Waiting for Durham May Be Over

August 16, 2020 Updated: August 18, 2020

Commentary

Things seem to be speeding up now, which is good. I was beginning to think that John Durham was auditioning for a PoMo production of “Waiting for Godot” with himself in the title role. The public would be left like Vladimir and Estragon, disillusioned and alone.

But the recent news that a felony charge has been brought against Kevin Clinesmith, the FBI lawyer who altered an email and lied to the FISA court in order to get a warrant issued to surveil Carter Page—and thus gain a secret backdoor entry to the Trump campaign—provides a ray of hope that Godot-Durham will appear after all. He’ll have to be quick about it, because the Democrats are already sweating bullets about what he’ll turn up.

Like Koko in “The Mikado,” I have a little list of “society offenders.” Clinesmith is on that list, but, to be honest, rather far down. True, he doctored evidence and lied in order to bring the awesome police power of the state against an innocent U.S. citizen, but at the end of the day, Clinesmith was a minnow in the pond of corruption that was the deep state “plot to rig an election and destroy a presidency” (to cite the subtitle of Andy McCarthy’s book on the subject, “Ball of Collusion”).

Yes, it was preposterous for a lawyer representing Clinesmith to say that “it was never [Clinesmith’s] intent to mislead the court or his colleagues, as he believed the information he relayed was accurate.”

No, he didn’t. The email in question came from the CIA and reported that Carter Page was a source for the agency. Clinesmith altered the email to say that he was not a CIA source. As legal commentator Jonathan Turley notes, “The CIA made clear to Clinesmith that Page was working for United States intelligence, a fact that critically undermined the basis for the original application for secret surveillance.”

Remember, Page was not the object of the Obama administration’s interest. Donald Trump was. Page was merely the conduit, the doorway, into the Trump campaign. The fact that people in the FBI were perfectly happy to abuse a surveillance apparatus designed primarily to investigate foreign actors, wielding it instead against a U.S. citizen they knew to be innocent, is actually quite shocking.

‘Biggest Political Scandal’

And it is all the more shocking when you factor in the motive: to determine the result of a U.S. presidential election and then, when that did not work, to alter the result by framing the duly elected president for fabricated crimes they knew he did not commit.

It’s why I and others have described what Svetlana Lokhova calls “Spygate” as the “biggest political scandal in U.S. history.” Someone won the presidency whom the Deep State, prominently including members of the outgoing administration, did not like. Therefore, they plotted to take him out.

The moral is, democracy is all well and good, so long as the voters vote for a candidate we approve of. Somehow, Donald Trump was elected without the permission—indeed, over the strenuous objections—of the permanent bureaucracy. The whole Trump–Russia narrative was concocted to correct that mistake.

The centerpiece of that effort was of course the pathetic investigation presided over, at least nominally, by Robert Mueller, a former director of the FBI. Some two years and $30 million or $40 million later, Mueller and his “dream team” managed to ruin the careers and lives of a handful of Trump associates, but they proved exactly nothing about any connection, coordination, or collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.

Indeed, the only Russians in the story were the shadowy figures that Christopher “Mr. Dossier” Steele dredged up in assembling the smoldering packet of “salacious and unverified” rumors paid for by the DNC and the Clinton campaign. Mind-boggling, really.

Nominally in Charge

I said that Mueller was only “nominally” in charge of the investigation that bore his name. Just how nominal became embarrassingly clear when, at long last, he testified before Congress about his findings. This was supposed to be the moment that “The Resistance” was waiting for, the moment when the ax fell for Trump, who would finally be exposed as Vladimir Putin’s puppet.

What the world actually saw was a doddering old man who had only the foggiest idea of what was happening around him, or—more to the point—what was in the report that bore his name.

The nadir came when Mueller was asked about Fusion GPS, the anti-Trump oppo-research firm that directed Steele’s activities. The name “Fusion GPS” was everywhere in those days. It probably appears dozens of times in Mueller’s report.

I’m not familiar with that,” Mueller said.

No, Mueller was just the public face of the investigation that bore his name, much as Joe Biden would be the public face of the administration bearing his name were he (per impossible) to be elected in November. The real power behind the Mueller investigation was Andrew Weissmann, a left-wing poster boy for prosecutorial abuse (he figures prominently in Sidney Powell’s scathing “Licensed to Lie: Exposing Corruption in the Department of Justice”).

Writing about Mueller’s appointment of Weissmann to be his chief aide, Turley noted that it raised eyebrows because of Weissmann’s notorious record. Weissmann, Turley noted, “has been widely criticized for a pattern of ‘prosecutorial overreach’ in cases like Enron.”

“Weissmann’s work against the accounting firm of Arthur Andersen is one such example. The convictions that he secured at any cost in that case were unanimously reversed by the Supreme Court. [Too late! Some 18,000 people lost their jobs because of Weissmann’s overreach.] Likewise, Weissmann secured convictions against four executives with Merrill Lynch by stretching the criminal code beyond recognition. The Fifth Circuit reversed them. He also resigned from the Enron task force in the midst of complaints over his tactics,” Turley wrote.

I would not doubt that it was Weissmann who recommended those pre-dawn raids against Roger Stone and Paul Manafort, who engineered the use of Manafort’s own lawyer against him, or who saw to it that Manafort was kept in solitary confinement while repeatedly being dragged out and asked whether he didn’t remember anything incriminating about his friend Trump.

Disgusting behavior by a disgusting human being. Nor has Weissmann learned any lessons. Today, when he isn’t holding fundraisers for Biden, he is penning op-eds for The New York Times urging Justice Department officials not to cooperate with the Durham investigation or posting nonsensical protestations on Twitter that Clinesmith really did nothing wrong in doctoring evidence and lying about it.

As Turley notes, Weissmann was “completely distorting both the law and the facts to disregard the significance of [Clinesmith’s] guilty plea.”

But that is precisely what Weissmann does: distort the law and the facts in order to destroy people he doesn’t like and feed his appetite for power. I noted above that Clinesmith came rather low down on my “little list” of reprobates. Weismann comes much higher up, and I know I am not the only one who hopes he has attracted the interest of John Durham.

Roger Kimball is the editor and publisher of The New Criterion and publisher of Encounter Books. His most recent book is “The Fortunes of Permanence: Culture and Anarchy in an Age of Amnesia.”

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.