“Gosh Almighty”: Democrats Call to End Durham Investigation Despite Proven Criminal Conduct

440px-John_H._DurhamBelow is my column in the Hill on the announced criminal plea by former FBI lawyer Kevin Clinesmith and the continued calls by Democratic leaders to end the John Durham investigation. This week I discussed the call of Andrew Weissmann, one of the top prosecutors with Special Counsel Robert Mueller, for DOJ lawyers to refuse to help in the investigation despite his own conflict of interest. When the Clinesmith plea was announced, Weissmann proceeded to deride the charge and make spurious legal and factual claims about its basis.  The Weissmann call for DOJ lawyers to hinder this investigation is unprofessional and unwarranted but hardly uncommon in this rage-filled environment.

Here is the column:

Gosh almighty.” Those words from former Vice President Joe Biden sum up plenty about the announced criminal plea by former FBI lawyer Kevin Clinesmith. Of course, Biden was not referring to the implications of the FBI lawyer who lied to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act court for the efforts to continue the surveillance of an adviser to the campaign of Donald Trump. Nor was he referring to growing evidence that the Russia investigation was launched based on false and flawed evidence.

Biden was referring to the federal investigation by United States Attorney John Durham that led to the criminal plea by Clinesmith. Like most other Democrats, Biden previously denounced the investigation and the effort to look into criminality. Now that criminality has been found, Democrats and commentators still insist there are no reasons to continue it.

From the start, Democrats overwhelmingly condemned the investigation despite admitting Durham is a respected prosecutor. Leaders like House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff deemed the investigation “tainted” and “political.” Biden mocked the very idea of an “investigation of the investigators” and added, “Give me a break. Gosh almighty.”

These are the same figures who repeatedly cited plea agreements in the special counsel investigation by Robert Mueller as proof that real crimes were waiting to be found. When the plea by former White House national security adviser Michael Flynn was announced, it was seen as the critical development even though FBI agents said they did not believe Flynn had intentionally lied about his conversations with Russian diplomats.

Many in the media cited the plea by Flynn to disprove the insistence by Trump that the Mueller investigation was a hoax. But they are not citing the plea by Clinesmith to disprove the statement by Biden. Indeed, they have barely covered it. It does not appear to matter that Clinesmith said “viva la resistance” after the 2016 election or that, after claiming he was devastated by the victory of Trump, he lamented that “my god damned name was all over those legal documents investigating his staff.”

But several Democrats and commentators maintained there was never a targeting of the campaign before the special counsel appointment. That was untrue. Declassified documents show that an agent was used with a national security briefing of Trump and his aides during the campaign to gather information for the Russia investigation. Who did the agent report to? Clinesmith and Peter Strzok at the FBI, who infamously referred to his own “insurance” with the chance that Trump might be elected.

This is a plea agreement so it is not known what information Clinesmith may have shared. Moreover, this is just the first public move by Durham, just as Flynn was the early salvo for Mueller. But the date of this criminal false statement is key. In September 2016, administration officials leaked the existence of the classified investigation in the midst of the campaign and suggested Trump adviser Carter Page was a Russian agent.

This secret surveillance started the next month, based on that allegation against Page, when he was in fact an American asset. The FISA court was never told that information in the surveillance application was derived in part from the dossier, or that it was paid for by the opposition campaign. Nor was it told that at the time, FBI agents challenged both the bias and credibility for the dossier author and past British spy Christopher Steele, who was known to have given interviews for the media and claimed that he was trying to defeat Trump and assist the Clinton campaign.

In January 2017, Trump was inaugurated and FBI agents had sought to end their investigation of Flynn, citing no evidence of a crime. However, Strzok evidently wanted the collusion investigation to remain open and, later that month, Clinesmith also sought to renew that surveillance order over Page. His FISA application expressly cited the Steele dossier and described it as credible, despite knowing the different findings by FBI agents.

In February 2017, there were more leaks about alleged collusion by Trump officials with the Russians, a claim that even Strzok said was unsupported. The FBI was finding no evidence of collusion, while there was pressure to end the investigation. In June 2017, Clinesmith falsified an email in a third FISA application. What he was able to hide from the court was incredible. The court was told that Page might be a Russian asset for a conspiracy to influence the election as Clinesmith was told that Page was an American asset who was working by meeting with Russians. Clinesmith altered one critical email to state otherwise and extend the investigation.

When Clinesmith took this criminal action, the Russia collusion theory had already fallen apart. Both former Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and former Acting Attorney General Sally Yates declared they would never have signed off on all the surveillance applications if they knew then what they know today. Rosenstein called for the Durham investigation to finish, while Yates called for accountability for all of the misconduct.

