Follow-up: The Belly Of The DC Beast

Yesterday we took a look at varying perspectives on the the connections of top FBI lawyer, General Counsel James Baker, with recently indicted Clinton legal operative Michael Sussman. We also reviewed the involvement of Baker with his close friend, notorious journo-political operative and sleaze artist David Corn, who was also eager to peddle Clinton Campaign hoaxes to Baker. Finally, we noted Baker’s awareness of the presence of another key DC sleaze merchant and political operative, Glenn Simpson (founder of Fusion GPS), in this mix. It came as no surprise that defenders of the institutional FBI such as shipwreckedcrew and Andy McCarthy (both former federal prosecutors) are coming around to the view that, while “the FBI” may not have been “knowing accomplices”, it certainly appears that “the FBI” was “happy to help” the Clinton operatives who were peddling hoaxes. (Perspective On The FBI And The Sussmann Case)

Last night and into this morning several articles appeared that offer related views on how DC works. While “news” accounts focus on elected officials or officials who have been confirmed by the Senate, the reality is that the real power players are those with money—LOTS of money—or their hired operatives, be they working under cover as lawyers, investigators, journalists, or whatever. These are people that our elected representatives hesitate to cross without career insurance of some sort.

The first article (h/t EZ) focuses on a shadowy Dem operative whose name has surfaced repeatedly in the wake of the Sussmann indictment: former Dianne Feinstein staffer Daniel Jones. You can find previous posts regarding Jones here. (Please note that I need to do searches at the old site to get ready access to the archives.) For our purposes, this quote from a post in mid-October, 2020, sets up that new article:

Barr, Durham, Jones & Sullivan

Sounds like a law firm, and it's true--three out the four arelawyers. In reality, of course, it refers to the latest revelation in the continuing Barr investigation of the Russia Hoax lawfare coup attempt against President Trump. Please note: I said revelation, not development. As I pointed out recently (Why The Daniel Jones Story Is Significant) this part of the investigation has--beyond any doubt--been intensively ongoing for some time. Most likely for months:

Consider this. I simply can't conceive that Durham is calling Jones before the grand jury on a whim, without having conducted a searching background investigation of everything connected to Jones. If Durham sent Jones a grand jury subpoena to testify before the grand jury, IMO it's for sure that he has also issued grand jury subpoenas for everything in Jones life that could conceivably be obtained via grand jury subpoenas. That would, as SWC says, focus on communications and finances. Moreover, before quizzing Jones on all that, Durham would have reviewed that mountain of material and followed out all leads that arose from it. And my belief is that Durham would not be calling Jones before the grand jury if he hadn't already developed bona fide investigative leads that he has followed out. That's too serious a step to take just to show how thorough an investigator he is.

So, here we are a year later. If I was right a year ago, Durham has presumably been very busy, using the information he has gleaned from—among other investigative paths—his examination, both documentary and testimonial—of Daniel Jones. Chuck Ross catches up with the Jones angle (which he has previously covered):

Senate Dems Tapped Soros-Funded Operative To Research Trump-Russia Conspiracy

Daniel Jones investigated claims at the center of Special Counsel John Durham’s investigation

Ross’ central point is that, following the Clinton Campaign’s electoral crash and burn in 2016, the locus for oppo research into Trump shifted to shadowy front organizations. If the connections to the Clinton organization had been too overt those connections could have been easily traced back to criminal hoaxes perpetrated by the DC establishment against Trump. That in turn would have embarrassed—or implicated, as it turns out—key operatives in official positions. Jones, who had worked closely with the Clinton Campaign working in the shadows, simply switched hats and continued his role under the cover of new organizational fronts.

Thus, Ross writes:

[In early 2017] Senate Democrats tapped a political operative bankrolled by George Soros to investigate debunked allegations that President Donald Trump colluded with Russia, claims that are now at the center of an indictment in Special Counsel John Durham's investigation.

Jones, a former FBI agent, has reportedly been called to testify before Durham's grand jury in Washington. Best known as the Senate Intelligence Committee staffer who investigated CIA torture of suspected terrorists, Jones formed a nonprofit research group in January 2017 to investigate Trump's alleged ties to Russia.

George Soros and other wealthy progressives have funded Jones's operation. Tax filings show that Soros gave $1.5 million to Jones's group, the Democracy Integrity Project, in 2017 and 2018. Television producer Norman Lear has also contributed to a related group formed by Jones called Advance Democracy, Inc. Jones worked closely with opposition research firm Fusion GPS and former British spy Christopher Steele, who compiled a largely discredited dossier accusing Trump of colluding with Russia. Jones's organizations paid Fusion GPS more than $5 million and Steele more than $1 million for research in 2017 and 2018, according to tax filings.

