H/T to commenter EZ, who pointed me to a tweet by Fool Nelson that pointed me to a New Yorker article by Dexter Filkins--who wrote the original article touting the short lived Alfa Bank - Trump Tower server conspiracy hoax. The article--The Contested Afterlife of the Trump-Alfa Bank Story--begins with a precis of the original hoax. I say "original" because Filkins is suggesting new conspiracy theories that embrace AG Barr and John Durham acting in concert with "the Russians".
Here's the first paragraph, to remind you of the original hoax and to get us started:
Two years ago, I wrote about a mysterious series of computer contacts between the Trump Organization and Alfa Bank, one of the most powerful financial institutions in Russia. For four months, during the summer before the 2016 Presidential election, two servers registered to the bank repeatedly looked up the address of another server, maintained by a mass-marketing firm for the Trump Organization.
Remember, now? There's more to it, of course, but that'll do--my interest is in what the new developments (of which, more below) tell us about what John Durham is up to.
Since late summer the conservatives have been treated to regular explosions of anti-Barr and anti-Durham sentiment. You've seen the kind of stuff I'm talking about: They're Deep State operatives working to bury the evidence and get Trump defeated. People peddling this stuff point to Trump's recent tweet storm, right after returning to the White House after his brief stay chez Walter Reed, in which Trump vented about nobody being arrested, not enough documents being declassified, and et cetera.
I was then and remain now convinced that that was basically political theater for the base. Nevertheless, people whom I previously mistook for serious commentators have taken this cry up in all seriousness. Just last night Fred Fleitz told Lou Dobbs that Durham should have wound up his investigation "a year ago." I guess that tells you all you need to know about what it takes to be a CIA analyst. Or, hey, an FBI analyst, too. I'm agnostic when it comes to analysts--no favorites.
I'm not just trying to beat my own drum, but ... I've been maintaining ever since Barr and Durham set out down this investigative road that they were two serious guys who intended to reach the end--not just offer up a couple of easy indictments. And I've also been maintaining that Barr and Durham are working strenuously to build a "big picture" conspiracy case--a theory of the case that would take in the entire Russia Hoax, not just a few nickel-dime false statement cases divorced from the big picture story. To do that takes time and resources and, unfortunately, is not certain of success. But it's a story that the American people need to have told to them in detail--so that it can't be written off as right wing conspiracy theory.
This is where Filkins article is leading us--confirmation that that's the road that Barr and Durham are on.
The Filkins article itself is another disgrace to what used to be a serious magazine. It's a compilation of innuendo upon innuendo, based on anonymous sourcing but sourcing that's pretty transparently coming from Russia Hoax players with not only axes to grind but asses to cover. Nevertheless, there is some fascinating information to be gleaned.
Here's Filkins' new conspiracy theory, but also the nuggets of real, new information:
Since then [i.e., since the hoax was exposed, almost immediately, in 2016), Alfa Bank’s lawyers in the United States have carried out an aggressive campaign to uncover the identity of the sources [of the original hoax].
Remarkably, Alfa Bank’s legal efforts are proceeding in parallel [OMG, collusion!] with the Justice Department and its allies in the conservative press, who have waged a relentless campaign against American intelligence and the F.B.I. [boo hoo!] for what they describe as a malign effort to concoct a false story about Russia’s efforts to help Trump in 2016. In recent weeks, scientists and others quoted in my story have been summoned to testify to a grand jury impanelled by John Durham, the U.S. attorney appointed by Attorney General William Barr to investigate potential criminal conduct in the Russia probe. ...
See what I mean? Get past the tendentious innuendo and we learn something. But speaking of tendentious innuendo, and to give you a flavor for the entire article, here's how that paragraph ends:
It is unclear whether lawyers for the Justice Department and Alfa Bank are working together, but they share an interest in pursuing people who have investigated Trump’s ties to Russia. “There’s a unity of purpose,” one lawyer involved in the litigation told me.
Gotta luv that. "It is unclear." With not a shred of evidence that DoJ and Alfa actually are "working together." As if DoJ, with the vast investigative authority of the US Government behind it, would need to "work with" Alfa! That's the way the entire article proceeds--read it for a laugh. This is where our elite get their "news."
Filkins proceeds with a main theme for his article, never quite stated, but constantly implied: The facts were so complicated, they were never looked into, we need to get the facts out. Well, maybe not so much. Rather, we need to keep the hoax before the public eye but for goodness sake we need to shut down Alfa's lawsuit because, well, it turns out we don't want the public to know who was actually behind the story in the first place. The facts might somehow leak out!
However, amid all that, Filkins does slip in this sentence:
In 2019, an inspector general examining the origins of Mueller’s investigation wrote, “The FBI investigated whether there were cyber links between the Trump Organization and Alfa Bank, but had concluded by early February 2017 that there were no such links.”