With news of the criminal plea by Clinesmith, one might expect the media and our members of Congress to demand the same vigorous investigation from Durham as they did from Mueller. The collusion allegations that were noted to launch the Russia investigation were after all ultimately rejected. Durham is by contrast investigating the bias and misconduct.

So we have a collusion investigation that was shown to be based on false or unreliable information. It was launched and maintained by officials who were accused by an inspector general of misconduct, false statements, or procedural errors. Today we have the actual criminal guilty plea. However, many voices in Washington continue to insist that there are no reasons for Durham to continue digging. As Biden says, “Gosh almighty.”

Jonathan Turley is the Shapiro Professor of Public Interest Law at George Washington University. You can find his updates online @JonathanTurley.

202 thoughts on ““Gosh Almighty”: Democrats Call to End Durham Investigation Despite Proven Criminal Conduct”

  1. Professor Turley’s summary of events is excellent. The fact that the mainstream media has chosen to overlook these important developments is regrettable. The deterioration of the Fourth Estate (both print and broadcast media) has resulted in an unenlightened society. I would like to see Professor Turley on Sunday news and commentary programs. It is indeed unfortunate that so many citizens of our country really have no understanding of the scope and extent of the subterfuge that has occurred.

  2. I’ve read about all I can stand of the mischaracterizations in this thread that Jonathan Turley is either lying or misrepresenting others, nothing could be further from the truth; it’s all a bunch of bull shit from the hive mind.

    Misrepresentation: the action or offense of giving a false or misleading account of the nature of something.

    Lie: to make an untrue statement with intent to deceive.

    FACT: Just because you disagree with Jonathan Turley doesn’t mean that he is lying or misrepresenting others.

    Presenting different opinions on the content of a particular piece of writing is not always misrepresentation, plausible interpretations of things that are written or said are acceptable whether others like it or not. To accuse others of lying when there is no evidence to support and intent to deceive is morally bankrupt.

    Ryan Goodman wrote, “Turley badly misrepresents what we said…”

    Turley misrepresented what you wrote? Goodman is full of shit.

    Here’s a fact that Ryan Goodman and Andrew Weissmann cannot deny; here’s what they wrote in their New York Times oped:

    “What can be done if Mr. Barr seeks to take actions in service of the president’s political ambitions? There are a variety of ways for Justice Department employees in the Trump era to deal with improper requests. Employees who witness or are asked to participate in such political actions — who all swore an oath to the Constitution and must obey department policies — can refuse, report and, if necessary, resign. Other models include speaking with Congress under subpoena or resigning and then communicating directly to the public. Reputable organizations are at the ready to advise whistle-blowers about the risks and benefits of pursuing these paths.”

    That is exactly what Goodman and Weissmann wrote in their oped, this is a fact and cannot be denied.

    This section of that paragraph…

    “What can be done if Mr. Barr seeks to take actions in service of the president’s political ambitions? There are a variety of ways for Justice Department employees in the Trump era to deal with improper requests. Employees who witness or are asked to participate in such political actions”

    …is pure subjective poison. The first “if” sentence is not even based on actual facts, it’s based on a pure biased opinion of one possible future that’s not supported by the past actions of the subject of the sentence, Attorney General Barr (notice how they intentionally disrespect the Attorney General’s position by omitting his title an calling him “Mr”), this is 100% innuendo based pure subjective poison. These three sentences of pure subjective poison is what Goodman and Weissmann are using to justify and, in my opinion, encouraging exactly what Jonathan Turley wrote,

    “In the column, he appeared to call on Justice Department lawyers to undermine the Durham investigation as well as the investigation by U.S. Attorney John Bash’s investigation into the “unmasking” requests by Obama administration officials.”

    Here is my opinion. What Goodman and Weissmann essentially did in this paragraph of their not so subtle oped was to publish sedition against the Department of Justice. Goodman and Weissmann tried to justify their call to action (that’s what that paragraph was) with a nearly 900 word listing of innuendo and false equivalencies that they dangled in front of biased readers in hopes that they would swallow their bait and wholly justify their seditious call to subvert the Department of Justice. This is the kind of biased propaganda that irrational political hacks write. That’s my opinion.

    A person with real integrity would have not written that “Turley badly misrepresents what we said”, which is a personal attack on Turley’s character, he would have written that he disagrees with Turley’s opinion and presented things to support his own argument. Disagreeing is fine. Goodman’s actions are similar to that of a political hack that attacks the messenger.

