A former top House Intelligence Committee investigator instrumental in revealing secrets behind the “Russiagate” controversy said the latest grand jury indictment in special counsel John Durham’s inquiry offers a good view into a broader charge that may follow.
Kash Patel, who also held high-ranking positions in the Trump administration, told Fox News on Monday he believes a “very well-laid out” conspiracy charge is in the making that will envelop people in and around Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign.
The indictment, returned by a grand jury last week, accuses Michael Sussmann, a former attorney from law firm Perkins Coie, of falsely telling the FBI’s top lawyer he was not representing any clients when acting on behalf of a technology executive and the Clinton campaign during a Sept. 2016 meeting in which he shared a tip about a secret electronic channel between former President Donald Trump’s company and Russia’s Alfa bank.
Sussmann pleaded not guilty to a charge of lying to the FBI on Friday, with lawyers insisting he never said he didn’t have clients and represented only the technology executive at the meeting five years ago. However, Patel said the 27 pages of the indictment tell a much larger story slowly coming into play.
“Sussman is the centerpiece for these allegations because he ties the Hillary Clinton campaign to Fusion GPS to Christopher Steele to the Department of Justice and the false information they fed to the FBI and DOJ to spy on the presidential campaign,” Patel said.
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The indictment says paperwork shows Sussmann billed the Clinton campaign for time spent working on the Alfa Bank matter and the meeting with the FBI. The indictment also alleges Marc Elias, another now-former Perkins Coie attorney who served as general counsel for the Clinton campaign, exchanged emails with the “campaign manager, communications director, and foreign policy advisor” about the Russian bank allegations, and Sussmann helped coordinate the dissemination of the claims to the media.
Before joining the Trump administration for roles in the national security sphere, Patel was an aide to Republicans when they controlled the House Intelligence Committee under then-Chairman Devin Nunes. He assisted in their investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election and took one of the key depositions cited in the indictment.
Law firm Perkins Coie has already been tied to the Russia matter. Robby Mook, Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign manager, said in 2017 he authorized Elias to hire an outside firm to dig up dirt on Trump’s connections with Russia in 2016. This led to British ex-spy Christopher Steele’s discredited anti-Trump dossier, comprised of allegations put together at the behest of opposition research firm Fusion GPS.
Patel helped author the 2018 memo on Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act alleged abuses during the Russia investigation that focus on the FBI’s use of Steele’s dossier to obtain the authority to wiretap one-time Trump campaign aide Carter Page. Though hotly criticized by Democrats at the time, the memo was largely borne as quite accurate by DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz’s report in 2019 and declassifications. Durham even obtained a guilty plea from former FBI lawyer Kevin Clinesmith, who admitted to altering an email about the Trump campaign aide under government surveillance.
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Nunes, a Republican from California who made more than a dozen criminal referrals to the Justice Department related to the Russia investigation and 2016 campaign, told Newsmax last week the new indictment provides a great deal of evidence showing a broad conspiracy orchestrated by the Clinton team. Still, he wondered if Sussmann might become the “fall guy” in the end.
Benjamin Wittes, editor-in-chief of Lawfare, shrugged at the prospect of Durham zeroing in on the Clinton campaign.
“Digging dirt on political opponents and trying to interest law enforcement in that dirt is not presumptively a crime. It’s presumptively the ugly normal of political campaigns,” he wrote in a post on Monday.
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Tags: News, John Durham, House Intelligence Committee, Hillary Clinton, Russia, 2016 Elections, Donald Trump
Original Author: Daniel Chaitin
Original Location: Durham preparing ‘very well-laid out’ conspiracy charge, ‘Russiagate’ inquirer says