Durham is obviously operating on the theory—no doubt evidence based, as we’ve seen from the Sussmann indictment—that the Clinton organization took DC oppo research business as usual a big step further into criminal territory. Jones appears to have been caught up in one or more of these criminal hoaxes that Durham is looking at.

The second article is by Eric Felten, who specializes in perspectival type overviews. This one is up to his usual standard. It’s not that he’s telling us things we haven’t heard already, but he’s reminding us of these facts and, especially, relationships (which point to further facts), placing it all in a larger context. Sometimes it’s very useful to step back from examining the trees in order to get a view of the forest as a whole. In the Sussmann indictment the forest view comes up front, of course. Felten focuses on:

How Russiagate Became a Story of Old Friends in High Places

Felten’s main point is simple and obvious—but key: the anti-Trump forces leveraged their contacts and relationships in DC to launch their multi-faceted campaign:

They used friends in law enforcement to launch secret investigations; they used friends in the federal government to broaden those investigations; and they used friends in the media to spread the word about Trump and his organization being under investigation.

Sussmann’s “pre-existing relationship” with FBI General Counsel was key in getting the Alfa Bank hoax out into the MSM—the “news” organizations needed a hook to run the hoax story, and the fact of an existing FBI investigation provided that hook.

Have you ever considered contacting the FBI’s General Counsel to have him get the FBI off its rear end and investigate something you think they should be investigating? Take my advice and don’t waste your time. But that’s the point—for Sussmann it was as simple as picking up the phone.

Securing a meeting with the FBI’s top lawyer can’t have been easy. But for Sussmann it was.

Not just anyone can call up the bureau’s general counsel and, with amorphous claims of conspiratorial criminality by a presidential candidate, promptly get a private sit-down. And yet that is exactly what Sussmann did. How? Because, as Baker told congressional investigators, Sussmann came to him “based on a preexisting relationship."

In deadpan prose, Felten presents Baker’s hilariously non-credible attempts to deflect Congressional inquiries from himself:

When Baker asked him how he came upon this information, Sussmann, according to Baker, said “that there were some cyber experts that somehow would come across this information and brought it somehow to his attention, and that they were alarmed at what it showed, and that, therefore, they wanted to bring it to the attention of the FBI.”

Asked for the names of the “experts,” Baker said, “I don’t think I ever found out who these experts were.”

Note: Baker doesn’t even suggest that he so much as asked, much less demanded to know, who these mysterious “experts” were, or what had motivated them. It was all very mysterious but, like, Michael and I had a personal relationship.

Faced with flimsy sourcing for an abstruse allegation, Baker might have been expected to ask a lawyer whose firm was closely aligned with the Democratic Party some probing questions. But if he did, that’s now lost in a cloud of foggy recollection. “I can't remember,” Baker told members of Congress when asked if he knew Sussmann was billing the DNC and the Clinton campaign for his time talking with Baker. “I don't specifically remember when I learned that. So I don't know that I had that in my head when he showed up in my office. I just can't remember.”

“I just find that unbelievable,” Rep. Jim Jordan replied, “that the guy representing the Clinton campaign, the Democrat National Committee, shows up with information that says we got this, and you don't ask where he got it, you didn't know how he got it. But he got it from some, you know, quote, expert.”

Jordan asked Baker whether Sussmann ever mentioned he “may have got some of this information from the Democratic National Committee?”

“I am not sure what I knew about that at the time,” Baker said – a failure of memory that Sussmann’s lawyers are sure to take advantage of.

Baker suggested it was a mystery why Sussmann reached out to him – and then repeatedly made it clear exactly why Sussmann saw him as a possible collaborator. “I had a personal relationship with Michael,” Baker said, but “you'd have to ask him why he decided to pick me.”

And, as we noted yesterday, Baker had another key “personal relationship” that should have raised eyebrows at the Bureau. In fact it would have raised eyebrows in the “old Bureau”, but not in the Mueller/Comey Bureau:

How did a Mother Jones reporter/columnist [Leftist sleaze merchant David Corn] get chosen to drop a dime on Trump with the FBI?

“David is a friend of mine”

“Longtime friend?”

“Longtime friend.”

“When did you first meet Mr. Corn?”

“Years and years and years ago,” Baker said to congressional investigators.

I’ll leave you to read the rest of Felten’s article, but here’s his conclusion:

From Michael Sussmann’s relationship with the FBI’s general counsel, Jim Baker, to Baker’s friendship with David Corn of Mother Jones; from Bruce Ohr’s long connection with Christopher Steele to Steele’s decade-long association with Jonathan Winer, the stealthy dissemination of allegations against Trump, his businesses and his staff remains a blueprint of how Washington works.

