Paul Sperry has a very lengthy article at Real Clear Investigations today. In a sense, the article confirms what I observed last week—that while initial interest was still focused on the Sussmann indictment, interest would soon shift to the absorbing question of: Who else faces legal jeopardy? In that spirit, Sperry writes:
White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan figures prominently in a grand jury investigation run by Special Counsel John Durham into an alleged 2016 Hillary Clinton campaign scheme to use both the FBI and CIA to tar Donald Trump as a colluder with Russia, according to people familiar with the criminal probe, which they say has broadened into a conspiracy case.
Sullivan is facing scrutiny, sources say, over potentially false statements he made about his involvement in the effort. As a senior foreign policy adviser to Clinton, Sullivan spearheaded what was known inside her campaign as a “confidential project” to link Trump to the Kremlin through dubious email-server records provided to the agencies, said the sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
As I said, the article is a massive info dump. For that reason I’m going to leave readers to follow the link and read about, for example, Sussmann’s attempts to peddle the Alfa Bank hoax material to the CIA—including in the context of the Intelligence Community Assessment that attempted to tar then President-Elect Trump as a Russian agent. Was this part of a last ditch effort to prevent an inauguration of Donald Trump as POTUS? It’s complicated and the information we possess is inconclusive, but I recommend it to your attention.
Now, for our purposes here I want to focus specifically on what Sperry has to say about current Zhou national security adviser Jake Sullivan—who in 2016 was one of Hillary’s top campaign advisers. Sullivan has long been a person of interest for us—see here for past posts re Sullivan. Yesterday in Follow-up: The Belly Of The DC Beast we pointed out that, while Sullivan is unnamed in the Sussmann indictment, in fact he played a very important part in Durham’s exposition of the conspiracy that hatched the Alfa Bank hoax:
… 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
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? …
This picture that Durham presents in bare bones fashion is fleshed out by Sperry. In a striking passage that actually appears near the end of the article, Sperry draws attention to the fact that the whole Trump - Russia “narrative” was at the very center of the Clinton Campaign’s strategy, and had been approved by Hillary herself. Moreover, far from this being strictly an opposition research operation run by Sussmann and Glenn Simpson’s Fusion GPS (featuring Chris Steele, of course), what we see is that Sullivan was intimately involved in peddling the Russia Hoax to the media as early as July, 2016. In fact, as Sperry says, it looks like Sullivan really did “spearhead” the whole thing. Please note, as well, Jennifer Palmieri’s confirmation of all this:
Jake Sullivan’s Golf Cart Rounds
In late July 2016, during the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, the CIA picked up Russian chatter about a Clinton foreign policy adviser who was trying to develop allegations to “vilify" Trump. The intercepts said Clinton herself had approved a “plan" to “stir up a scandal” against Trump by tying him to Putin. According to hand-written notes, then-CIA chief John Brennan warned President Obama that Moscow had intercepted information about the “alleged approval by Hillary Clinton on July 26, 2016, of a proposal from one of her foreign policy advisers to vilify Donald Trump.” That summer, Brennan had personally briefed Democrats, including then-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, on the Alfa Bank-Trump server rumors, according to congressional reports. Reid fired off a letter to Comey demanding that the FBI do more to investigate Trump's ties to Russia.
During that convention, Sullivan drove a golf cart from one TV-network news tent in the parking lot to another, pitching producers and anchors a story that Trump was conspiring with Putin to steal the election. CNN, ABC News, CBS News, and NBC News, as well as Chris Wallace of Fox News, all gave him airtime to spin the Clinton campaign’s unfounded theories. Sullivan also gave off-camera background briefings to reporters.
"We were on a mission," Clinton campaign spokeswoman Jennifer Palmieri later admitted in a Washington Post column. “We wanted to raise the alarm."
Yes, Sullivan was Clinton’s foreign policy adviser. Thus, it comes as no surprise that Sullivan himself publicly embraced the Alfa Bank hoax in a crude but official campaign statement tweeted out by Hillary (as noted yesterday):
With that as background, let’s turn to Sperry’s examination of Sullivan’s unconvincing ex post facto attempts to distance himself from the Alfa Bank hoax in Congressional testimony. Before we go there, however, it may be worthwhile to be clear regarding Sullivan’s legal, educational, and professional pedigree:
Sullivan attended Yale University, where he majored in international studies and political science and was awarded the Alpheus Henry Snow Prize. He was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa his senior year and graduated summa cum laude with distinction in 1998 with a Bachelor of Arts. Sullivan won a Rhodes Scholarship to attend Magdalen College, Oxford, where he studied international relations. He was awarded a Marshall Scholarship the same year but turned it down in favor of the Rhodes. While at Oxford, Sullivan served as a managing editor of the Oxford International Review and was on the second place team at the 2000 World Universities Debating Championship in Sydney, Australia. In 2000, he graduated with a Master of Philosophy in international relations. He graduated with a Juris Doctor from Yale Law School in 2003.
At Yale, he was an editor of the Yale Law Journal and the Yale Daily News. He was a member of the Yale Debate Association and earned a Truman Scholarship in his junior year. He also worked for Brookings Institution president Strobe Talbott at the Yale Center for the Study of Globalization.
