FBI Launched Russiagate With No Evidence, Knowing Clinton Intention Was to Vilify Trump & Distract Public from Her “Server Scandal”

As I have noted previously, the Russiagate saga, which I and others have described as a hoax, is intimately tied to a vicious element of Russphobia that is integral to mainstream US and western culture. Russophobia created a receptive popular audience for mis/disinformation, one readily manipulable by propagandists.

In pouring oil on existing Russophobia, Russiagate has been integral to an accelerating crisis of western relations to Russia, one that has taken the world close to nuclear annihilation in 2023. It rests, fundamentally, on a false narrative about Russia that grew out of western indigation from 2014 that Russia did not simply roll over when the US and the collective west instigated and supported a coup d’etat against a democratically elected and supposedly (the judgment was much too simplistic) “pro-Russian” government in Ukraine – one that would have had to stand for reelection anyway, and might quite plausibly have lost that election, within months of the coup d’etat.

The two main elements of the Russiagate hoax were the claims, first, that Trump was in some manner or other in hock to Russia and, second, that Russia had interfered with the US 2016 presidential election in ways that favored candidate Donald Trump. Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s inquiry, published in 2019, found no evidence of coordination between Trump or the Trump campaign and Russia. He did supply what he claimed was evidence of Russian interference in the election. Much of this evidence has been debunked, before, during and after publication of the Mueller report. My own critical analysis was published before the Mueller report. The more recent Hamilton 68 revelations by Matt Taiibi (I mention the organization in my book) merely confirm the total inadequacy of a key contributory disinformation feed to the narrative of Russian election interference.

Mueller’s indictments against Russian agents were either not translated into convictions or they were successfully challenged. Mueller did not look at important counter-evidence, for example evidence showing that DNC and DCCC servers were never proven to have been hacked by Russian intelligence. The FBI did not even look at the machines, but strangely relied on the pronouncements of a small cyber security company (which ultimately informed a senate intelligence committee that it did not have actual proof of a Russian hack) hired by the DNC’s attorneys – the very same who commissioned what turned out to be disastrously misguided opposition research on behalf of Hillary Clinton from former MI6 agent Christopher Steele. Mueller did not consider available evidence that DNC files were more likely leaked by an insider.

Other considerations of Russian attempts to influence the 2016 election were extremely underwhelming relating to (a) social media postings, including trolls and bots, whose actual impacts would have been statistically miniscule in the broader context of overall social media traffic volumes and the even greater weight exerted by pro-Trump voices in US mainstream media, including most notably, Fox News; (b) the total absence of interest by Russiagate pushers into efforts made by other countries, and other entities (including corporate), domestic or foreign, transparent or covert, to influence these elections – without knowledge of which it is totally impossible for anyone to reach any kind of meaningful assessment as to the importance of any Russian contributions; and (c) the total absence of interest by Russiagate pushers into the long, well established and documented history of US manipulation of the elections of countries all around the world, sometimes extending to the instigation of violent protests, regime-change, coup d’etats, invasions and occupations.

Elsewhere, and soon to be published, I have undertaken further analysis of the Russiagate hoax (see image below) in Russiagate Revisited (co-edited with Stephen Marmura).

For now, I want to reference how the saga of the Russiagate hoax is advanced by the final report of Special Counsel John H. Durham’s investigation published four days ago (May 12): Durham Report.

US mainstream media framings of the Durham Report should be treated with great caution, given the extraordinary over-investment by these media, and their British poodles, in Russiagate falsehoods for the past seven years, to the extent, as I have noted, that their lies feed into a hysteria that has already taken up to 500,000 lives in Ukraine and could quite likely end the human species.

The Russiagate episode constitutes, in my humble view, one of the vilest episodes in the history of mainstream media performance in the so-called “democracies” of the western world. I place the word “democracies” in quotation marks because no press system in any country that lends itself almost in its entirety and to a large extent knowingly to a pack of lies, one that has grave implications for the entire political prcess, and over many years, can be an authentic instrument of anything resembling democracy. In such a context the possibility of holding power to account has evaporated, sequestrated, never to return for as long as the system is allowed to survive. In this respect, the Russiagate scandal even surpasses the monstrosity of its “WMD” close competitor that provided the pretext for the invasion and occupation of Iraq in 2003.

The following is based on the report’s executive summary. The primary question that Durham asks is this: did the FBI have sufficient cause, satisfactory reason, to launch, in the summer of 2016 the “Crossfire Hurricane” inquiry into links between the Trump Campaign and the Russian governmenty. The resounding answer to this question, in my view, must be “No!”

Merely on the basis of the receipt by the FBI of information from Australia (further details are to be found in the Durham report, in my own 2019 book and in the forthcoming 2023 collected co-edited with Stephen Marmura, shown below) concerning comments reportedly made by George Papadopoulos, an unpaid foreign policy adviser to the Trump campaign. Followers of the narrative will know that these likely pertained to what are now highly dubious claims concerning access through Russian channels to negative information about Hillary Clinton.

The executive summary notes that “neither U.S. law enforcement nor the intelligence community appears to have possessed any actual evidence in their holdings at the commencement of Crossfire Hurricane” (my italics). Yet Deputy Director Andrew McCable told Assistant Director for Counterintelligence Peter Strzok (whom Durham notes had, at minimum, pronounced hostile feelings towards Trump to immediately open Crossfire Hurricane. My interpretation is that the FBI used the alleged information coming from Papadopoulos as confirming suspicions that they had been entertaining for some months prior but which were even less admissible.