    Overall; this kind of reaction from Goodman, and some in this comment thread, have become all to typical of what the extreme political left does to a Liberal when that Liberal has the audacity to contradict what an extremist tries to insert into the anti-Trump hive mind that rationalizes damn near all their resistance to President Trump with the ends justifies the means rationalization. The extreme political left assumes that all Liberals will kowtow to the extremes of their party and keep their differences of opinion to themselves and if they don’t they will bullied into submission of ostracized as an outcast. Cross the anti-Trump resistance or the extreme political left in any way and you will become their next target. It’s all or nothing to the extremists in the hive mind.

    No, Jonathan Turley is not misrepresenting what others have written or said.

    No, Jonathan Turley is not a liar.

    Here is the mindset of these hive minded extremists…

    You will be assimilated; resistance is futile.
    https://stevewitherspoonhome.files.wordpress.com/2020/05/borgregenerationchamber.jpg

    1. Steve, like JT, leaves out that the suggestion was to refrain during the election season – which is long standing DOJ policy – and not for ever. I wonder why.

      Given that Barr now has a record of multiple partisan acts which demonstrate his untrustworthy character, the suggestion is well taken.. Would Steve like those enumerated?

      1. It’s interesting that you didn’t directly challenge anything I wrote and instead you chose to deflect.

        By the Book wrote, “Steve, like JT, leaves out that the suggestion was to refrain during the election season – which is long standing DOJ policy – and not for ever. I wonder why.”

        Read this seditious call to subvert the Department of Justice paragraph again, the content, context and call to action is very clear.

        “What can be done if Mr. Barr seeks to take actions in service of the president’s political ambitions? There are a variety of ways for Justice Department employees in the Trump era to deal with improper requests. Employees who witness or are asked to participate in such political actions — who all swore an oath to the Constitution and must obey department policies — can refuse, report and, if necessary, resign. Other models include speaking with Congress under subpoena or resigning and then communicating directly to the public. Reputable organizations are at the ready to advise whistle-blowers about the risks and benefits of pursuing these paths.”

        If the authors intended for this to be a postponement of actions by the Justice department then there should have been a direct connection within the paragraph to a postponement, there was not; however, they chose to support their call to action with unsupportable things like “in service of the president’s political ambitions”, “improper requests” and “asked to participate in such political actions” – none of these things are supportable with facts it’s all innuendo, spin and accusations.

        By the Book wrote, “Given that Barr now has a record of multiple partisan acts which demonstrate his untrustworthy character, the suggestion is well taken.. Would Steve like those enumerated?”

        All I’ve seen is innuendo, spin, and accusations so, since you asked, yes please tell us of Barr’s “multiple partisan acts” and enumerate them however you like as long as you properly support your claim.

        1. OK Steve, but Google will get you there too.

          1. Spinning the Mueller Report to favor Trump, including list of incidents of Obstruction of Justice
          2. Ordering an investigation into Operation Crossfire even after a respected IG released a report finding no partisan origins, behavior, or spying.
          3. Justified stonewalling Congressional subpoenas at a level never previously practiced.
          4. ND speech blaming the world’s problems on secularists
          5. Meddle in DOJ case on Trump crony Stone
          6. Meddle in DOJ case on Trump crony Flynn
          7. Orchestrate gassing of peaceful protesters in Lafayette Square to facilitate Trump photo op

          I’m sure there are many more.

            1. REGARDING ABOVE:

              This is our creepy loser of a troll doing what he loves. In his mind the Trumpers on this blog are grateful for these ‘contributions’.

          1. 1. Spinning the Mueller Report to favor Trump, including list of incidents of Obstruction of Justice.

            He did no such thing.

            2. Ordering an investigation into Operation Crossfire even after a respected IG released a report finding no partisan origins, behavior, or spying.

            That’s a non-logic based rationalization delivered straight up without a twist. What that IG stated does not mean in any way that there wasn’t anything illegal that took place in Operation Crossfire; case in point the recent Clinesmith case of illegally doctoring documents submitted to the FISA court to falsely misrepresent Carter Page.

            3. Justified stonewalling Congressional subpoenas at a level never previously practiced.

            That’s BS. They have every right to legally challenge a congressional subpoena. It’s up to Congress to try to enforce their subpoena in court, congress backed down.

            4. ND speech blaming the world’s problems on secularists

            Wow, that’s quite a stretch. No, By the Book, he pointed out his observations as to what secularists have been doing here in the United States.

            5. Meddle in DOJ case on Trump crony Stone

            Nope, that BS isn’t doesn’t to pass the smell test, nothing partisan there. There is only partisan propaganda spin trying to smear him for doing his damn job.

