This morning I suggested that Durham may be looking beyond the narrow issue of whether Michael Sussmann lied to the federal government (in the person of James Baker, General Counsel for the FBI) when he stated that the hoax story he was trying to peddle to Baker was not being presented on behalf of any client. It was--and the ultimate beneficiary of that hoax story was intended to be Hillary Clinton, for whom Sussmann worked. I further suggested that Durham might be trying to expand the scope of his inquiries with a focus on the actual substance of the Alfa Bank hoax story. In other words, expand the inquiry beyond Sussmann’s statements about whether or not he was speaking on behalf of a client and get into the substantive question of whether the hoax story was presented to the FBI with the knowledge that it was false. If Durham should be able to do that--presumably with the cooperation of Sussmann--then his net could bring in even bigger fish. Marc Elias, Glenn Simpson, and--conceivably--Hillary herself. The theory would be that some or all of the above had knowingly conspired in presenting the web of false statements--the Alfa Bank hoax--to the FBI.
It turns out that that’s pretty much what Durham is trying to do--if we’re to credit the NYT account. And I would have known that if I’d read the NYT account instead of relying on digests by others--a lesson for me.
Here’s the key:
"[It's been suggested that Durham] has been pursuing a theory that the Clinton campaign used Perkins Coie to submit dubious information to the F.B.I. about Russia and Mr. Trump in an effort to gin up investigative activity to hurt his 2016 campaign." https://nytimes.com/2021/09/15/us/politics/durham-michael-sussmann-trump-russia.html…
That’s a conspiracy to submit false statements in violation of 18 USC 1001. I can only guess as to what theory of action Durham might be contemplating against Perkins Coie, but my best guess would be that it would involve the laundering of Clinton campaign payments to Fusion GPS through Perkins Coie. Obviously Perkins Coie would argue that that was done by Sussmann without the firm’s approval, while Durham might respond along the lines that the firm had some type of constructive knowledge of what was going on--through their internal auditing of accounts--and looked the other way. That’s a sketch of what might be going on here. It also explains Sussmann’s departure from the firm.
Beyond that, however, the really important point being made by the NYT is that Durham’s investigative theory is that the conspiracy to submit false statements to the FBI (the Alfa Bank hoax) was conducted under the direction of the Clinton campaign. Ultimate responsibility for the actions of the Clinton campaign would rest with Hillary Clinton. Hillary’s defense--if it came to that--would presumably be that it was all done without her knowledge. The difficulty is that, through Chris Steele (and possibly others), we know that top Clinton confidants (her lawyers) were directly involved in the composition of the fraudulent Steele report that was the basis for the false statements to the FBI.
That’s all a very big deal. Will Merrick Garland dare try to shut Durham down?