On the day after Ken Starr dies we learned that John Durham’s grand jury is expiring, and it appears he’s not calling another one. Which suggests his investigation is over.
As you might recall, Durham has been working since 2019, and spending millions of dollars, to uncover the nefarious conspiracy about how the FBI and Hillary Clinton fabricated evidence and spread false allegations about Donald Trump’s campaign working with Russia to win the 2016 election.
His results? As of November 2021 Durham had issued single-count indictments against two Americans for making a false statement, and a five-count false statement indictment against a Russian national. One of the Americans was acquitted at trial; the other, an FBI lawyer, entered into a plea agreement with no jail time for doctoring an email used in preparation for a wiretap renewal application.
The Russian national, Igor Danchenko, goes on trial next month. The Right is feverishly looking forward to the Danchenko testimony that will discredit the evil Steele Dossier. The problem, of course, is that (one) the Steele Dossier has already been pretty much discredited; (two) the Steele Dossier wasn’t nearly as big a part of the evidence against Trump that the Right claims it to be. In fact, when the FBI began its investigation it didn’t yet know the dossier existed.
The basis for the investigation was instead that WikiLeaks had disrupted the Democratic National Convention by releasing Democratic emails believed to have been stolen by Russian hackers, and that an Australian diplomat said a Trump campaign foreign policy adviser had bragged to him about apparent outreach from Russia involving an offer to help the campaign by anonymously releasing information damaging to Mrs. Clinton.
And to my mind, those allegations are still outstanding. We never did get to the bottom of this. Tossing out the Steele Dossier comes nowhere close to proving that “Russiagate” was a hoax.
In other words, Durham’s probe found almost nothing. If you gave me a staff of attorneys, a few million dollars and subpoena power, I could probably find more crimes committed last month at your neighborhood fast food joint. What Durham most certainly didn’t find was a vast conspiracy. Yet that’s exactly what many Republicans believed he would do. …
…We see this so often: Republicans insist they’re about to reveal a nefarious conspiracy, and when given the opportunity, they can’t deliver. Just look at all the investigations and audits of the 2020 election. Every time, they say “Now you’ll see how the election was stolen!” But even their own probes can’t locate the fraud, no matter how many ballots they scan for traces of bamboo.
The tales Republicans tell about these controversies have several key elements. They begin from the assumption that in every situation, their opponents have only the most wicked of intentions. A Democratic president can only be seeking the literal destruction of America (or as Fox News’s Tucker Carlson recently said, President Biden aims to “completely destroy the West in order to make way for Chinese global dominance”). No Democrat can merely be trying to win an election to implement the party’s favored policies.
There is always a sinister hidden agenda that cannot be spoken aloud and must therefore be unearthed by brave conservatives. There are no ordinary facts, no mistakes and no coincidences. If there’s an incorrect date on a form, it must be the key to the conspiracy. If some low-level official cut corners somewhere, it can only have been on orders from the very top.
House Republicans are already promising similar pointless investigations beginning next year, assuming they take back the House. Expect months of Hunter Biden’s laptop, 24-7, and a revenge impeachment of President Biden, just for starters. I expect the ghouls to go after Anthony Fauci (possibly why he’s choosing to retire at the end of this year) and Merrick Garland also.
See also Fox News Found a New Rabbit Hole from February 2022.
Back to Mar-a-Lago. Last night the Department of Justice filed another brief with Judge Loose Cannon. The brief reiterates the simple fact that the documents Trump is fighting about don’t belong to him. The Presidential Records Act makes that clear. And he can’t claim executive privilege because a former POTUS cannot possibly have privilege that overrides that of the sitting POTUS. The privilege belongs to the executive, and the executive can’t keep secrets from the executive. And he hasn’t demonstrated that anything was declassified, and that wouldn’t change the facts of the case if he had. It’s still the government’s property.
I liked this part —
The Court did not—and could not—appoint a special master to exercise roving “supervisory authority” over thegovernment’s ongoing criminal investigation, contra D.E. 84 at 4, or to adjudicate matters ultimately irrelevant to Plaintiff’s potential privilege claims, such as whether Plaintiff might have declassified seized documents that bear classification markings or whether Plaintiff might have designated those documents as his “personal” records for purposes of the PRA. Be cause Plaintiff cannot plausibly assert executive privilege (or attorney-client privilege, seesupra p. 3) as to any seized records bearing classification markings, the Court should not enjoin the government’s use of those records or order those records reviewed by a special master pending the government’s appeal.
The passage nicely exemplifies the tone of thinly veiled exasperation, as in I can’t believe I have to explain this to you, that permeates the brief.
It goes on to argue that the nation could suffer irreparable harm if the investigation into possible intelligence damage is not allowed to go forward immediately. And oh, by the way, what actual damages can Donald Trump possibly claim if the Court lifted its stay on the investigation? Unless he’s guilty of something, of course.
Ambush at Hardee’s. By now you’ve heard that Mike Lindell’s car was surrounded by FBI agents while the My Pillow exec was in a drive-through lane at a Hardee’s. The feds took Lindell’s phone and served him with a subpoena. What can one say but, heh.