The summary continues:

“Further, the FBI did so without (i) any significant review ofits own intelligence databases , (ii) collection and examination of any relevant intelligence from other U.S. intelligence entities , (iii) interviews of witnesses essential to understand the raw information it had received or (iv) using any of the standard analytical tools typically employed by the FBI inevaluating raw intelligence . Had it done so, again as set out inSections IV.A.3.b and c, the FBI would have learned that their own experienced Russia analysts had no information about Trump being involved with Russian leadership officials , nor were others in sensitive positions at the CIA, the NSA, and the Department of State aware of such evidence concerning the subject . In addition, FBIrecords prepared by Strzok in February and March 2017 show that at the time ofthe opening of Crossfire Hurricane , the FBI had no information in its holdings indicating that at any time during the campaign anyone in the Trump campaign had been in contact with any Russian intelligence official.

The speed and manner in which the FBI opened and investigated CrossfireHurricane during the presidential election season based on raw, unanalyzed, and uncorroborated intelligence also reflected a notice abled eparture from how itapproached prior matters involving possible attempted foreign election interferenc eplans aimed at the Clinton campaign…These examples are also markedly different from the FBI’s actions with respect to other highly significant intelligence it received from a trusted foreign source pointing to a Clinton campaign plan to vilify Trump by tying him to Vladimir Putin so as to divert attention from her own concerns relating to her use of a private email server…This lack of action was despite the fact that the significance of the Clinton plan intelligence was such as to have prompted the Director of the CIA to brief the President , Vice President, Attorney General, Director ofthe FBI, and other senior government officials about its content within days of its receipt. It was also of enough importance for the CIA to send a formal written referral memorandum to Director Comey and the Deputy Assistant Director ofthe FBI’s Counterintelligence Division, Peter Strzok , for their consideration and action. The investigative referral provided examples of information the Crossfire Hurricane fusion cell had gleaned to date”

Durham dispenses with the entire Steele nonsense, thus:

“Our investigation determined that the CrossfireHurricane investigators did not and could not corroborate any of the substantive allegationscontained in the Steele reporting. Nor was Steele able to produce corroboration for any of the reported allegations, even after being offered $ 1 million or more by the FBI for such corroboration Further, when interviewed by the FBI in January 2017, Danchenko also was unable to corroborate any of the substantive allegations in the Reports. Rather, Danchenko characterized the information he provided to Steele as rumor and speculation and the productof casual conversation.”

As is well known and as Durham confirms, the unvetted Steele reports were used illicitly by the FBI to obtain FISA approval for further FBI surveillance of members of the Trump campaign. Note that from January 2017 through October 2020, the FBI conducted multiple interviews of Danchenko (Steele’s major sub-source).

In other words, from at least the beginning of 2017 the FBI would have been aware of serious problems concerning the Steele report, yet did nothing in this time to relieve the pressure on the President himself of the false accusations that had been levelled against him, nor to help the US public, and world opinion, understand the enormity of the disinformation campaign that had been foisted upon them with the eager abandon of irresponsible mainstream media.

“During these interviews , Danchenko was unable to provide any corroborating evidence to support the Steele allegations, and further, described his interactions with his sub-sources as rumor and speculation ” and conversations of a casual nature. Significant parts of what Danchenko told the FBI were inconsistent with what Steele told the FBI during his prior interviews in October 2016 and September 2017….

After realizing that Danchenko did not live in Russia but in Washington (!) , the FBI from March 2017, “engaged Danchenko as a CHS and began making regular financial payments to him for information none ofwhich corroborated Steele’s reporting.” Note that “Danchenko had been the subject of an FBI counterintelligence investigation from 2009 to 2011.”

In other words from as early as January 2017, the FBI knew what it was dealing with, that there were potential associations with Russian intelligence. It never disclosed these problems about Danchenko in its applications to the FISA court and never even troubled to wonder whether Danchenko’s information might actually be Russian misinformation. Further, the FBI never interviewed what they must have known to be a key source for Danchenko namely, DNC insider Charles Dolan.

Durham concludes the Executive Summary as follows (extracts):

We conclude that the Department and the FBI failed to uphold their important mission of strict fidelity to the law in connection with certain events and activities described in this report. As noted, former FBI attorney Kevin Clinesmith committed a criminal offense by fabricating language in an emailthat was material to the FBI obtaining a FISA surveillance order. In other instances, FBI personnel working on that same FISA application displayed, at best, a cavalier attitude towards accuracy and completeness. FBI personnel also repeatedly disregarded important requirements whenthey continued to seek renewals of that FISA surveillance while acknowledging both then and in hindsight that they did not genuinely believe there was probable cause to believe that the target was knowingly engaged in clandestine intelligence activities on behalf of a foreign power, or knowingly helping another person in such activities.

And certain personnel disregarded significant exculpatory information that should have prompted investigative restraint and re-examination.Our investigation also revealed that senior FBI personnel displayed a serious lack of analytical rigor towards the information that they received , especially information received from politically affiliated persons and entities. This information in part triggered and sustained Crossfire Hurricane and contributed to the subsequent need for Special Counsel Mueller’s investigation . Inparticular , there was significant reliance on investigative leads provided or funded (directly or indirectly ) by Trump’s political opponents . The Department did not adequately examine or question these materials and the motivations of those providing them, even when at about the same time the Director of the FBI and others learned ofsignificant and potentially contrary intelligence. In light of the foregoing, there is a continuing need for the FBI andthe Department to recognize that lack of analytical rigor, apparent confirmation bias, and an over-willingnessto rely on information from individuals connected to political opponents caused investigatorsto fail to adequately conside ralternative hypotheses and to act without appropriate objectivityor restraint in pursuing allegations of collusion or conspiracy betweena U.S.political campaign and a foreignpower.”