It is truly astonishing when a certified traitor to this country calls for someone else to be executed for treason. But that’s where we find ourselves today. Hillary Clinton should be put to death, at least, according to the right’s orange carbuncle and aforementioned traitor, Donald Trump. Firstly, Trump’s overblown ego notwithstanding, treason is committed against one’s country – and not a tangerine tyrant with a seriously exaggerated sense of self and autocratic inclinations. Translation? Donald Trump is not America. Further translation? Trump is anti-American.
Secondly, as is always the case, Trump and his state run propaganda and disinformation media gave credence to Trump’s lie by immediately offering misleading presentations of the facts and outright disinformation – which is after all, what their business model mandates. The hosts of “Morning Joe” called some their coverage “willfully stupid” and “deliberately lying.”
Michael Sussman is a cybersecurity lawyer Durham has charged with allegedly lying to the FBI. Sussman is the chap who told the FBI that researchers had uncovered traffic between a Trump server and a bank in Russia. On Friday, Special Counsel John Durham filed a pretrial motion on possible conflicts of interest by the lawyer representing Sussman. But Durham also added some sentences that led to the current pearl clutching and pants wetting among the right wing media and their audience, that this filing somehow proved Trump was spied on.
They began claiming that Durham’s filing demonstrated that lawyers for Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign paid a technology company to ‘infiltrate‘ servers belonging to Trump Tower, and later the White House, in order to establish a case to bring to government agencies linking Trump to Russia. And the reason I italicized the word ‘infiltrate,’ is because nowhere in Durham’s filing does that word appear. Fox et al just used that word to make the filing look more spy-ish. The word Durham used was “exploited,” which may be true, but still isn’t necessarily a crime.
Nor does this filing accuse the Clinton campaign of ordering Sussman – or anyone else – of passing the tech company’s analysis of DNS data to the FBI or CIA. The filing also doesn’t accuse the Clinton campaign of paying for this information. Nor does it accuse anyone of having illegally accessed any server, government or otherwise. Nor does it provide any evidence that the data provided included anything other than information collected before Trump took office. As Durham pointed out later in the filing, these DNS lookups started as early as 2014, when Barack Obama was in office, and continued until early 2017.
Lawyers for one of the researchers who provided this information to Sussman, said: “The cybersecurity researchers were investigating malware in the White House, not spying on the Trump campaign, and to our knowledge all of the data they used was nonprivate DNS data from before Trump took office.” DNS traffic does not reveal actual content – only contact between servers.
A spokesperson for researcher Rodney Joffe (also known as Tech Executive-1 in the filing) told NBC News that Joffe had legal access to the DNS data under a contract that allowed Neustar to comb through the data, including from the White House, to look for security threats. Bottom line? Thus far, the only crime Durham has accused anyone of committing is lying to the FBI.
Even Washington Examiner reporter and republican Byron York stated there wasn’t much “there” there. York said: “I don’t read a lot into this. But I would say as far as Durham is concerned and a lot of Republicans and especially the strongest Trump supporters, a lot of them have been disappointed in Durham. Frankly, because I think they have expectations that are too high. Some Trump supporters are really not going to be happy unless they saw James Comey or Hillary Clinton led out of a door in handcuffs.” York went on to say that this is never going to happen – nor will Durham find something suddenly that results in President Biden being kicked out of office and Trump reinstated.
One comment I’ve heard repeated a great deal in response to this story is that it’s a continuation of the “Trump/Russia hoax.” Really? Perhaps it would be prudent to reiterate these facts. An analysis by the NY Times reported that Trump and 18 of his associates had at least 140 contacts with Russian nationals and WikiLeaks or their intermediaries during the 2016 campaign and presidential transition. Robert Mueller’s final report revealed at least 30 more contacts beyond those previously known.
Also, in August of 2020, a bipartisan senate panel (a senate controlled by republicans, by the way, chaired by Marco Rubio) stated in their 1,000 page report that the Trump campaign’s interactions with Russian intelligence services during the 2016 presidential election posed a “grave counterintelligence threat.” This report was the culmination of a 3-year bipartisan probe that produced what the bipartisan committee called “the most comprehensive description to date of Russia’s activities and the threat they posed.” (Did I mention this investigation was bipartisan?) Both this report and Mueller’s stated that the Trump campaign was aware of Russia’s interference and were happy to let them do it.
The difference between the Mueller and Durham investigations? Durham is a partisan who was put in place by Trump to fish until he found something Trump could twist to exonerate himself. Robert Mueller was a non-partisan, albeit still a republican, who found substantial evidence of Russian interference sufficient to indict numerous people. And Mueller himself said: “If we had confidence that the president did not commit a crime, we would have said so.” Therefore, to call the entire Russia investigation a hoax is as stupid as it is dishonest.