One week ago today, Special Counsel John Durham filed a motion in the government’s criminal case against former Hillary Clinton campaign attorney Michael Sussmann. That motion, in requesting the court obtain Sussmann’s waiver of any conflicts of interest held by his lawyers on the record, provided in excruciating detail the factual basis for the purported conflicts.
In doing so, it revealed that “enemies of Donald Trump surveilled the internet traffic at Trump Tower, at his New York City apartment building, and later at the executive office of the president of the United States, then fed disinformation about that traffic to intelligence agencies hoping to frame Trump as a Russia-connected stooge.”
While earlier filings by Durham had revealed equally explosive facts, this time the special counsel’s motion generated enough attention that #Durham began to trend on Twitter. Not since the special counsel’s office indicted Sussmann in September 2021 for lying to the FBI’s former general counsel, James Baker, has the Durham investigation forced itself into the legacy press’ purview.
Rather than report on the latest developments, the corrupt media spun Friday’s filing as a big nothingburger, while parading several false narratives—just as it did when news of the indictment of the Clinton campaign’s lawyer broke.
Charlie Savage at the New York Times led the way in a Monday article headlined, “Court Filing Started a Furor in Right-Wing Outlets, but Their Narrative Is Off Track.” Amazingly, several of Savage’s talking points coincided with arguments presented by Sussmann’s attorneys in a document filed with the court that same day.
By Tuesday, Vanity Fair had joined in, quoting Savage’s “analysis.” That evening, Jimmy Kimmel turned the talking points into one-liners. Wednesday saw Brian Stelter at CNN further cribbing from the Savage’s initial take at the Times.
While the leftist press continues to fall in line to advance the unofficial defense of the Clinton campaign’s former attorney, the talking points the Durham deniers are pushing remain nothing but gibberish. Here they are and why they are wrong.
1. It’s Just Those Crazy Right-Wingers
In his opening salvo in the Sussmann counter-offensive, Savage began his New York Times column by noting that Durham’s Friday night filing “set off a furor among right-wing outlets about purported spying on former President Donald J. Trump.”
Framing the “furor” as right-wing proves a ready go-to for a corrupt media seeking to discount the substance of the reporting. Stelter likewise hit this talking point repeatedly over at CNN, in his article “Right-wing media said it was exposing a scandal. What it really revealed is how bad information spreads in MAGA world.”
Hillary Clinton likewise pushed the right-wingers angle, tweeting that “Trump & Fox are desperately spinning up a fake scandal to distract from his real ones.”
Of course, while casting coverage of Special Counsel Durham’s investigation as the cries of cray-cray conservatives might resonate with their readers, as a substantive counter to the most recent revelations in the Sussmann case it falls flat.
2. Pay No Attention to the Facts Behind the Filing
The second narrative pushed by Savage and then quickly parroted by his ilk is that the facts behind Durham’s most recent court filing are too dense for readers to bother using their brainpower to decipher. Yes, I am serious.
The facts “also tend to involve dense and obscure issues, so dissecting them requires asking readers to expend significant mental energy and time—raising the question of whether news outlets should even cover such claims,” Savage wrote in his Monday pro bono P.R. piece for Sussmann.
Amazingly, CNN quoted this passage in its coverage of the issue, demonstrating the utter lack of regard in which the leftist press holds its readers.
3. There Was No ‘Infiltration,’ So There Is No Story
A third counter pushed in response to Durham’s Friday court filing focused on Fox News’ coverage and its opener that read, “Lawyers for the Clinton campaign paid a technology company to ‘infiltrate’ servers belonging to Trump Tower, and later the White House, in order to establish an ‘inference’ and ‘narrative’ to bring to government agencies linking Donald Trump to Russia, a filing from Special Counsel John Durham found.”
Durham never said “infiltrate,” however, came the rejoinder. At least on this point, the press members suffering from “media vapors” have a point: Durham did not say “infiltrate.” Rather, Kash Patel, a former chief investigator for Devin Nunes on the House Intelligence Committee, used that word in an interview with Fox News, as the article later explained.
