How Russiagate became the story of old friends in high places

Eric Felten for RealClearInvestigations

Washington Attorney Michael Susman’s allegations expose the hands of high-powered Democrats accused of lying to the FBI for cheating Donald Trump during the 2016 campaign. A card they have repeatedly played to advance the Trump-Russia conspiracy theory: friends in high places.

They began a secret investigation using friends from law enforcement; They used friends from the federal government to expand that investigation; And they use friends in the media to spread rumors that Trump and his organization are under investigation.

Russia’s fiasco was metastasized in large part because of the important connections of those involved in advancing the false allegations. They used friendships with powerful federal officials to encourage partisan investigations against Trump.

The targets by Susman and others were innocent outsiders, and the lack of such connections was so exploitative by insiders.

Related: Durham seeks to accuse lawyer of befriending Clinton for lying to FBI about Trump-Russia meeting

Susman was a partner in the 2016 law firm Perkins Coy in 2016, which represented the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.

But, according to a complaint filed last week by Special Counsel John Durham, when he met with FBI General Counsel James Baker and complained about Trump’s diplomacy with the Russians, Susman claimed he was representing another client. The allegation is false.

Meeting with the FBI’s top lawyer was not easy. But it was for Susman.

No one can just call the bureau’s general council and get a personal sit-down with the presidential candidate’s outspoken claim of conspiracy theories. And that’s exactly what Susman did. How? Because, Baker told congressional investigators, Susman came to him “based on a previous relationship.”

1 closed October, 201 closed, Back-Door In a congressional statement, Baker told lawmakers about Susman’s misleading claim that a computer server at Trump Tower was in secret contact with a possible Russian government cutout, Alpha Bank.

“So he was making a description – which seemed to be a secret channel of communication – communication between some parts of President Trump, I would say the organization but it could be his business. I don’t want to say like the Trump Organization. I mean his enterprise with which he was associated. Some parts of it and one – an organization affiliated with it – a Russian organization affiliated with the Russian government, and it was “operated in such a way that it developed as a secret communication channel.”

When Baker asked him how he came to this information, according to Baker, Susman said, “There were some cyber experts who somehow got this information and somehow brought it to his attention, and they were apprehensive about what they showed, and so, they told the FBI. Wanted to bring to notice.

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

Faced with poor sourcing for an unreasonable allegation, Baker may be expected to ask a lawyer who had some investigative questions closely with the Firm Democratic Party. But if he did, he would be lost in the fog of memories. “I can’t remember,” Baker asked members of Congress, who knew that Susman was billing the DNC and Clinton’s campaign to talk to Baker.

“I don’t remember exactly when I learned it. So I don’t know if he was in my head when he showed up at my office. I just can’t remember. ”

Republican Jim Jordan said, “I think it’s incredible,” the man who represents the Clinton campaign, the Democrat National Committee, showed information that said we got it, and you don’t ask where he got it, you knew how he got it. No. But he got it from someone, you know, quote, expert.

Jordan asked Baker if Susman had ever mentioned that he could “get this information from the Democratic National Committee.”

Related: Clinton-linked lawyer who leaked information to FBI Trump-Russia conspiracy

“I’m not sure what I knew at the time,” Baker said.

Baker suggested that it was a mystery why Susman reached out to him – and then repeatedly explained why Susman saw him as a potential collaborator. “I had a personal relationship with Michael, but you have to ask him why he decided to choose me,” Baker said. “

“And so what you’re saying is that you were a mediator for Parkinson’s and the FBI because of your personal relationship with that lawyer?” Then-representative Mark Meadows asked.

“I believe so,” Baker replied – but he did so cautiously: “You have to ask Michael why he came to me.” Susman could give a reasonable answer that going to Baker was the best way to achieve his goal – after all, the Baker Bureau passed the information to investigators, and soon a story will be told in Slate and the New York Times that the FBI “investigated” Trump and Russia.

On her behalf, Susman told congressional investigators that when she met with Baker, she told him “I was not looking for the FBI to do anything. I had no questions. I had no requests.”

Susman was not the only old friend who told James Baker the story of the Russian conspiracy. In the fall of 2016, another Washingtonian, including General Counsel Kan, was David Korn, head of the Washington bureau of the left-wing magazine Mother Jones.

