Real Clear Investigations has a story today about efforts by various people on the Clinton payroll (and those who expected to be on the payroll if she won the 2016 election) to spread a bogus story about the Trump campaign’s connection to Alfa Bank.
Some of this you may have already heard about in connection with John Durham’s indictment of Michael Sussmann. Sussmann had a meeting with the FBI’s top lawyer, James Baker, prior to the 2016 election in which he tried to convince Baker and the FBI to investigate the Alfa Bank story. Sussmann allegedly claimed he was coming forward as a concerned citizen when in fact he later billed the Clinton campaign for the meeting with Baker.
But the RCI report today fleshes out the effort to sell the Alfa Bank story. The direct approach to the FBI wasn’t the only effort Clinton cronies made to sell this story. In fact, they flooded the zone.
“The Clinton machine flooded the FBI with pressure from a number of angles until investigations of Trump were opened and reopened,” said one of the briefed sources who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss a sensitive law enforcement matter. “The deception was wide-ranging.”…
After Sussmann’s meeting with the FBI in September 2016, the Clinton campaign approached the State Department the following month with the same lead, this time using paid Clinton campaign subcontractor Christopher Steele to feed the rumors. A former British intelligence officer, Steele was offered as a reliable source to help corroborate the rumors. On Oct. 11, 2016, Steele gave his contact at Foggy Bottom documents alleging that a supposed hidden server at Trump Tower was pinging Moscow.
Two days later, a State official who previously worked under former secretary Clinton funneled the information to the FBI’s then-top Eurasia/Russia counterintelligence official, Stephen Laycock, according to recently declassified notes and testimony. Laycock, in turn, forwarded the information to Peter Strzok, the FBI agent who led the investigation of Trump and his campaign and had just weeks earlier texted a bureau lawyer, “We’ll stop [Trump from being elected].”
But the most revealing part of this is that Clinton’s cronies kept it up even after Hillary had lost the election. In fact, they kept going even after Trump was inaugurated.
In mid-November 2016, it enlisted top Justice Department official Bruce Ohr – whose wife, Nellie, worked for Fusion GPS – to add credibility to the Alfa rumors. That month, Ohr advised the FBI that Steele had told him that the Alfa Bank server was a link to the Trump campaign…
In December 2016, Sussmann called then-CIA Director John Brennan’s general counsel – Caroline Krass – to set up a meeting to brief her about the same Alfa Bank rumors. Krass expressed interest in the tip. Then in early February 2017, officials from her office formally sat down with Sussmann for more than an hour to discuss the Trump-Russian bank rumors. Sussmann provided them updated versions of the materials he had handed off to the FBI…
The special counsel alleges that Sussmann, as he did when meeting with an FBI official, had also failed to inform contacts at Langley that he was representing a client – in the latter case specifically Joffe – tied to the Clinton campaign operation and who had been promised a high-level job in a Clinton administration.
The Clinton campaign had obvious reasons for pushing the collusion story prior to the election. They were hoping word of an FBI investigation would leak based on clues they were feeding to friendly media and that would be the last straw for Trump. It’s sleazy but understandable. Hillary wanted to win the election.
But once the election is over, why are Clinton’s people still pushing this to the CIA? And why is the CIA even agreeing to take a meeting about a domestic political issue? By that point the FBI had already looked into the Alfa Bank story and decided it was nothing, but the Clinton cronies somehow got the FBI to revive the investigation after the inauguration.
In early February 2017, Clinton’s foreign policy adviser Sullivan huddled with Fusion GPS’s Simpson and Daniel Jones, an FBI analyst-turned-Democrat-operative, to reboot the same smear campaign against Trump.
The FBI did reopen the investigation at Jones’ urging and this time actually went to the offices of the company where the server in question (the one which had supposedly sent secret messages to Alfa Bank) was located. And once again they found nothing. The server in question had been set up years earlier to deliver spam emails.
The fact that Clinton cronies were apparently pushing this story, a story they knew was nonsense, after she lost the 2016 election means it wasn’t part of a campaign strategy anymore. At a certain point, it looks more like an act of revenge, an effort to hobble the incoming president. And while the Alfa Bank part of that effort didn’t really go anywhere it was just one part of a larger fog about Russian collusion that led to two years of constant claims from Democrats and the media (but I repeat myself) that Trump was compromised.