the most detailed description of how the Clinton team lied about the false allegations and their role in generating and promoting it. Here’s a sample of the “bag of tricks”:

The Clinton team denied involvement in the creation of the Steele dossier throughout the 2016 campaign despite direct media inquiries. It was only after the election that mysterious expenses for its legal counsel led reporters to discover the truth. The payments for the dossier were masked as “legal fees” among the $5.6 million paid to the law firm. According to New York Times reporter Ken Vogel, Elias categorically denied involvement in the anti-Trump dossier; when Vogel tried to report the story, he said Elias “pushed back vigorously, saying ‘You (or your sources) are wrong.’” Times reporter Maggie Haberman later wrote that “folks involved in funding this lied about it, and with sanctimony, for a year.”

According to the indictment, Sussman told the truth -- and contradicted what he’d originally told the FBI general counsel -- when interviewed under oath in December 2017 before the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, telling them he did not hold the meeting of his own volition but at the request of a client.

Notably, another Clinton figure pushing the Alpha Bank conspiracy was Jake Sullivan, who now weighs intelligence reports for President Biden as his national security adviser. Sullivan, a senior policy adviser to Clinton, declared in an official campaign press statement that the Alfa Bank allegation “could be the most direct link yet between Donald Trump and Moscow” and portrayed it as the work of independent experts: “Computer scientists have apparently uncovered a covert server linking the Trump Organization to a Russian-based bank. This secret hotline may be the key to unlocking the mystery of Trump’s ties to Russia. … This line of communication may help explain Trump’s bizarre adoration of Vladimir Putin.”

So the “very useful narrative” was delivered to the media and the FBI and, along with the dossier, was used to launch the Russia investigation, which led to the appointment of former special counsel Robert Mueller. The “bag of tricks” was supposed to be buried with the involvement of the Clinton campaign -- until Trump Attorney General William Barr appointed Durham as a second special counsel.

This Clinton game was not without national consequences:

Most of the press will ignore this news, but the Russia-Trump narrative that Mrs. Clinton sanctioned did enormous harm to the country. It disgraced the FBI, humiliated the press, and sent the country on a three-year investigation to nowhere. Vladimir Putin never came close to doing as much disinformation damage.

Where do we go from here?  Once again, Democrat wrongdoing is being tried before partisan judges and juries in the capital. Professor Jonathan Turley, in a series of tweets, points out that Sussman’s trial is “in stark contrast” to the trial of General Flynn in D.C. Among other things, the Flynn judge refused to immediately close the case even after the prosecution moved to drop it.  

In contrast, Sussman’s judge, Obama appointee Christopher Cooper, refused to strike from the jury pool  a woman whose daughter is a teammate of Sussman’s daughter; and three other jurors who donated to Clinton, “including one who could only promise to ‘strive for impartiality as best I can.” On the Hill site Turley elaborated on this, detailing the judge’s restrictive rulings and concluding: 

The treatment given to Sussmann is in stark contrast to how Trump associates were treated in this same court. In the Flynn trial, Judge Cooper’s colleague, Judge Emmet Sullivan, conducted a series of bizarre hearings, including one in which he used the courtroom flag as a prop to accuse Flynn of being an “unregistered agent of a foreign country while serving as the national security adviser” and to suggest that Flynn could be charged with treason -- crimes not brought against him. Sullivan then declared: “I cannot assure you that if you proceed today, you will not receive a sentence of incarceration. I am not hiding my disgust and my disdain.” 

Likewise, another judicial colleague, Judge Amy Berman Jackson, refused to grant Trump associate Roger Stone a new trial despite disturbing reports of juror bias. 

While the judge in Flynn’s case was eager to remove obstacles from the prosecution’s path, the judge in Sussmann’s case seems to have created a virtual obstacle course for Durham. Durham may be able to jump the legal hurdles, but he will do so without much of his evidence. To paraphrase Charles Dickens in “A Tale of Two Cities,” for a prosecutor D.C. can be the best of venues or it can be the worst of venues. 

Judge Cooper, incidentally, is married to Amy Jeffress, a former Justice Department official and national security counselor to former United States Attorney General Eric Holder.

There’s much discussion online of the likely next path for Durham -- will miscreant FBI agents be next in the dock, for example?

Clearly, despite many handicaps, the Special Prosecution team has done a thorough job of it and has amassed considerable probative evidence to warrant convictions.

But while these FBI agents (and others who colluded with Clinton) in this nefarious scheme would appear to be reasonable targets of the Special Prosecutor, as long as partisan judges in the District of Columbia continue to condone sociopathic behavior by their party through biased rulings that make successful prosecution iffy, that next step -- or any other by the prosecutor -- is problematic.

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