Did The DOJ's Inspector General's Office Try To Pull A Fast One on Special Counsel John Durham?
If So...It Did **NOT** Go As Intended
Don’t mess with the John Durham or the crack people in his Special Counsel’s Office.
Don’t try to hide stuff from him.
It’s not worth it.
You will be found out.
And then Durham will roast you publicly.
And the SCO will reveal they already got what you were trying to hide from them anyway.
This is what he just did to Department of Justice Inspector General Michael Horowitz and the Office of the Inspector General [OIG] that Horowitz is in charge of.
Here’s the Cliff Notes summary of what happened:
The DOJ OIG tried to hide all material related to a meeting that former Clinton campaign lawyer Michael Sussmann had with Inspector General Horowitz about an OIG employee's computer supposedly being connected to a foreign VPN, and it was Sussmann's own attorneys that alerted Durham to this omission.
But that wasn’t all!
The OIG also tried to claim it had told Durham 4 years ago that it had former FBI General Counsel James Baker's phones. But then the OIG somehow "forgot" to mention this when the Durham SCO specifically requested all discovery material related to Sussmann's case last October.
Naturally, John Durham was not pleased to discover that the Inspector General’s Office had somehow neglected to pass on these two key pieces of discovery evidence in the Sussmann case to him.
This led directly to the explosive filing in which Durham called out and exposed the OIG on both of these attempts to stonewall him.
[I sure hope all the other agencies out there are paying attention. Like say, the CIA, the State Department and the FBI]
The OIG also didn’t seem to anticipate James Baker cooperating with the SCO about having turned his phones over to the OIG back in 2017. Because I’m pretty sure when asked Baker would have no problem relating when and to whom he handed over his phones back in 2017.
Sussmann and Baker cooperating with the Durham SCO means any attempt to hide discovery evidence was always headed for failure and exposure.
Naturally some notable Conservative media outlets rushed out a bad hot take about this new Durham filing immediately after it had been made, claiming it proved the Durham SCO is running a bad or fake investigation.
This hot take completely overlooked how Durham just raked the OIG over the coals, publicly exposing this attempt to hide discovery from him to compromise his case against Sussmann. And he got the discovery anyway because it is apparent that BOTH SUSSMANN AND BAKER HAVE FLIPPED and are volunteering key info to Durham.
Sussmann himself told his attorneys to alert Durham that the OIG was hiding the personal 2017 meeting with Horowitz from him, and Baker also knows when, where and to who he surrendered his phones.
Are you starting to get the idea of how futile a cover up would be? What confidence could you have in being able to successfully hide evidence from the Special Counsel when he’s got flipped plotters cooperating with his investigation as they bargain for a better deal for themselves who will ruin your plan by handing Durham what you’re trying to hide from him?
Professor Margot Cleveland at The Federalist quite ably explains what this explosive new filing revealed in an article entitled “Special Counsel ‘Clarification’ Reveals The DOJ’s Inspector General Is Not A Team Player”.
After Durham made his latest Sussmann case filing on Tuesday, January 25th in which he criticized the OIG for withholding discovery material, the OIG attempted a convoluted response that can only be described as duplicitous. So on Friday the Durham SCO dropped a “clarification” that bitch-slapped the OIG even harder.
It’s the contents of the SCO clarification filing that prompted Professor Cleveland to write her column.
You should click over and read her entire column before proceeding here, because this can get a bit complicated. The SCO claims it just discovered this omitted discovery evidence about Sussmann’s visit with Horowitz and Baker’s phones, while the OIG tried obfuscate by making various vague claims, and Cleveland explains it exceptionally well.
I’m only going to quote some high points from Cleveland’s column.
In the “discovery update” filed last Tuesday by the special counsel’s office, Durham explained that in mid-December, the OIG provided Durham a written forensic report concerning a “cyber-related matter.”
That forensic report summarized a claim Sussmann had made on behalf of one of his then-unnamed clients to an OIG Special Agent in Charge that, in early 2017, his client “had observed that a specific OIG employee’s computer was ‘seen publicly’ in ‘Internet traffic’ and was connecting to a Virtual Private Network in a foreign country.”
In providing Durham’s team the “forensic report,” the OIG office represented “that it had ‘no other file or other documentation’ relating to this cyber matter.” However, in last week’s discovery update, Durham’s team told the court it later learned from Sussmann’s attorneys that Sussmann had personally met with the DOJ inspector general in March 2017, when he passed on this “tip” to the OIG.
It apparently never occurred to the people inside the OIG trying to hide this face-to-face meeting Sussmann had with Horowitz about this Joffe/VPN business from Durham that Sussmann **himself** might direct his attorneys to blow the whistle about it to the SCO.
It’s hard to see how Sussmann’s attorneys acting on their own without their client’s express consent would make this kind of disclosure to the prosecutors.
This means Sussmann must have seen it as being in his own self-interest to alert the Durham SCO to the fact that the discovery material handed over by the OIG was incomplete.
After learning these additional details, the special counsel’s office contacted the OIG again and then learned for the first time that Sussmann had met not just with the inspector general but also his then-general counsel about the cyber matter involving Joffe’s tip. That follow-up resulted in the OIG providing Durham additional documentation related to Sussmann’s meeting with the OIG office, even though the OIG had previously claimed there was no further documentation related to that incident.
