Sunday, October 24, 2021

Parallel, coordinated tracks

The definitive article to date on the parallel tracks of Sussmann, who worked with CrowdStrike on the allegations of a Russian hack of the DNC, and Elias, who worked on generating the Steele allegations that Putin  had kompromat on Trump:  "Coming Into Focus: Hillary's Secretive, Russiagate-Flogging Pair of Super-Lawyers" (Maté):

"The indictment of Hillary Clinton lawyer Michael Sussmann for allegedly lying to the FBI sheds new light on the pivotal role of Democratic operatives in the Russiagate affair. The emerging picture shows Sussmann and his Perkins Coie colleague Marc Elias, the chief counsel for Clinton's 2016 campaign, proceeding on parallel, coordinated tracks to solicit and spread disinformation tying Donald Trump to the Kremlin.

In a detailed charging document last month, Special Counsel John Durham accused Sussmann of concealing his work for the Clinton campaign while trying to sell the FBI on the false claim of a secret Trump backchannel to Russia’s Alfa Bank. But Sussmann's alleged false statement to the FBI in September 2016 wasn't all. Just months before, he helped generate an even more consequential Russia allegation that he also brought to the FBI. In April of that year, Sussmann hired CrowdStrike, the cybersecurity firm that publicly triggered the Russiagate saga by lodging the still unproven claim that Russia was behind the hack of Democratic National Committee emails released by WikiLeaks.

At the time, CrowdStrike was not the only Clinton campaign contractor focusing on Russia. Just days before Sussmann hired CrowdStrike in April, his partner Elias retained the opposition research firm Fusion GPS to dig up dirt on Trump and the Kremlin.

These two Clinton campaign contractors, working directly for two Clinton campaign attorneys, would go on to play highly consequential roles in the ensuing multi-year Russia investigation.

Working secretly for the Clinton campaign, Fusion GPS planted Trump-Russia conspiracy theories in the FBI and US media via its subcontractor, former British spy Christopher Steele. The FBI used the Fusion GPS's now debunked "Steele dossier" for investigative leads and multiple surveillance applications putatively targeting Trump campaign volunteer Carter Page.

CrowdStrike, reporting to Sussmann, also proved critical to the FBI's work. Rather than examine the DNC servers for itself, the FBI relied on CrowdStrike's forensics as mediated by Sussmann.

The FBI's odd relationship with the two Democratic Party contractors gave Sussmann and Elias unprecedented influence over a high-stakes national security scandal that upended U.S. politics and ensnared their political opponents. By hiring CrowdStrike and Fusion GPS, the Perkins Coie lawyers helped define the Trump-Russia narrative and impact the flow of information to the highest reaches of U.S. intelligence agencies.

The established Trump-Russia timeline and the public record, including overlooked sworn testimony, congressional and Justice Department reports, as well as news accounts from the principal recipients of government leaks in the affair, the Washington Post and the New York Times, help to fill in the picture."

"The Perkins Coie-CrowdStrike contract is similar to the arrangement between the firm and another contractor pivotal to the Trump-Russia investigation, Fusion GPS. In their 2019 book, Fusion GPS founders Glenn Simpson and Peter Fritsch wrote that Sussmann's colleague Elias "wanted it that way for legal reasons: If Fusion’s communications were with a lawyer, they could be considered privileged and kept confidential."

After being hired in the same month of April, the two firms also lodged their respective Russia-related allegations within days of each other two months later in June. Just six days after CrowdStrike went public with the allegation that Russia had hacked the DNC on June 14, Christopher Steele produced the first report in what came to be known as the Steele dossier.

Over the ensuing months, the two firms and their Democratic clients actively spread their claims to the FBI and media. Steele and Fusion GPS, backed by their Perkins Coie client Elias, shared the fabricated dossier claims with eager FBI agents and credulous journalists, all while hiding that the Clinton campaign and DNC were footing the bill. "Folks involved in funding this lied about it, and with sanctimony, for a year," the New York Times' Maggie Haberman commented when Elias' secret payments to Fusion GPS were revealed in October 2017.

After going public with its Russian hacking allegation in June, CrowdStrike had contact with the FBI "over a hundred times in the course of many months," CEO Henry recalled. This included sharing with the FBI its redacted reports, and providing it with "a couple of actual digital images" of DNC hard drives, out of a total number of "in excess of 10, I think," Henry testified. When Wikileaks released stolen DNC emails on the eve of the Democratic convention in July, senior Clinton campaign officials doggedly promoted CrowdStrike's claim that Russia had hacked them.

In congressional testimony, Fusion GPS founder Glenn Simpson said that it was an "extraordinary coincidence” that the Russian hacking allegation (by fellow Clinton/Perkins Coie contractor CrowdStrike) overlapped with his firm's Trump-Russia collusion hunt (while working for Clinton/Perkins Coie). 
Coincidence is one possibility. Another is that the roles of Sussman and Elias behind CrowdStrike and Fusion GPS's highly consequential claims about Russia and the 2016 election could be pillars of the same deception."
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