“Some part of David that is now referred to as the Steel Dossier and he talked to me about it and wanted to provide it to the FBI,” Baker told lawmakers. “And so, even though he was my friend, I was also an FBI officer. He knew that. And so he somehow wanted to get it into the hands of the FBI.”

How did a Mother Jones reporter / columnist choose to drop a penny on Trump with the FBI?

“David is my friend”

“Longtime friend?”

“Longtime friend.”

“When did you first meet Mr. Korn?”

“Years and years and years ago,” Baker told congressional investigators. “Our kids have carpooled together. We used to carpool with our kids when they were younger. ”

Like Susman’s equipment, the baker took dossier sections from David Korn and passed them on to the FBI’s counter-intelligence agents.

Having such a relationship is not seen as a liability, not as a risk of bias, but as something that enhances the credibility of the information you are passing on.

Related: Rand Paul worked on FBI Director War at Russiagate: ‘You took this hook, line and sinker’

Consider Christopher Steele, a former British agent who mastered the art of cultivating friends in the highlands. In 2007, he met Bruce Ohr at an organized crime conference. They met once or twice a year, whenever Ohr was in London or in Steel Washington. Orbis, formed after the private intelligence agency Steel MI left, created a steady stream of brief reports; Steel shared them with Ohr.

Their friendship escalated to the point that in the spring of 2010, O’Hara linked Steele to the FBI and “pushed” the bureau to make his friend an FBI payer, a “confidential human resource.” The relationship he has built with Ohr over the years will be helpful when Ohr becomes one of the highest-ranking officials in the judiciary, associate deputy attorney general – especially since Steele is not the only Bruce Ohr to connect with.

Ohr became “personally acquainted” with Glenn Simpson at similar policy conferences year after year. The relationship was further strengthened when the opposition research firm Simpson’s co-founded Fusion GPS hired O’Hare’s wife, Nellie, as an independent contractor.

When it came time to tap Steel’s Ohr to launch a counter-intelligence investigation into Trump’s campaign, Steele used all the traps of friendship between international sophistry: he took Ohr for breakfast at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington.

Shortly before the 2011 election, Christopher Steele had a feud with the FBI, who discovered that he was not respecting the “confidential” part of his contract as a confidential human resource.

But thanks to Steele and Simpson’s relationship with Bruce Ohr, Steele has not lost the ability to influence the FBI. He began to funnel his false stories to the bureau through Bruce Ohr. Lawmakers asked James Baker why the FBI turned off Steel as an official source and turned to Bruce Ohr as a way to continue collecting information from Steel.

Baker saw Ohr’s friendship with Steele as an asset, not a liability: “Bruce,” Baker said, “had some sort of prior relationship with the source.”

Ohr was not the only official steel; He became friends with Jonathan Winer around 2000. And while Foggy was downstairs, Winner did not forget his old friend from London.

Over the years, Winner has encouraged state colleagues to read research reports produced by Steel’s private Intel company Orbis. Winner Victoria Nuland’s State Department has distributed more than 100 Steel Intel memos to the Eurasia team.

Backstory: Meet Russia who couldn’t verify anything in the Steel Dossier, yet said nothing year after year

He himself promoted Steele: “Three Reports of Toria and Paul, Orbis,” Winner wrote in an email in November 2014, showing the basis of his nickname and first name with “Toria” Nuland and his deputy Paul W. Jones.

He added, “The people behind them and Orbis, Chris Steele (mentioned earlier, former MI Russia expert and a faithful friend of mine) are in DC for the next few days. If you want to meet him, let me know and I can put it together. Winer promoted the steel dossier with less emphasis and enthusiasm, distributing it among his friends across the state.

From Michael Susman’s relationship with Jim Baker, the FBI’s general counsel, to Baker’s friendship with David Korn of Mother Jones; From Bruce O’Hara’s long relationship with Christopher Steele to Steele’s decades-long relationship with Jonathan Weiner, the silent propaganda of allegations against Trump, his business and his staff, remains a blueprint for how Washington works.

Syndicated with permission from RealClearWire.

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