Who is Marc Elias, and why is he important for understanding the Russia Hoax? Wikipedia explains it lucidly:
Marc Erik Elias (born February 1, 1969) is an American attorney. He is a partner at the law firm Perkins Coie LLP and head of its Political Law practice. He is the general counsel for Kamala Harris's 2020 presidential campaign. He worked in the same role for Hillary Clinton's 2016 presidential campaign and for John Kerry's 2004 presidential campaign.
He served as lead counsel for Senator Al Franken in the 2008 Minnesota Senate election recount and contest, the longest recount and contest in American history. Elias has testified before committees in both houses of Congress and before the Federal Election Commission on campaign finance. Elias has worked on voting rights and redistricting lawsuits in Virginia, Ohio, Nevada, Minnesota, New York, Wisconsin, Texas, Florida and North Carolina.
In April 2015 Hillary Clinton engaged Elias as attorney of record for her 2016 presidential campaign. According to The Washington Post, in April 2016, Elias hired Fusion GPS on behalf of the Democratic National Committee and the Clinton campaign to complete the research that resulted in the Donald Trump–Russia dossier. ...
Are you getting the picture? You've heard of Super Lawyers? Well, in the legal field of Democrat politics, or simply politics generally, Marc Elias is an 800 lb. gorilla.
We're used to the proposition that the Perkins Coie law firm, attorneys of record for the 2016 HIllary Clinton campaign, was used to launder the money to hire Fusion GPS to "complete the research that resulted in the Donald Trump–Russia dossier."
In his must-read article, Penn brings that up again, but with a very specific twist.
Penn first points out that much of the Stone indictment focuses on supposed obstruction of the Congressional investigation. Specifically, as Byron York reports:
Count Three alleges that Stone lied when he said that Credico was his only "go-between" to Assange, when in fact, Stone was also in contact with Corsi for that purpose. "At no time did Stone identify [Corsi] to [the House] as another individual Stone contacted to serve as a 'go-between,'" the indictment says.
With that in mind, Penn writes:
The indictment reveals that Stone knew absolutely nothing before the initial public drops about what was going on with WikiLeaks. In fact, afterward, he was trying to find out through two of his connections whether WikiLeaks had more material it was going to leak and when it was going to leak that. For reasons that are unclear, Stone hid the name of his second source. Maybe he just promised anonymity to Jerome Corsi, a well-known conspiracy theorist, and was trying to keep that promise.
The important fact here is that whether Stone simply forgot, as he says he did, or was trying to somehow "protect" Corsi in accordance with a promise, the omission of his correspondence with Corsi was of minimal--if any--material importance because the government already had all that information. Please bear in mind in this regard what I recently wrote about the "traditional" approach to false statements, or counter factual statements to give it a more neutral presentation (The Meaning Of The Roger Stone Indictment). Further, neither Stone nor Corsi had any information of value to offer regarding Wikileak's possession of the Podesta emails or even Wikileak's intentions in that regard. Nevertheless, Stone had been a Trump adviser and so Mueller was determined to hammer Stone in an effort to get Stone to "sing"--or, most likely--to "compose" (h/t Alan Dershowitz) regarding Trump.
But then, and very much to the point regarding Marc Elias, Penn adds:
Oddly, around this same time, Glenn Simpson of opposition-research firm Fusion GPS tried to hide (and, for a time, did) the fact that Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party paid for the anti-Trump dossier created by retired British spy Steele. That seems a far more relevant fact to Mueller’s investigation, going to the heart of the credibility of the allegations against Trump — and yet, no handcuffs on him.
It took court action in Britain to get to the truth about the Steele dossier. And note that Simpson stands accused by Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), in a formal Senate criminal referral, of falsely denying that the anti-Trump research project continued after the election and lying about the briefing of reporters on the dossier.
Let’s not forget that the same lawyer who organized the dossier research project sat next to Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta in congressional hearings as Podesta denied knowing the source of the funds. Either Podesta was not truthful here or the lawyer committed an enormous breach of ethics, since he had a conflict as a factual participant and knew the answer. That’s what real obstruction of a material fact looks like but, if you are the “good” guys with good lawyers, you need not sweat it.
I'll paraphrase that, because it's dense but very important. The same Perkins Coie lawyer who organized and paid for the dossier research project through Fusion GPS--a fact that Glenn Simpson tried to hide from the Senate and the House--sat next to John Podesta while John Podesta also (and totally implausibly) denied knowing where the money for the dossier project came from. That, says Penn, is "what real obstruction of a material fact looks like". Because Simpson, Podesta, and the Perkins Coie were hiding information from Congress regarding a material fact that only they knew, and thus really were obstructing an investigation. Further, the material fact only came to light through court action in Britain.
If you're guessing that the Perkins Coie lawyer who sat next to Podesta, representing Podesta in a matter in which that lawyer was himself a factual participant and knew the answers to the questions being asked, I say, if you're guessing that that lawyer was Marc Elias, then you win a hearty handshake and a pat on the back.
What's more, if you're thinking that maybe Elias simply paid Simpson for oppo research and then let others handle the work product, guess again. According to the WaPo:
The Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee helped fund research that resulted in a now-famous dossier containing allegations about President Trump's connections to Russia and possible coordination between his campaign and the Kremlin, people familiar with the matter said.
Marc E. Elias, a lawyer representing the Clinton campaign and the DNC, retained Fusion GPS, a Washington firm, to conduct the research.
After that, Fusion GPS hired dossier author Christopher Steele, a former British intelligence officer with ties to the FBI and the U.S. intelligence community, according to those people, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
Elias and his law firm, Perkins Coie, retained the company in April 2016 on behalf of the Clinton campaign and the DNC. Before that agreement, Fusion GPS's research into Trump was funded by an unknown Republican client during the GOP primary.
The Clinton campaign and the DNC, through the law firm, continued to fund Fusion GPS's research through the end of October 2016, days before Election Day.
Fusion GPS gave Steele's reports and other research documents to Elias, the people familiar with the matter said.
The WaPo wants you to believe that the dossier project was simply a continuation of earlier research that Simpson had done for a GOP client, but that is actually quite unlikely, since Steele wasn't hired until Elias hired Simpson for the Hillary campaign. Further, it doesn't take much imagination to conclude that Elias was coordinating all his efforts with another Perkins Coie lawyer, Michael Sussman (James Baker And Michael Sussman Revisited).
I'll close with a passage from a year old article, The Hypocrisy Watch, that gives further insight into how many pies Elias has his fingers in, and the centrality of Elias to the Russia Hoax:
The payments for the dossier were made by Perkins Coie lawyer, Marc Elias, to Fusion GPS who hired Steele. Elias then sat before Congress alongside his client, Clinton campaign chief John Podesta, as Podesta claimed he knew nothing about such payments.
Democrats in the House heard the testimony. And who is their lawyer? Marc Elias of Perkins Coie, who represents the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.
Democrats in the Senate will review the matter, and who is their lawyer? Marc Elias of Perkins Coie, who represents the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.
The use of Russian ads on Facebook will be part of the hearings. And who has been Facebook’s lawyer to prevent the disclosure of such ads? Marc Elias of Perkins Coie.
Will Elias ever be held to account? Kamala "Kamasutra" Harris clearly doesn't think so and is betting that, even if Elias' efforts didn't come through for Hillary, he may yet prove instrumental in gaining her the White House.