Home Local News Tillis, Burr seeking answers in Durham probe

Tillis, Burr seeking answers in Durham probe

Sen. Thom Tillis speaks during a U.S. Senate committee hearing.
C-Span

WASHINGTON — The so-called mainstream media, consumed with COVID and Ukraine, continue to either discount or downright ignore the Durham report and a recent court filing, which, pending an investigation, could have huge ramifications for Democrats and the Biden administration.

U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis, a North Carolina Republican, is crying foul.

“The recent revelations of the Durham report are alarming,” Tillis told Carolina Journal in an email. “That’s why I am calling on Attorney General (Merrick) Garland to give assurances that the Department of Justice will continue to respect the prosecutorial independence of Special Counsel John Durham and his staff and ensure that he is provided all resources necessary to fully, thoroughly, and completely pursue the investigation for which he was appointed.” 

Durham is a former U.S. attorney in Connecticut. Then-Attorney General William Barr appointed him in 2019 to look into possible misconduct within the U.S. government as it investigated Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and any ties to the Trump campaign.

Tillis and 44 of his colleagues, including Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., on Wednesday, Feb. 16, signed onto a letter to Garland about the probe. It’s the second such letter from lawmakers seeking answers about the investigation.

In a news release to CJ, Tillis says, “The letter comes as Special Counsel John Durham continues to uncover alarming new information about the fraudulent origins of the FBI’s investigation of alleged Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. elections.

“Most recently, that includes revelations in new court filings that individuals affiliated with the Hillary Clinton campaign exploited access to non-public data from White House internet servers and other locations in an attempt to fabricate a narrative of ongoing communications with Russia and Russian entities.”

The Durham investigation continues, though mostly out of the media spotlight. Friday’s court filing raises the prospect of a conflict of interest involving Michael Sussmann, a cybersecurity lawyer who worked for Clinton’s presidential campaign and one of three people charged in the probe.

Sussman has pleaded not guilty after being indicted on charges of lying to the FBI during a meeting in 2016.

In September of 2016, The Associated Press reports, Sussmann met with the FBI to relay concerns from cybersecurity researchers about a possible digital backchannel between servers of the Trump Organization and of Russia-based Alfa Bank — “a tantalizing claim that, if true, could have signaled contact between the Trump orbit and Russia at a time when the FBI was already trying to determine if there was such a connection,” the AP says.

“The FBI investigated but found those concerns unfounded. Durham last year charged Sussmann with lying to the FBI during that 2016 meeting by saying that he wasn’t sharing the Alfa Bank concerns on behalf of any particular client when actually, prosecutors allege, he was doing so as an attorney for the Clinton campaign. Sussmann’s lawyers have vigorously denied that he lied,” the AP says.

Garland, appointed by Biden, has said little about the investigation

Tillis, in Wednesday’s news release, says findings in the Durham probe “include the highly concerning, and potentially criminal, manipulation and exploitation of federal law enforcement resources to target American citizens, including a presidential candidate, based upon fabricated evidence that had been procured and disseminated by individuals closely connected with a rival political campaign.”

Leftist media outlets are taking shots at conservative media for even giving credence to the latest reports and their subsequent coverage. This is the same mainstream media that spent years trying to tie the Trump administration to Russia. After a years’ long investigation, the special prosecutor, Robert Mueller, who investigated the claims against the former president, found Trump committed no crimes.

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“MSNBC, which made the Russian investigation the most dominant topic on the network for years under President Trump, completely ignored the revelations Durham made the court filing late Friday night through Monday,” wrote Fox News. “‘Morning Joe’ addressed it on Tuesday. 

“CNN dedicated less than three minutes to the subject during the same period with only one mention on Monday’s installment of ‘The Lead with Jake Tapper,’ and ABC, CBS, and NBC similarly made no mention of the new developments on their morning and evening newscasts, though NBC News published a report online,” Fox says. “The New York Times skipped running a report and went with ‘news analysis,’ slamming right-wing outlets’ for pushing a narrative that is ‘off track.’”

In August of last year, U.S. Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas, Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee, and Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, along with 41 of their Republican colleagues, sent a letter to Garland asking for an update on the status into what’s called the Crossfire Hurricane Investigation — Durham’s probe — and to ensure the investigation is seen to completion.

The senators wrote: “The Special Counsel’s ongoing work is important to many Americans who were disturbed that government agents subverted lawful process to conduct inappropriate surveillance for political purposes. The truth pursued by this investigation is necessary to ensure transparency in our intelligence agencies and restore faith in our civil liberties. Thus, it is essential that the Special Counsel’s ongoing review should be allowed to continue unimpeded and without undue limitations.”

Burr’s office did not immediately respond to CJ, though he signed both letters.

“The fraudulent abuse of the FBI’s investigative powers by those malign actors has left a dark stain on the reputation and credibility of the nation’s premier law enforcement agency,” the news release on Wednesday from Tillis says. “We hope you agree that those responsible for that manipulation and exploitation must be identified and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law by Special Counsel Durham. We further expect you will support his important work until all those responsible for the fraud committed upon the American people are brought to justice.”

In a recent editorial, The Wall Street Journal said disclosures in the latest findings raise troubling questions far beyond the Sussmann indictment. 

“How long did this snooping last and who had access to what was found? Who approved the access to White House data, and who at the FBI and White House knew about it? Were Mrs. Clinton and senior campaign aides personally aware of this data-trolling operation?

“Mr. Durham’s revelations,” the WSJ writes, “take the 2016 collusion scam well beyond the Steele dossier, which was based on the unvetted claims of a Russian emigre working in Washington. Those claims and the Sussmann assertions were channeled to the highest levels of the government via contacts at the FBI, CIA and State Department. They became fodder for secret and unjustified warrants against a former Trump campaign official, and later for Robert Mueller’s two-year mole hunt that turned up no evidence of collusion.”

Along the way, the national newspaper writes, the Clinton campaign fed the bogus claims to a “willing and gullible media. … [T]he unfolding information underscores that the Russia collusion story was one of the dirtiest tricks in U.S. political history. Mr. Durham should tell the whole sordid story.”

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