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Patrick Lawrence: John Durham & Burying History
Witness the obliteration of a highly significant passage in U.S. history. To be deprived in this way of the past — of the facts of our time — is a kind of condemnation.
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May 15 saw the release of the much-awaited Durham report, which detailed how the FBI initiated what was essentially a phony and heavily politicized investigation into Donald Trump’s Russia ties based on “raw, unanalyzed, and uncorroborated intelligence.”
John Durham was appointed Special Counsel by Attorney General William Barr in May 2019 to investigate the FBI’s Operation Crossfire Hurricane which, from July 31, 2016, to May 17, 2017, looked into coordination between the Trump campaign and Russians during the election.
Drawing on 480 interviews and review of one million documents, the Durham report makes clear that there was never any evidence that anyone in the Trump campaign had been in contact with any Russian intelligence officials during the 2016 election campaign.
Read the Durham report here.
These latter findings dovetailed with the 2019 Mueller Report, which concluded that there was no evidence of any collusion between the Russian government and members of the Trump administration to try to influence the 2016 election.
For years Democratic Party officials and liberal media outlets like CNN and MSNBC claimed that Trump had been blackmailed by the Russians who allegedly received a video showing that Trump had slept with Russian prostitutes at a Moscow hotel and watched them urinate.
The existence of these alleged tapes were detailed in the infamous “Steele dossier,” named after a former British MI6 spy, Christopher Steele, who was hired by Fusion GPS, a private eye firm employed by Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign to conduct oppositional research on Trump and his associates.
The Durham report emphasized that the FBI could not corroborate any of the information presented in the Steele dossier.
Steele’s main source, Igor Danchenko, a Russian national living in the U.S. and former Brookings Institution fellow, said that he could not corroborate any of the information that he gave Steele, which he defined as “rumor and speculation.”
The FBI wanted to pay Danchenko $300,000—even after the Bureau found his evidence not credible—in an apparent bid to buy his silence.
Danchenko’s source of information for the Steele dossier was Charles Dolan, a Virginia-based aide to Hillary Clinton who admitted to fabricating information presented in the Steele dossier, and said that his information derived from a Russian public relations executive, Olga Galkina, who was promised a job in the State Department if Hillary Clinton won the presidency in 2016.
Though aware of Dolan’s connection to Danchenko, the FBI inexplicably failed to interview him so they could try to corroborate what he was saying. The FBI also did not take basic steps, such as securing telephone call recordings for Danchenko or another dubious Steele dossier source, Belarusian businessman Sergei Millian, while ignoring red flags about their credibility.
The Crossfire investigation was first initiated after FBI headquarters in Australia received unverified information about comments allegedly made by George Papadopoulos, a Trump campaign foreign policy adviser, in a tavern.
Belief in the existence of a secret communications channel between the Trump organization and the Russian-based Alfa Bank derived from the false claims of employees of Hillary Clinton’s campaign who were helping their boss to divert attention from the growing scandal over Clinton’s use of a private email server for official business as Secretary of State.
These same Clinton operatives planted salacious stories in media outlets like The New York Times and CNN, which displayed the same lack of critical rigor as the FBI.
The Durham report includes leaked text messages between Peter Strzok, Section Chief and Deputy Assistant in the FBI’s counter-intelligence division, and his lover, FBI lawyer Lisa Page, in which Strzok called Trump a “douche,” “utter idiot” and “disaster,” and said that Hillary “should win [the 2016 election] 100,000,000-0.”
Durham ultimately concluded that there was no political motivation for the FBI’s “mistakes” although these quotes indicate there was along with a desire to reignite the climate of the Cold War as a means of sustaining support for record military budgets that were presented to the public as being necessary to counter the big, bad Russians.
Promoters of Russia Gate, like MSNBC host Rachel Maddow, predictably underplayed the breadth of Durham’s findings after the report’s release, saying it posessed nothing “we already didn’t know”—an admission that the report was factually accurate. Peter Strzok appeared on MSNBC to claim the report “didn’t come up with anything,” calling it a “predictable, sad ending to an investigation that never should have taken place.”
But the report is actually significant in delivering the nail in the coffin to the Russia Gate narrative that so many people bought into for so long.
The Durham report nevertheless is very limited in its focus on the FBI—and failure to investigate the role that the CIA and White House played in Russia Gate.