            6. Meddle in DOJ case on Trump crony Flynn

            Nope, that BS isn’t doesn’t to pass the smell test, nothing partisan there. There is only partisan propaganda spin trying to smear him for doing his damn job.

            7. Orchestrate gassing of peaceful protesters in Lafayette Square to facilitate Trump photo op

            That is false! You’re disregarding actual facts that disprove that false notion.

            Overall, By the Book, don’t let facts get in the way of your propaganda based smears.

            1. Witherspoon, we can go round & round & round debating the origins of Mueller’s probe and whether the FBI had justification to investigate. But at the end of the day, Donald Trump acts like he could really be a stooge for Vladimir Putin. We have never seen a president so focused on polarizing the country!

              And currently Donald Trump is creating serious suspense regarding ‘this’ year’s election. We, the American public, are honestly not sure if Trump will concede defeat if he loses. To the contrary, Trump keeps hinting there could easily be a constitutional crisis this fall. If indeed it comes to that America will look like a failed state.

              Therefore John Durham’s investigation, and whatever findings it produces, is already irrelevant in the minds of most Americans. No one outside the rightwing bubble is going to think, “Wow, the FBI ‘really’ was unfair to Trump in 2016”. It won’t matter because Trump has most Americans genuinely frightened about ‘this’ year’s election.

              1. Seth Warner wrote, “Donald Trump acts like he could really be a stooge for Vladimir Putin.”

                That’s just as absurd as saying that President Trump is a Nazi or Hitler, it’s partisan propaganda.

                Seth Warner wrote, “We, the American public, are honestly not sure if Trump will concede defeat if he loses.”

                That argument is also propaganda. Of course Donald Trump will leave office if he looses the election, implying something else is intentional fear mongering.

                Seth Warner wrote, “To the contrary, Trump keeps hinting there could easily be a constitutional crisis this fall.”

                Only if Trump wins and the extreme political left continue to loose their minds.

                Seth Warner wrote, “No one outside the rightwing bubble is going to think, “Wow, the FBI ‘really’ was unfair to Trump in 2016”.”

                That’s because those in the anti-Trump hive mind think that the ends justifies the means.

          2. BTB, you may want to play “When the Levee Breaks” by Led Zeppelin as you read this:

            “Will the Dam Break After Clinesmith’s Plea?”

            https://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2020/08/18/will_the_dam_break_after_clinesmiths_plea_143983.html

            “Real trouble looms for anybody on the Mueller team or elsewhere at the DoJ and FBI who knew that Clinesmith had altered the CIA email to change its meaning. There’s even worse trouble ahead for those who ordered him to commit a crime. To prove those charges, Durham needs documents or multiple eyewitnesses. Clinesmith can point prosecutors in the right direction, but his word alone won’t do.”

            That means Weissman may also be in Durham’s crosshairs. Which explains why he’s screaming like a scalded dog.

            As to your feeble whining about the timing? You can write that off to the scamdemic.

            Too bad……

      1. Anonymous wrote, “Absolutely fantastic. 100% truth written right there. Impressive writing.”

        Based on other things that this “Anonymous” person has trolled over the last couple of days, I’m not exactly sure how I should to take what’s written.

        Is this honest statements, which coming from an internet troll should be taken like a grain of salt; is it sarcasm; or lastly, is it pandering trying to gain favor because I’ve only been here a couple of days and already pegged this person’s as an internet troll based on the comments I’ve seen?

        Inquiring people want to know.

  3. Biden and Trump would be smart to support Senator Patrick Leary’s “Post 9/11 Truth Commission” proposal. Since both parties are hip deep, a “Truth Commission” is the one and only real way to reform excessive secrecy in government. A Leahy style “Truth Commission” offers conditional-immunity from criminal prosecution in exchange for truth telling and relevant reforms. The only unresolved issue is how do we make the post-9/11 heroes like Snowden and Kiriakou whole again, if we pardon the villains of 9/11 that perpetrated war crimes and felonies under federal law. For example: if we pardon DOJ attorneys that intentionally committed legal malpractice, by green-lighting torture and felony wiretapping, how do we provide justice for heroes like Kiriakou that served years in prison? When any nation practices excessive secrecy, a Leahy style “Truth Commission” is the one and only way to serve American voters and taxpayers.

      1. The most honest comment so far given how many are losing their minds over the fact that Turley has been caught lying on his column, with actual proof to boot.

        1. You miss the point entirely.

          Paul Sperry put it this way:

          “Democrats like to talk about “voter suppression.” But suppressing information about what the Obama/Biden administration did in 2016 to stop candidate Trump & devise an “insurance policy” to cripple his presidency & resist the agenda voters voted for is a form of voter suppression.”

Leave a Reply