Perspective On The FBI And The Sussmann Case

It’s useful to get multiple perspectives on almost any matter of public interest, and the Sussmann case is no exception.

One person whom I’ve repeatedly turned to has been shipwreckedcrew. While his most recent substack article doesn’t add too much beyond what he’s already discussed on his Twitter feed (which we’ve referenced), his choice of emphasis is important for offering clear perspective. A commenter at his feed hits this one on the add. As I stated in a comment last night, #6 of the indictment clearly states that Sussmann’s clients (Joffe and the Clinton Campaign) were actively engaged in a criminal conspiracy. SWC’s commenter provides the key quote from the substack article:

SWC, in turn, points out the perspective on the FBI’s attitude that Andy McCarthy offered via Twitter. This is important because, as we saw, both FBI General Counsel James Baker and the head of Counterintelligence, Bill Priestap, expressed reservations to each other regarding Sussmann’s motives in providing the Alfa Bank hoax material to Baker at the FBI. Those reservations are known not merely from Baker’s after-the-fact Congressional testimony but also from contemporaneous hand written notes by Priestap. And that raises the question: Knowing what they knew, why did Baker and Priestap decide to go ahead and start an investigation? McCarthy—as summarized by SWC:

I think we can assume that McCarthy, like SWC, has been reading all the documents—both court filings and various testimony (Congressional, but also Steele’s testimony in the Alfa Bank civil case). The more he sees the more McCarthy is coming around to the view that FBI dislike for Trump overcame what should have been professional prudence in accepting information from a clearly partisan source—no matter what Sussmann may have said about being an ‘independent’ actor. Priestap resigned in disgrace and Baker has blotted his career. You can bet that McCarthy, as also SWC, did not come to that assessment of “the FBI” (meaning the top management, Ass’t Director and above) lightly. They’re both reflexively pro-Bureau, based on past experience.

SWC has also been comparing Sussmann’s Congressional testimony with the information Durham has gleaned from all the documentation he has accumulated from billing records and comms. I’m pleased that SWC expresses the same view that I expressed to a lawyer friend last week. I said at that time that I couldn’t see any way that Sussmann could ever take the stand in a trial—which leaves one wondering what sort of a defense he could mount. SWC provides the outline of the chapter and verse—and it’s pretty brutal:

In the indictment Durham makes numerous references to the billing records which describe the Alfa Bank scam as a "confidential project."

But the way [Sussmann] describes it in his testimony is that its just info dropped into his lap by Tech Exec-1, and he's not sure what to do with it.

[Sussmann] claimed he reached out to Baker so he could hand it off discretely, and Baker could make a judgment about what to do with it given its sensitivity and the election. He didn't want to create problems for the FBI. He said he told Baker he didn't want to know what the FBI did.

He just wanted to get it into Baker's hands and let Baker decide what should be done with it given all the circumstances.

Just so stupid now against the backdrop of all the Perkins Coie records that Durham has.

Sussmann never imagined Durham would know as much as he knows.

AND THEN he has to go on to admit when Patel asked him about it that he discussed this super sensitive information with the New York Times, WaPo, and Slate. What a fucking liar. He can NEVER get on the witness stand. He'll be crucified in cross-exam.

Brutal. Note to self: Next time you testify under oath, in framing responses consider what you may have put in writing elsewhere.

SWC goes on to offer a kinda-sorta defense of James Baker. There’s no doubt that Baker is probably very knowledgeable in the area of national security law—especially FISA. There’s also no doubt that Baker will stick to his GJ testimony—and I strongly suspect that Baker was seriously jammed up because of his actions with regard to Crossfire Hurricane and, perhaps, the Flynn case. However, assessing someone’s motives from a distance is always a bit iffy. From my perspective being “close to Jim Comey” and being a NeverTrump is pretty much Strike One and Strike Two:

2. Baker actually has decent roots in the Bush Justice Department, and is close to Jim Comey. He might have not liked Donald Trump, but that doesn't mean he's on board with DNC political operatives like Sussmann. Baker can see as well as everyone that the DNC cooked up Steele.

Baker's entire DOJ career before he went to be General Counsel of the FBI was overseeing pretty much everything in DOJ having to do with FISA. This is in the time frame of 2001 to 2008. He's probably in that group of "NeverTrump" GOP from Bush 43 Admin.

But I get the feeling [Baker’s] not okay with what is obvious corruption and illegal activity engaged in by the Clinton Campaign, DNC, and political operatives in the Obama Administration during the 2016 election.

A strike three that’s not even close—my opinion—can be found in two older articles by Chuck Ross. Actually, these look a bit like Strikes Three, Four, and Five, or something like that. Again, that’s me:

Ex-FBI Official: Fusion GPS Founder Tried To ‘Elevate’ Dossier By Spreading It All Around Washington

Ex-FBI Official Says He Received Steele Dossier From Reporter

A few paragraphs from the first article will say pretty much all:

James Baker, the former general counsel for the FBI, told Congress last October that the bureau was aware that [Glenn Simpson] of Fusion GPS was spreading the Steele dossier “to a lot of different” people in government and the media in an effort to “elevate” the document’s profile.

Baker also told lawmakers in his Oct. 3, 2018 testimony that his longtime friend, the liberal reporter David Corn, was “anxious” to provide him with the dossier.

Baker’s testimony, which was first detailed by The Wall Street Journal and has been confirmed by The Daily Caller News Foundation, sheds new light on what the FBI knew about efforts before the election to spread the dossier, which was written by former British spy Christopher Steele and financed by the Clinton campaign and DNC.

Republicans have criticized the FBI for failing to disclose those efforts in applications for Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrants against Carter Page, a former Trump campaign adviser who is a major target of the Steele report. Some GOP lawmakers have asserted that the FBI should have been leery of Steele and Fusion’s opposition research of Trump.

I call that a very unflattering picture. When I was a kid the nuns always warned us against associating with “bad companions”. Baker obviously never got that memo. Durham will use his testimony, but don’t anybody waste sympathy on James Baker. Save it for someone more deserving.