The Hillary Clinton campaign in 2016 hired an internet company to falsely establish links between former President Donald Trump and Russia using data mining and other spying, surveillance which would continue at the Executive Office Building adjacent to the White House after Trump won the election and took office in 2017, according to a court filing by Special Counsel John Durham.
And it has, in part, helped bring the U.S. and Russia closer to war than we’ve been since at least the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962 and the 1983 Soviet false nuclear alarm incident, where an early warning satellite system incorrectly alerted the USSR that the U.S. had launched a preemptive nuclear strike. In the latter case, fortunately Stanislav Petrov, the Soviet officer on duty at the time monitoring the Russian early warning system, concluded it was a computer error and did not report it up the chain of command, which would have resulted in a retaliatory nuclear strike.
Today, the hotspot is Ukraine, and President Joe Biden and Western intelligence agencies are warning the world that Russia could invade any minute to intervene in the civil war there. So far, there appears little hope of a diplomatic breakthrough, and it is hard not to point to Clinton’s fake Russiagate allegations partly as a catalyst for poisoning U.S.-Russian relations.
At first, the allegations served a political purpose. In 2016, it was a talking point. Trump was campaigning on improving relations with Russia. Clinton was under FBI investigation for storing classified emails on a private home server, raising concerns that Russia and China had leverage on her.
So, Clinton upped the ante. The fake Trump-Russia allegations would neutralize Clinton’s political negatives on the FBI investigation email server and potentially being compromised.
Per Durham, the information was cultivated by the internet company for distribution to the Clinton campaign, whose attorneys at Perkins Coie, including Michael Sussman passed along to the CIA and the FBI. In September, Durham indicted Sussman for providing false information to the FBI and for lying about his association with the Clinton campaign. The company was tasked with “min[ing] Internet data to establish ‘an inference’ and ‘narrative’ tying then-candidate Trump to Russia… [in order] to please certain ‘VIPs,’ referring to individuals at [Perkins Coie] and the Clinton Campaign.”
The transfer of the intelligence to the Justice Department would then be used to produce headlines of an FBI investigation into a Trump-Russia conspiracy to steal the election, stories that were published by Michael Isikoff, David Corn and others in Sept. and Oct. 2016.
After Trump won the election and was sworn into office, the DNC sought to exploit federal contracts the internet company had with the executive branch in order to spy on the White House. Per Durham: “Internet Company-1, had come to access and maintain dedicated servers for the EOP [Executive Office of the President] as part of a sensitive arrangement whereby it provided DNS resolution services to the EOP. Tech Executive-1 and his associates exploited this arrangement by mining the EOP’s DNS traffic and other data for the purpose of gathering derogatory information about Donald Trump.”
This is Watergate times 1,000: Bugging a presidential campaign both before and after the election, and then carrying on the surveillance into the White House itself, all to establish a false “narrative” and “inference” that Trump was actually a Manchurian Candidate who Moscow controlled. It is almost beyond belief.
Sussman had told the CIA that, per Durham, who was appointed in 2020 by former Attorney General William Barr, that “these [DNS] lookups demonstrated that Trump and/or his associates were using supposedly rare, Russian-made wireless phones in the vicinity of the White House and other locations,” another apparently false claim which the Justice Department upon investigation found “no support for these allegations.”
Sussman has also been tied to Clinton campaign efforts to hire Fusion GPS and former British spy Christopher Steele to falsely make links between Trump and Russia, and to hire Crowdstrike to investigate the alleged Russian hack of the DNC servers in 2016.
Suffice to say, the information provided by the Clinton campaign led directly to the Justice Department’s top-secret investigation of the Trump campaign in 2016, which was carried over into the Trump administration in 2017, led to the recusal of former Attorney General Jeff Sessions, the firing of former FBI director James Comey and then the appointment of former Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who ultimately exonerated Trump of any plot with Russia.
The Mueller report stated, “[T]he investigation did not establish that members of the Trump Campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities,” and “the evidence does not establish that the President was involved in an underlying crime related to Russian election interference.”
And, in the meantime, U.S-Russian relations went to hell in a handbasket. In 2019, the U.S. withdrew from the 1987 Intermediate Nuclear Forces Treaty, the same year the House impeached Trump for considering conditioning military aid to Ukraine. The Senate found Trump not guilty after a brief trial.
On their own, the Clinton campaign’s Trump-Russia allegations were conspiratorial nonsense that might have been best reserved for obscure internet forums on the dark web. The fact they were seriously pursued by U.S. intelligence agencies and then the Justice Department was what made them incredibly dangerous geopolitically.
For four years, we did not have a president who could talk to Russia. Not really. Clinton saw to that. Military aid to Ukraine was off the table, too.
What crucial, top-level talks might have been had without the Russiagate hysteria? Could peace have been made between Ukraine and Russia? Could treaties between the U.S. and Russia prohibiting nuclear proliferation been strengthened instead of abandoned?
Biden’s own hands in helping to spark the civil war in Ukraine in 2013 and 2014 when he was Vice President — Biden wrote in his book about pushing former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych out of power to get a European Union trade agreement ratified — could make it more difficult to reach an accord that avoids war.
We’ll never know the counterfactual. In the end, if this does come to war, future historians might point to Hillary Clinton’s ambitions to be president at any cost — including her willingness to cynically let the world falsely believe her opponent was a Russian agent, even if it risked nuclear war — as a root cause. We almost elected a monster.
Robert Romano is the Vice President of Public Policy at Americans for Limited Government Foundation.
Cross-posted with The Daily Torch
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