Bill Barr‘s secret appointment of a U.S. Attorney to investigate the origins of the FBI’s investigation into Russia’s influence on Donald Trump, the Trump campaign, and the 2016 election has received a big blow. A lawyer for the Hillary Clinton campaign was just acquitted of a charge of lying to the FBI, leaving legal experts to wonder why John Durham, the former U.S. Attorney appointed by then-Attorney General Bill Barr, just months before his resignation, is continuing in his role as special counsel, and why the investigation, now more two years old, hasn’t closed down.
“The first courtroom test for Special Counsel John Durham ended in defeat Tuesday as a federal jury found a Democratic attorney not guilty of making a false statement to the FBI about allegations of computer links between Donald Trump and Russia,” Politico reports. “The jury deliberated for about six hours before acquitting Michael Sussmann, 57, on the single felony charge he faced: that he lied when he allegedly denied he was acting on behalf of any client in alerting the FBI to claims that a secret server linked Trump and a Moscow bank with ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin.”
Former U.S, Attorney Joyce Vance, who is now a law professor and an MSNBC/NBC News legal analyst, criticized the very existence of the Durham investigation after Sussman was acquitted.
“The failure to convict today, largely was a result, in my judgment, of the fact that the FBI has to establish that not only was Jim Baker – their general counsel – lied to, but the lie was material,” Vance told MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell in the noon hour Tuesday. “And of course, the defendant Mr. Sussman maintained that he never lied about who he represented or why he was there. And also the lie even if there was one wouldn’t have been material because the FBI would have still investigated this information.”
“So this entire situation smacks of sour grapes,” Vance continued, referring to the Durham investigation itself. “Perhaps, at best, an effort by former Attorney General Bill Barr to curry favor with the [Trump] White House. At worst an effort to appease Donald Trump and investigate one of his pet theories: what Trump always called ‘the Russia hoax.'”
Former SDNY federal prosecutor:
I hope that Michael Sussman sues Durham, Barr, DeFilippis, & others who were responsible for this completely political/frivolous prosecution. I recommend @lauferlaw.
— Richard Signorelli (@richsignorelli) May 31, 2022
Political scientist, editor for The Atlantic:
John Durham threw away his reputation to become a Trump lickspittle. He and Bill Barr just slapped down for their behavior. A three year witch hunt.
— Norman Ornstein (@NormOrnstein) May 31, 2022
Talking Points Memo founder and editor:
this was never a real investigation or prosecutorial effort. it was a political assignment from bill barr to create a phony story for Donald Trump. it would be best if Durham just walked away in shame because the level of corruption here is beyond belief.
— Josh Marshall (@joshtpm) May 31, 2022
Noted conservative commentator:
Big blow to John Durham / Bill Barr project of punishing those who warned the country about Russia's support for Donald Trump https://t.co/NoB2szJmgn
— David Frum (@davidfrum) May 31, 2022
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J6 Committee Announces Plan for Final Report
The U.S. House Select Committee on the January 6 Attack is wrapping up its 17-month long investigation and has announced its plan for its final report.
Chairman Bennie Thompson (D-MS) Wednesday evening told reporters the committee will issue a final report in two weeks, on December 21. A “formal presentation” will accompany the final report, Axios’ Andrew Solender reports.
What form the presentation will take is unclear. Presumably it will not be a primetime televised hearing.
Chairman Thompson told reporters, “there will be some form of public presentation. We haven’t decided exactly what that would be,” Grayer says.
NBC reporters say that date is “a bit later than the committee was hoping and it forced some members and staff to change holiday plans.”
“In addition to considering a referral involving former President Donald Trump,” NBC News reports, “the committee could offer contempt of Congress referrals for fellow members who have ignored its subpoenas, for witnesses it believes lied to its investigators and for individuals it believes attempted to intimidate witnesses in the probe.”
“The report will be a massive compilation of the work the committee has done for the last year and a half, outlining its findings and offering up recommendations and possible legislation to prevent something like the Jan. 6 attack from happening again. Thompson has said the document could be up to eight chapters.”
Florida ‘Don’t Say Gay’ Bill Author Indicted on Federal Fraud Charges: DOJ
Florida Republican state lawmaker Joe Harding, the author of the highly-criticized and some say unconstitutional “Don’t Say Gay” law, has been indicted by a U.S. Dept. of Justice grand jury on federal fraud charges.
“A federal grand jury has returned a six-count indictment against Joseph Harding, 35, of Williston, Florida,” the Justice Dept. said in a press release, detailing an alleged scheme, which included obtaining “fraudulently created bank statements,” to defraud the U.S. Government’s Small Business Administration of $150,000.
The felony charges include wire fraud, money laundering, and making false statements.
The DOJ indictment also alleges, “Harding committed two acts of wire fraud by participating in a scheme to defraud the Small Business Administration (SBA) and for obtaining coronavirus-related small business loans by means of materially false and fraudulent pretenses, representations, and promises, and for the purpose of executing such scheme, caused wire communications to be transmitted in interstate commerce.”
Trial is scheduled for next month. DOJ says Harding could be subject to as many as 35 years in prison should he be found guilty on all charges.
Harding’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill, which Florida Republican Governor Ron DeSantis not only signed into law but used, via his then-press secretary to further attacks on the LGBTQ community, doubled-down on one of his key components: outing LGBTQ children to their parents.
The legislation, technically named the “Parental Rights in Education” Act, prohibits “classroom instruction” on sexual orientation or gender identity in certain school grades, but as expected, has been seen as “confusing” and a total ban on any discussion of LGBTQ issues.
Making clear the legislation’s intent, Florida GOP lawmakers voted down an proposed by a Democrat that would require schools create a safe environment for LGBTQ children.
“Those are serious allegations of corruption,” Equality Florida Executive Director Nadine Smith told Florida Politics, which first reported the news. “The courts will sort through that sordid mess but we know he’s made many false statements about the LGBTQ community. Florida parents are forced to navigate schools that are less safe for their children because Joe Harding’s political ambitions know no bounds.”
This is a breaking news and developing story. Details may change.
Image via Facebook
Criminal Referrals Coming From J6 Committee
The U.S. House Select Committee on the January 6 Attack has decided it will make criminal referrals to the U.S. Dept. of Justice, based on its interviews with over 1000 witnesses during its 17-month-long investigation.
Chairman Bennie Thompson (D-MS) made the announcement Tuesday, CNN reports.
CBS News’ Robert Costa shares the exchange:
Q: Have you made a decision about whether even to do that or not?
Q: And what was that decision?
THOMPSON: We will.
Q: You will make criminal referrals?
Thompson has not stated who would be referred for criminal prosecution.
Attorney General Merrick Garland recently, in a rare news conference, implied the U.S. Dept. of Justice was frustrated Thompson’s committee has not yet handed over all of the transcripts from its investigation, which is wrapping up before Republicans take the majority next month.
This is a breaking news and developing story.
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