Well…whoops! Turns out there was more there that the OIG just ‘forgot’ to hand over, but hey, it’s all good now, right? I mean, after all, once Sussmann’s lawyers alerted Durham about this, the OIG coughed up the relevant evidence pretty fast, eh?
Well hold that thought for a minute. We’ll come back to that.
What Was The Point Of Sussmann Seeking A Face-To-Face Meeting With Horowitz To Disclose This VPN Claim?
Professor Cleveland has a very good theory about what the former Perkins Coie lawyer may have been up to when he requested and got this heretofore undisclosed personal meeting with Horowitz:
Given that Sussmann shared Joffe’s claim with the inspector general in March 2017—solidly within the new Trump administration’s time in office and during the ongoing Crossfire Hurricane investigation—and given Sussmann and Joffe’s earlier attempt to peddle the anti-Trump Alfa Bank story to the FBI, one must wonder if Sussmann’s handing off of this second “tip” to the OIG was a continuation of the get-Trump project.
That’s certainly an intriguing possibility, that the people who had no problem constructing the Alfa Bank and Steele Dossier hoaxes out of thin air may have been attempting to sell IG Horowitz on a “Russian penetration” of the OIG in order to further their Russian collusion narrative.
The OIG’s ‘Explanation’ of How It Failed To Disclose & Turn Over The Baker Phone Discovery Evidence Last October Is Incredibly Weak
Professor Cleveland is not impressed with the OIG’s wordsmithing “explanation” of how it ended up not directly handing over the Baker phone material last October when the Durham SCO specifically requested all discovery evidence related to the case it is prosecuting against Sussmann.
She sums it up this way:
Here it is important to realize it is not merely that the OIG sat silent knowing Sussmann had been indicted for lying to Baker, but that the OIG kept silent about the two Baker cell phones in its possession during a meeting between special counsel’s prosecution team and IG and OIG personnel on October 7, 2021, called specifically “to discuss discoverable materials that may be in the OIG’s possession.”
The special counsel’s team also later provided the OIG a formal written discovery request seeking relevant documents and records. Yet no one bothered to turn over, or even mention, Baker’s two cellphones?
And what is the OIG’s explanation? That nearly four years earlier, in another case, before Durham was even assigned to investigate the Crossfire Hurricane investigation, cellphones were likely discussed in a meeting Durham attended.
“Oh it was no big deal that we zipped our lips and didn’t say one word about the two Baker phones we were holding when you asked for all the Sussmann discovery evidence last October because hey, we told you about those phones four years back in 2017 at a meeting you attended; you should have brought it up yourself!” sound like a ‘dog ate my homework’ excuse to me.
Was This An Attempted Obstruction of the Durham SCO?
Was this a faction within the OIG trying to hide discovery evidence from the Durham SCO that would have been grounds for a mistrial or appeal in the event the Sussmann case went to trial and Durham got a conviction?
If this stuff about the Sussmann/Horowitz meeting or the Baker phones had never come out at the trial - if one happens after all - it would have meant -through no fault of his own - that Durham had failed to turn over key evidence to Sussmann’s attorneys in pre-trial discovery.
What do you think that would have led to?
I think it would likely have led to a mistrial at the very least. And the issue of if Durham had tried to deliberately hide key discovery evidence from the defense would have been raised - and you just know how the Fake News Media would have run with that. Durham claiming that the OIG had withheld it from him wouldn’t have changed a damn thing. It would have tainted every single other prosecution being pursued by his Special Counsel’s Office.
This is why I believe the Durham Special Counsel’s Office was particularly ruthless in addressing what the OIG did here. A clear message had to be sent to each of the other federal agencies that might try to play hide-the-ball with discovery evidence in future cases that the Special Counsel plans to prosecute: Don’t try it.
I told you. This guy is thorough. He is meticulous. He is exhaustive. You will not fool him. And if he catches you trying to play games with him, God help you.
Was This Just The Usual Turf War Or Was It Something More?
Was this Joffe/OIG employee/VPN/foreign connection claim considered an ‘in-house matter’ that the OIG wanted handled internally and therefore wanted to avoid having to share the particulars with the Durham SCO?
Turf wars between federal agencies are a fact of life within the U.S. government. Even when they should be cooperating, factions within different agencies have different agendas and are not shy about letting interlopers from other agencies know it when they are on their turf. “We’ll show you what we want to show you and nothing more than that.”
That might have explained the OIG people zipping their lips about the Sussmann/Horowitz briefing. But what would the explanation be for zipping their lips about the Baker phones? While the VPN business had to do with an OIG employee, that wasn’t the case the with Baker and his phones. An internal investigation of their own employee can be proffered as a reason for the nondisclosure to the SCO, but Baker wasn’t OIG, he was FBI, so that excuse won’t fly in that instance.
Whatever the reason was for why this happened, it seems to me that Durham just sent a very clear message to all of those currently trapped in the massive scope of his ongoing criminal and national security investigations: If I’ll do this to the OIG, and somebody like Michael Horowitz, who has had a sterling reputation up until now, you’d better think twice about trying to hide something from me.
To support my independent journalism, please make a donation of any size to my Venmo, CashApp or PayPal accounts. :)
And I thank you for your support. :)