Aaron Maté’s special angle on this web of Inside DC relationships focuses on the way the hoax was fed to “news” outlets. Among other MSM luminaries mentioned is Franklin Foer—then of Slate now of Politico. Foer is believed to be “Reporter-2” in the Sussmann indictment (you can read Jonathan Turley on that here: The Atlantic’s Franklin Foer Allegedly Identified as “Reporter-2” in the Sussmann Indictment). However, Maté also looks at the close coordination between the hoax conspirators and the Clinton Campaign itself. The indictment itself provides the bare 2+2 details that, if added up, yield 4. Here are some excerpts to show what I mean.

Like other writers, Maté reprises much of the detail in the indictment and explains some of the significance of it all for readers who may not have obsessively followed the story. However, check out these paragraphs for what they say about the Clinton Campaign:

… according to the detailed indictment, Sussmann was in fact cooking up a politically motivated scam.

The theory of a purported covert Trump-Alfa channel had been concocted by an unnamed tech executive positioning himself for a top cybersecurity job in the anticipated Clinton administration. To spread the theory to the media and intelligence community, the executive and Sussmann “coordinated”, Durham says, with Mark [sic] Elias, a colleague of Sussmann’s at Perkins Coie and the top lawyer for Clinton’s 2016 campaign.

Sussmann and Elias in turn coordinated with the private intelligence company Fusion GPS. Elias had already hired the firm – on Clinton’s behalf – to produce the Steele dossier, the collection of fabricated reports by ex-British spy Christopher Steele alleging a longstanding Trump-Russia conspiracy/blackmail relationship. According to Steele, it was Sussmann, in a July 2016 meeting, who first informed him about the Alfa Bank server story. Elias kept Clinton campaign members informed as well, including the “campaign manager, communications director, and foreign policy advisor.” In February 2017, Sussmann also met with a CIA official to push the Alfa Bank narrative.

Sussmann concealed this plot from the FBI, along with the fact that he was billing Clinton for his involvement. The meeting with the FBI’s Baker, for example, was charged to the Clinton campaign as “work and communications regarding confidential project.” In fact, according to Durham, “all or nearly all” of Sussmann’s work on the Alfa Bank story prior to meeting Baker was “billed to the Clinton campaign.”

This is explosive stuff, and illustrates why I’m skeptical that Elias has ratted out his fellow conspirators (as I’ve explained previously—Elias is a genuine Mr. Big in all this). 

Look at what’s being said. We know about Sussmann’s role in coordinating with the Tech Exec, Joffe. Joffe supplied the bogus tech data (DNS data) for the Alfa Bank hoax. We also know about Sussmann’s coordination with Glenn Simpson and Chris Steele at Fusion GPS. Simpson and Steele concocted the bogus “intel” sourcing that supposedly  “explained” the tech data that Joffe concocted. Here “explained” means, concocted a story that was “plausible” enough to fool—for a short while—a computer security expert, but not an actual DNS expert. There was no need to fool anyone for long—only for as long as it took the FBI to open an investigation and thus provide the news “hook” that would enable the MSM to trumpet to the world that the FBI was investigating Trump’s supposed Russia - Putin ties. The scheme worked to perfection, thanks to the FBI’s Baker accepting at face value the “narrative” of a known long time Clinton operative.

Yes, we already knew all that. But what the indictment also presents is Marc Elias’ role. Elias was the Clinton Campaign’s lawyer as well as the DNC’s lawyer. He was and still is the biggest name in Dem legal ops regarding elections. Elias hired Fusion—then, apparently, turned day to day coordination over to Sussmann. But Elias remained in contact and coordination with Sussmann. Elias surely knew all the hoaxes, and as a legal rep for the Clinton Campaign would have vetted and approved them. Beyond that, however, “Elias kept Clinton campaign members informed as well, including the “campaign manager, communications director, and foreign policy advisor.”

Think about that.

You can get an overview of the Clinton Campaign here. What you’ll see is that the campaign was broken down into four components:

Management and strategy - Robby Mook, Campaign manager

Communications - Jennifer Palmieri, Communications director

Policy and outreach - Jake Sullivan, Senior policy advisor

State directors

Elias, the lawyer at the beating heart of this entire operation, kept those three people informed. That’s what Durham is telling us—and remember: Jake Sullivan is currently NSA for Zhou.

Durham is telling us that this Alfa Bank hoax—and probably related matters—were Clinton Campaign ops at the very highest level. How credible is it to suppose that Hillary herself wasn’t in the know? That somebody at the top of the campaign would allow her to put out tweets like these (which are still ‘out there’), linking her to the hoax?

This is how big Durham’s investigation is. Will DC allow this to continue is the big question.