The Durham investigation, Eli Lake’s take

Eli Lake has covered national security affairs during most of the time that Power Line has been around. I’ve always found his reports to be worth reading. To cite just one example, his reporting helped defeat the nomination of Chas Freeman, the anti-Israel former ambassador to Saudi Arabia, to be the chairman of the National Intelligence Council during the Obama administration.

The Washington Post has published Lake’s take on the indictment of Igor Danchenko by John Durham and on the Durham investigation generally. I think readers will find it of interest.

Lake contrasts Durham’s work with that of Michael Horowitz, the Justice Department’s inspector general. Given his position, Horowitz focused on the FBI. He found that the FBI cut corners and gamed the surveillance court.

As Lake sees it, Durham’s findings show that the Clinton campaign gamed the FBI, or at least tried to:

[Durham’s] last two indictments suggest that the FBI was not a villain but a victim, conned by Democratic operatives to pursue bogus investigations into the Trump campaign.

In September, Durham indicted Michael Sussman, a lawyer who represented the Clinton campaign in 2016. That indictment alleges that Sussman failed to disclose to the FBI that he was representing the Clinton campaign when he presented evidence alleging that servers for the Trump campaign had unusual communications with servers from the Russian Alfa Bank. . . .

Durham’s lengthy indictment. . .says that if Sussman had acknowledged he was working for Clinton’s campaign, the bureau would have treated his claims with more skepticism. The FBI eventually concluded there was nothing to the. . .story [Sussman was peddling].

The Danchenko indictment is along the same lines:

Like Sussman, Danchenko is also charged with hiding his relationship to a prominent Democrat in interviews with the FBI about the dossier. . . .

Durham’s indictment says Danchenko’s lies “deprived FBI agents and analysts of probative information” “that would have, among other things, assisted them in evaluating the credibility, reliability, and veracity” of the dossier. Again, Durham portrays the FBI as the victims of the Clinton campaign’s efforts.

If Danchenko lied to the FBI as the indictment asserts, it wasn’t merely a “process crime.” The alleged lying was in furtherance of a conspiracy by the Clinton campaign to enlist the FBI in order to discredit Donald Trump.

Importantly, however, Lake disputes any suggestion that the Clinton campaign’s central role exonerates the FBI. It does not.

Lake points out that FBI agents were able to discern that Steele’s information was worthless without the benefit of knowing Danchenko’s relationship to the Clintonistas. They reached this conclusion over the course of four interviews with Danchenko in 2017.

Nonetheless, the FBI pressed ahead and, as Horowitz found, gamed the surveillance court. Thus, Lake concludes that the “the real victim of these Democratic Party deceptions was not the FBI, but the American public.” And, I would add, the American president, Donald Trump.

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