The CIA Director at the time, John Brennan, is known as the “godfather of Russia Gate.” Soon after the start of the FBI’s Operation Crossfire Hurricane, Brennan briefed Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) on alleged Russian election interference.
Reid then wrote to then-FBI Director James Comey, warning him not to ignore “the evidence of a direct connection between the Russian government and Donald Trump’s presidential campaign.” Comey apparently responded by initiating Crossfire Hurricane.
Brennan subsequently oversaw the drafting of an Intelligence Community Assessment that was released in January 2017, which falsely suggested illicit ties between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin, while also revealing that such contacts were the subject of a federal investigation.
The release of the assessment cast a pall of suspicion over Trump just days before he took office, setting the tone for the unfounded allegations of conspiracy and treason that engulfed his presidency—which Brennan continued to advance as an MSNBC news commentator.
Brennan was especially close to President Barack Obama, who with Hillary Clinton played a central role in manufacturing the Russia Gate scandal.
Brennan had performed a vital service when he helped destroy documents that exposed deceits in the story told by Barack Obama about his family background prior to the 2008 election. Obama has strong family ties to the CIA, worked for a CIA front company after college; wrote a memoir that has all the trademarks of a CIA disinformation/psywar pamphlet; and basically gave the CIA everything that it wanted when he was President.
Handwritten notes by Peter Strzok about a January 5, 2017, meeting show Obama, with then-Vice President Joe Biden, encouraging the FBI and Justice Department’s investigation of Michael Flynn, Trump’s first National Security Adviser, for allegedly lying to the FBI about a conversation he had with the Russian ambassador, even as they were told that Flynn’s actions “appear legit.”
On learning that the FBI was set to close its investigation into Flynn after finding no evidence of wrongdoing, Obama and Biden suggested finding ways to keep it open, with Biden bringing up the dead-letter Logan Act.
The notes additionally have Obama ordering that the continued investigation be kept secret from incoming President Trump and his people.
While the latter shenanigans were going on, Obama’s administration was escalating U.S. military support to Ukraine while it was engaged in a dirty war in the east of that country that resulted in the deaths of more than ten thousand civilians.
After promoting a policy reset toward Russia during his first term, Obama reignited the Cold War by levying sanctions on Russia under fraudulent pretexts and triggering a right-wing anti-Russian coup in Ukraine.
In April 2015, the Democratic National Committee hired a Ukrainian-American activist, Alexandra Chalupa, as a $5,000-a-month consultant.
Chalupa was convinced that Trump’s Achilles heel was Paul Manafort, a lobbyist who had done work for the party led by Viktor Yanukovych, Ukraine’s pro-Russian president from 2010 to 2014.
Chalupa’s effort to attack Trump by exposing Manafort’s alleged Russian ties was the seed of the collusion hoax.
Journalist Paul Sperry reported that Chalupa visited the White House at least 27 times during 2015 and 2016.
Among the government officials she worked closely with was Eric Ciaramella, the CIA detailee to the White House who would later be the “whistleblower” regarding Trump’s 2019 call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky that led to his first impeachment (for allegedly threatening to withhold military aid to Zelensky if he did not investigate Hunter Biden’s corruption in Ukraine).
The $64,000 question is why Durham was only tasked with investigating the FBI and not the CIA, which played a central role in Russia Gate.
The answer is not difficult to discern: The CIA is very good at public relations and able to protect its good name by penetrating the highest reaches of the U.S. government—as it routinely does foreign governments.
Durham was considered a trusted functionary because he had helped protect the Agency when he failed to issue any indictments after heading an investigation into the destruction of CIA videotapes of detainee interrogations in 2008, and legality of CIA enhanced interrogation techniques in 2009.
The man who commissioned Durham’s report, former Attorney General William Barr, is a company man who was officially employed by the CIA from 1971 to 1977. Barr’s father Donald was in the CIA before becoming headmaster of the prestigious Dalton School in Manhattan, where Jeffrey Epstein taught.
According to CIA whistleblower Terry Reed, as a right-hand man to CIA Director William Casey in the 1980s, Barr helped oversee illegal arms and drug-smuggling operations to the Nicaraguan Contras out of Mena, Arkansas, in coordination with then-Arkansas Governor Bill Clinton—another company man.
Company men are always loyal to the CIA and use their powers to protect the Agency. The Durham report is an example of this as it placed blame for Russia Gate on the FBI rather than the CIA, when both agencies are culpable for the fraud that was perpetrated on the American people.