After graduating from law school, Sullivan clerked for Judge Guido Calabresi of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit and then for Justice Stephen Breyer of the United States Supreme Court. After his clerkships, Sullivan returned to his hometown of Minneapolis to practice law at Faegre & Benson and taught law as an adjunct professor at the University of St. Thomas School of Law. After Faegre & Benson, Sullivan worked as chief counsel to Senator Amy Klobuchar, who connected him to Clinton.
In 2008, Sullivan was an advisor to Hillary Clinton during the primary cycle and then to Barack Obama during the general election campaign. He prepared Clinton and Obama for debates. When Clinton became Secretary of State, Sullivan joined as her deputy chief of staff and Director of Policy Planning, and he travelled with her to 112 countries.
Sullivan worked in the Obama administration as Deputy Assistant to the President and National Security Advisor to U.S. Vice President Joe Biden. He became Biden's top security aide in February 2013 after Clinton stepped down as Secretary of State. In those posts, he played a role in shaping U.S. foreign policy towards Libya, Syria, and Myanmar.
On June 20, 2014, The New York Times reported that Sullivan was leaving the administration in August 2014 to teach at Yale Law School. As of 2020, he was a nonresident senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
OK, so that’s the guy who went in front of the US Congress in December, 2017, and lied his ass off. Apparently it never occurred to this very smart guy that John Durham
Durham was born in Boston, Massachusetts. He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Colgate University in 1972 and a Juris Doctor from the University of Connecticut School of Law in 1975. After graduation, he was a VISTA volunteer for two years (1975–1977) on the Crow Indian Reservation in Montana.
would later compare his emails with Marc Elias to his congressional testimony. Woops!
The indictment states that Sussmann, as well as the cyber experts recruited for the operation, "coordinated with representatives and agents of the Clinton campaign with regard to the data and written materials that Sussmann gave to the FBI and the media."
One of those campaign agents was Sullivan, according to emails Durham obtained. On Sept. 15, 2016 – just four days before Sussmann handed off the materials to the FBI – Marc Elias, his law partner and fellow Democratic Party operative, "exchanged emails with the Clinton campaign’s foreign policy adviser concerning the Russian bank allegations," as well as with other top campaign officials, the indictment states.
Hmmm. That’s interesting timing. Back in the day timing like that always piqued my interest. But the beauty of this is that Durham doesn’t have to speculate about the significance of the timing, because he’s got the emails. He knows who said what to whom, and when they said it. Which is always helpful when you’re looking to nail someone for false statements to Congress.
The sources close to the case confirmed the "foreign policy adviser" referenced by title is Sullivan. They say he was briefed on the development of the opposition-research materials tying Trump to Alfa Bank, and was aware of the participants in the project. These included the Washington opposition-research group Fusion GPS, which worked for the Clinton campaign as a paid agent and helped gather dirt on Alfa Bank and draft the materials Elias discussed with Sullivan, the materials Sussmann would later submit to the FBI. Fusion researchers were in regular contact with both Sussmann and Elias about the project in the summer and fall of 2016. Sullivan also personally met with Elias, who briefed him on Fusion's opposition research, according to the sources.
Reread that paragraph if necessary, because next we come to all Sullivan’s lies to Congress. It all does make you wonder whether Durham got that information only from emails or … possibly from someone close to the Clinton Campaign who’s been cooperating? Shipwreckedcrew thinks that Elias could be the one. I was a bit skeptical, but now nothing would surprise me.
Anyway, on to Sullivan’s congressional testimony.
Sullivan maintained in congressional testimony in December 2017 that he didn’t know of Fusion’s involvement in the Alfa Bank opposition research. In the same closed-door testimony before the House Intelligence Committee, he also denied knowing anything about Fusion in 2016 or who was conducting the opposition research for the campaign.
"Marc [Elias] ... would occasionally give us updates on the opposition research they were conducting, but I didn't know what the nature of that effort was – inside effort, outside effort, who was funding it, who was doing it, anything like that," Sullivan stated under oath.
Sullivan also testified he didn’t know that Perkins Coie, the law firm where Elias and Sussmann were partners, was working for the Clinton campaign until October 2017, when it was reported in the media as part of stories revealing the campaign's contract with Fusion, which also produced the so-called Steele dossier. Sullivan maintained he didn’t even know that the politically prominent Elias worked for Perkins Coie, a well-known Democratic law firm. Major media stories from 2016 routinely identified Elias as "general counsel for the Clinton campaign" and a "partner at Perkins Coie."
"To be honest with you, Marc wears a tremendous number of hats, so I wasn’t sure who he was representing," Sullivan testified. "I sort of thought he was, you know, just talking to us as, you know, a fellow traveler in this — in this campaign effort."
Although he acknowledged knowing Elias and his partner were marshaling opposition researchers for a campaign project targeting Trump, Sullivan insisted, "They didn’t do something with it."
All of that would be utterly unbelievable on its face, without the emails or other sources of information to prove it’s all lies. As it is, you’d have to believe Sullivan is in very deep trouble.