Special counsel John Durham is set to testify Wednesday before the House Judiciary Committee on the failures of the FBI and Justice Department in investigating whether Donald Trump colluded with Russia to win the White House in 2016.
Durham’s written report on his findings clearly shows that the so-called Steele and Alfa dossiers were products of Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.
Unfortunately, the special counsel’s report hasn’t resulted in real accountability, and those who investigated Trump for Russian “collusion” are still investigating the former president.
Here are 13 lines of questioning for Judiciary Committee members who want to get to the truth in their exchanges with Durham.
1. You reported that then-CIA Director John Brennan briefed President Barack Obama, National Intelligence Director James Clapper, FBI Director James Comey, and others on Hillary Clinton’s 2016 plan to vilify Trump by linking him to Russian actors. You also reported that you found no evidence that the FBI considered whether and how Clinton’s alleged plot might affect its “Crossfire Hurricane” investigation into potential Trump-Russia collusion.
“No FBI personnel who were interviewed by the [special counsel’s] office recalled Crossfire Hurricane personnel taking any action to vet the Clinton Plan intelligence,” according to your report. “This stands in sharp contrast to [the FBI’s] substantial reliance on the uncorroborated Steele reports, which at least some FBI personnel appeared to know were likely being funded or promoted by the Clinton campaign.”
Please explain why there is such an apparent discrepancy in the FBI’s investigative curiosity as it relates to these patterns of fact.
2. Why did you fail to compel the interviews of such persons as Clinton, Clapper, Brennan, Comey, former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, former FBI lawyer Kevin Clinesmith, who falsified FISA applications; Glenn Simpson, a partner in the opposition research firm Fusion GPS; Nellie Ohr, a Fusion GPS employee; Bruce Ohr, her husband and a former associate deputy attorney general (as well as former director of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force); former FBI agent and “Crossfire Hurricane” leader Peter Strzok; or Bill Priestap, assistant director of the FBI’s Counterintelligence Division from 2015 to 2018, who oversaw operations related to “Crossfire Hurricane.”
3. Your staff was reported to be remarkably small given the breadth and gravity of your responsibilities. Why did you have so few investigators and prosecutors on your staff?
4. During congressional testimony, an FBI assistant director of counterintelligence recently claimed that she not only had not read your report but did not know anyone who had. Some say that this complete indifference to your report is both entirely predictable and a direct consequence of your failure to hold anyone in the FBI or Justice Department accountable. How do you explain that no one that the FBI’s assistant director of counterintelligence knows has read your report.
5. Igor Danchenko and Rodney Joffee were both confidential sources for the FBI. Danchenko was former British spy Christopher Steele’s source of disinformation in the fictitious Steele dossier, and Joffee played an instrumental role in creating the fictitious Alfa Bank dossier. When did you learn that these men were FBI sources?
6. Your report noted that the FBI abandoned its “own principles regarding objectivity and integrity,” but nothing appears to have changed within the FBI as of this month. You report says: “The FBI ignored the fact that at no time before, during or after Crossfire Hurricane were investigators able to corroborate a single substantive allegation in the Steele dossier reporting.” Even so, no one has been held accountable. Please explain how you believe that you fulfilled your mandate.
7. Many eyebrows were raised inside the Washington Beltway when you charged former prosecutor Michael Sussmann under 18 USC 1001, suggesting that Sussmann had deceived then-FBI General Counsel James Baker when he provided Baker with the Alfa dossier and told Baker it was not agitprop from the Clinton campaign. It was common knowledge inside the Beltway, and certainly within the FBI, that Sussmann was not only Clinton’s attorney but a longstanding associate, if not friend, of Baker. We understand that Sussmann even had a pass to enter FBI facilities unescorted.
Your report further noted how, upon receiving the Alfa dossier, the FBI falsely documented that it was received from the Justice Department and an anonymous source, never mentioning anywhere in the Alfa Dossier case that it was derived from Clinton’s lawyer and paid for and created by the Clinton campaign. As you know, the fact that the FBI lied about the source of the Alfa dossier is an incriminating indication that the FBI knew of the true source of the Alfa dossier.
Do you really believe that Baker and the FBI didn’t know the source of the Alfa dossier, regardless of whatever was said during the Sussmann-Baker meeting?
8. Did your investigators have free access to FBI emails, text messages, and Lync communications on both the unclassified and secret sides? Explain the extent of access your investigators had to the work of special counsel Robert Mueller’s earlier probe and other Crossfire Hurricane-related investigations.
9. The late FBI boss Mark Felt, revealed in recent years as the anonymous source Deep Throat in The Washington Post’s Watergate reporting, was indicted and convicted in 1980 for violating American citizens’ civil liberties under 18 USC 241 for actions during the 1970s that were quite like the abuses you documented in your report. Why does Section 241 not apply in these circumstances?
10. Many retired FBI agents suggest that the weaponization of the FBI and Justice Department is systemic at this point, and that the institution needs to be replaced. How would you address this problem?
11. Hillary Clinton’s campaign claimed that Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential election by hacking Democratic Party computer servers and releasing the material through Wikileaks to help elect Trump. Your team found that the Clinton campaign and its contractor, the cyberfirm CrowdStrike, stonewalled the FBI’s requests for critical data about the alleged Russian hack.
In an astonishing departure from policy, the FBI never looked at the Democratic National Committee servers and relied entirely on CrowdStrike’s forensics and redacted reports only after those reports were reviewed and approved by DNC law firm Perkins Coie.
Why did you not press Sussmann, the Clinton campaign lawyer, and Sean Henry, the former FBI executive who was CrowdStrike president, on why they denied the FBI access to the DNC servers and provided only redacted draft reports from CrowdStrike?
12. Emails you released show that Sussmann, who provided Baker with the fictitious Alfa dossier hit piece, personally reviewed and edited an official FBI public statement on the alleged DNC hack. Sussmann had the FBI change the statement from a “possible” hack to fit with the DNC narrative already in the media.
How is it possible that you didn’t investigate the DNC hack narrative given the commonalities with the Alfa and Steele dossiers, and the fact that the narrative was orchestrated by the same person who had such control over the FBI that he edited its public statements about a case to which he was a party?
13. On Oct. 7, 2016, about a month before the presidential election, the Department of Homeland Security and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence issued a joint statement claiming, for the first time, that the “U.S. Intelligence Community is confident that the Russian Government directed the recent compromises of e-mails” from the Democratic Party. Jeh Johnson, then DHS secretary, later testified that Obama “approved the statement” and “wanted us to make [it].”
Your team released Sussmann-FBI emails that confirm this Obama-approved claim was released one week before CrowdStrike denied the FBI’s request for an “onsite” inspection. This timing means that when the intelligence community made its first public attribution of Russian hacking, it not only had failed to inspect the computer servers, but had not even received CrowdStrike’s copies of them.
To date, no evidence supports the conclusion that the Russians hacked the DNC servers. Where are the FBI interviews explaining this?
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