A top Republican working to expose problems with the Trump-Russia investigation contends the alleged lies exposed by special counsel John Durham matter because they underpinned and spurred on years of federal investigations.
Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan, ranking member on the House Judiciary Committee, told the Washington Examiner the Durham developments are a "positive" step toward accountability.
The special counsel's charges against Igor Danchenko, Christopher Steele's main source, and Democratic lawyer Michael Sussmann detail the deep links Hillary Clinton's campaign had in creating and spreading the dossier and the refuted claims that Russia's Alfa Bank and the Trump Organization had a secret back channel. Steele was hired by Fusion GPS, which had been hired by Marc Elias, then general counsel of Clinton's campaign.
Danchenko, a U.S.-based and Russian-born analyst, was charged with making false statements in 2017 to the FBI about his sources, including about the role Clinton ally Charles Dolan played in supplying at least the basis of certain claims. Durham pointed out Dolan spent years doing business in and for Russia and passed information to Danchenko in 2016.
Jordan said there were "three takeaways" from Durham.
"The first is that these aren't just your typical 1001 lying to the FBI," he said. "In other words, the Sussmann and Danchenko lies weren't to Durham and his investigative team. They were the lies to the FBI at the start of the whole charade, at the start of the whole Trump-Russia thing.
"So, these are lies from 2016 and 2017. I think that's a key distinction. These are indictments from the original lies. This is not a lie. These are the lies that started the whole Russia investigation."
DURHAM THEORY APPEARS TO BE TRUMP-RUSSIA COLLUSION WAS LARGELY A CLINTON FABRICATION
The Steele dossier was used by the FBI to obtain secret surveillance, and its release set up a false narrative pushed by Democrats and parts of the media. Robert Mueller's special counsel investigation continued what the FBI began.
DOJ inspector general Michael Horowitz wrote in 2019 that Crossfire Hurricane was opened "with sufficient factual predication." But Durham and then-Attorney General William Barr disagreed.
The "opening electronic communication" for Crossfire Hurricane was authored by FBI special agent Peter Strzok in July 2016. The investigation allegedly opened after Australian diplomat Alexander Downer informed the United States about the claims from George Papadopoulos following a May 2016 conversation he had in a London wine bar in which the Trump campaign associate mentioned Russia might have dirt on Clinton. The FBI didn't interview Papadopoulos until January 2017, when Papadopoulos revealed his April 2016 conversations with Maltese professor Joseph Mifsud, who the Trump campaign adviser claimed told him the Russians held damaging information.
Jordan asked Mueller in 2019 if he'd interviewed Mifsud, if Mifsud lied, and whether Mifsud was Western intelligence or Russian intelligence. Mueller replied, "I can't get into that" each time, prompting Jordan to lament: "The central figure [Mifsud] who launches it all lies to us, and you guys don't hunt him down and interview him again, and you don't charge him with a crime."
Jordan told the Washington Examiner: "The second thing is it's what we've said all along. It was never Trump who colluded with the Russians. It was the Clinton campaign working with Russians to then get information to Christopher Steele, which then got to the FBI and, shazam, they start this whole thing.
"Particularly with Danchenko, when you read that indictment, it's like, this goes right back to Clinton. This is Dolan. This goes right back to the Clinton operatives."
Horowitz released a report in December 2019 that concluded Steele's Clinton campaign-funded dossier played a "central and essential" role in the FBI's effort to obtain wiretap orders against Carter Page. The DOJ watchdog criticized the bureau for at least 17 "significant errors and omissions."
Horowitz also said Danchenko contradicted the allegations of a "well-developed conspiracy" in Steele's dossier.
"I think maybe the third thing is, how did the FBI not know?" Jordan said. "How did they not know that when Sussmann comes in and talks to them that this was garbage about the Alfa Bank stuff and the relationship to Trump? How did they not know? Because remember, when Sussmann comes in, he doesn't talk to just anybody at the FBI. He's talking with Jim Baker, the chief counsel of the FBI, and he just hands him false information."
Horowitz said in his report that the FBI "concluded by early February 2017 that there were no such links" between Alfa Bank and the Trump Organization.
When asked whether the FBI was tricked by Steele and Sussmann or whether the bureau knew the information was likely false but ran with it anyway, Jordan leaned toward the FBI bearing significant responsibility.
"The short answer is, I don't know, but I lean towards the latter," Jordan said. "I lean towards, ‘Come on.' And I base that on just what we've seen. How could you actually believe the dossier in the first place? And you used it four times to get the renewals and everything else on Carter Page … I lean towards the idea that they had to know that this was bogus, but we'll see."
The FBI made wide use of the dossier, and then, Director James Comey pushed to include it in the 2017 intelligence community assessment on Russian interference.
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Biden national security adviser Jake Sullivan played a big role in spreading the Alfa Bank claims during the 2016 election.
When asked whether Sullivan might be scrutinized by Durham, Jordan said it looked like that was possible.
"When you read through the Danchenko indictment and you see that it's going right back to Clinton people who were starting this whole story, I assume it's what we always thought. It was to take the heat off of Clinton herself," Jordan said. "So, I don't know for sure, but it seems like that's where Durham is kind of pushing, and if that's the case, then maybe he will want to talk to Sullivan, and maybe he has."
Original Location: Jim Jordan says lies exposed by Durham matter because they underpinned Trump-Russia investigation
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