Durham said the data Sussmann provided to the CIA came from data tech executive Rodney Joffe obtained when he “exploited” his access to sensitive data from the Executive Office of the President (EOP).
It is likewise true that the special counsel’s Friday filing did not claim that the “Clinton campaign paid to ‘infiltrate’ Trump Tower, White House servers to link Trump to Russia,” as Fox News headlined its coverage of the developments in the Sussmann case. Rather, it appears that Joffe voluntarily exploited his access to the data and received no compensation from Clinton for his forays into the EOP and other databases.
These criticisms by the Times, CNN, and others might hold more weight if the same outlets hadn’t pushed the Russia collusion hoax for five years. But, in any event, correcting those two points does nothing to counter the serious allegations revealed in Durham’s latest filing revealed.
In fact, he exposed so many significant details that it required two separate articles to adequately cover the developments. Notwithstanding the concerted pushback against the Fox News article, The Federalist’s in-depth coverage remains unblemished.
4. But Trump Wasn’t Even President Yet
The next narrative launched to minimize the significance of the revelations contained in Durham’s motion focused on the data Sussmann presented to the CIA purporting to show “that Russian-made smartphones, called YotaPhones, had been connecting to networks at Trump Tower and the White House, among other places.”
The data relating to the White House “came from Barack Obama’s presidency,” the Times reported, quoting two lawyers representing one of the researchers who aided Joffe. Rather, “to our knowledge,” the lawyers claimed, “all of the data they used was nonprivate DNS data from before Trump took office.”
This counter is nothing but lawyerly wordsmithing, however, and anyone who read the actual court filing—that dense document Savage believed beyond the grey matter of his readers—would know that fact. As the motion explained, in providing the DNS data to the CIA, Sussmann told the government agents “these lookups demonstrated that Trump and/or his associates were using supposedly rare, Russian-made wireless phones in the vicinity of the White House and other locations.”
As a matter of pure logic, the data Sussmann presented to the CIA related to the White House must have somehow related to Trump or it would not “demonstrate” that “Trump and/or his associates were using” the Russian cell phones “in the vicinity of the White House.” Most likely, then, the data presented concerned the transition period. Further, there is nothing to say that after Trump took office Joffe stopped “exploiting” the data.
5. It’s Old News
The fifth response, which Savage again initiated, ran that the “news” was “old news.”
“But the entire narrative appeared to be mostly wrong or old news,” Savage wrote early in his Times coverage. He reiterated that point later: “for one, much of this was not new: The New York Times had reported in October what Mr. Sussmann had told the C.I.A. about data suggesting that Russian-made smartphones, called YotaPhones, had been connecting to networks at Trump Tower and the White House, among other places.”
Surprise, surprise: It was Savage himself who made passing reference to the YotaPhones in his October 1, 2021, Times article that focused primarily on the Alfa Bank aspect of the indictment. In retrospect, we should have foreseen Durham’s latest revelations because they were handed to the Sussmann-friendly reporters who penned the October article, in what is now an obvious attempt to get ahead of the bad news Sussmann’s legal team knew was coming.
What the Times did not report on October 1, 2021, however, was that Joffe’s internet company “had come to access and maintain dedicated servers for the [Executive Office of the Presidency] as part of a sensitive arrangement whereby it provided DNS resolution services to the EOP.”
Nor did the Times report, as Durham alleged, that Joffe and his associates, “exploited this arrangement by mining the EOP’s DNS traffic and other data for the purpose of gathering derogatory information about Donald Trump.” Also missing from the October 2021 coverage was the fact that DNS data compiled, but withheld, from the CIA showed the DNS lookups involving the EOP and the Russian cellphone provider “began at least as early as 2014 i.e., during the Obama administration and years before Trump took office.”
In other words, this was new news, and those claiming otherwise serve, not as journalists, but as pushers of propaganda.