But then he quickly adds that "American officials" (including one who "helped investigate Russian interference") pooh pooh that FBI investigation with vague theories of trying to avoid exposing "an important source and method for intelligence gathering.” As if investigative results can never be classified to protect sources and methods? It's so tiresome and insulting to one's intelligence.
It goes on and on in that vein, with occasional slips. For example, Filkins gives us a glimpse of Alfa's theory of the case, which sounds rather interesting to me--given all that we've seen of Deep State operations in the last four years:
Alfa Bank’s lawyers maintain that the operation was carried out by “a well-trained and well-funded group that existed before the cyberattacks committed against Alfa Bank, continues to exist today, and carries out cyberattacks against a range of targets.” The group’s goal, they say, was “polarizing the U.S. public by pitting the predominant political parties against one another.”
Who would do that?
But let's turn to John Durham's interest in the Alfa Bank hoax. And Filkins has some interesting things to tell us about that.
We've seen that Durham has summoned various people connected to the Alfa Bank hoax before a grand jury--including Daniel Jones:
After college, he worked as a middle school teacher with Teach For America, an AmeriCorps national service program. Jones spent four years with the Federal Bureau of Investigation before joining the United States Senate Select Committee on Intelligence under the leadership of its then-Chairman, Senator Jay Rockefeller. Jones subsequently worked for Senator Dianne Feinstein when she became Chairperson of the United States Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.
To those who pooh pooh the Barr/Durham investigation, I ask: Do you or do you not want Daniel Jones in front of a grand jury? If that squib from Wikipedia isn't enough to pique your interest regarding Jones' involvement with the Alfa Bank hoax, consider what Sean Davis has to say about Jones' activities after the 2016 election:
A declassified congressional report confirms that Daniel Jones, a former intelligence committee staffer for Sen. Dianne Feinstein, hired Fusion GPS and Christopher Steele to push the Russian collusion narrative against Donald Trump.
A declassified congressional report confirms prior reporting by The Federalist that Daniel Jones, a former staffer for Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), hired Fusion GPS and Christopher Steele after the 2016 election to push the anti-Trump Russian collusion narrative.
According to the report, Jones, who runs an investigative outfit called the Penn Quarter Group (PQG), told the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in March of 2017 that he had retained the services of Fusion GPS and Christopher Steele to “continue exposing Russian interference” in the 2016 election. Steele is the former British spy who authored the infamous unverified dossier of allegations against President Donald Trump.
Although Jones’ name is redacted in the report, the biographical details plus previous reporting on the matter make clear that he is the individual referenced. The report also revealed that Jones told federal investigators that he had raised $50 million from “7 to 10 wealthy donors located primarily in New York and California.”
There was big money backing Jones and the scorched earth war on Trump. My suspicion is that any investigation of Jones is going to lead to the fake impeachment. This should tell you a lot about the hysteria directed toward Barr. Check out what Filkins has to say about Barr--after point blank stating that Durham's investigation "could aid the Kremlin":
The lawsuits appear to be receiving some unusual assistance from senior Republican leaders. In July, Barr took the extraordinary step of declassifying investigators’ interview notes with a secret source for the Steele dossier. The source was interviewed by American intelligence officials in 2017, in part because they had also used him as a trusted source. The decision to make his testimony public was driven by Barr’s conviction that the Trump-Russia probe was launched by partisan officials working for the “deep state.”
The source’s identity was blacked out of the notes. ... Within days, a pro-Trump blogger, claiming to have pieced together clues contained in the notes, revealed the source’s identity: Igor Danchenko, a Russian-American political analyst in Washington, D.C.
Danchenko is now at risk. Agents of the Russian state have killed such informants: ....
About two weeks after Danchenko’s unmasking, he received a subpoena from Alfa Bank. “Is Igor Danchenko worried?” his lawyer, Mark E. Schamel, said. “Yes. He fears for his life.”
Well, his lawyer would say that, wouldn't he? Does Filkins have the same tender concern for Carter Page--documentably a CIA/FBI source--that he has for Danchenko, whom the FBI believed was a Russian agent ... until they decided to use his "information" to hoodwink the FISA Court into giving them a FISA against Carter Page and, in effect, the entire Trump campaign? Funny how that works.
However, my main point is easily summarized. If John Durham is subpoenaing non-government Dem operatives with past Deep State ties, like Daniel Jones--people who were closely tied to the Clinton organization as well as to Fusion GPS both before and after--then I say he's going for the big picture conspiracy. The VERY big picture conspiracy.
UPDATE 1: Very nice catch by commenter Unknown. Note the role played by Jake Sullivan--now a close adviser to Biden. And Durham is looking into all this?
Here was Hillary's tweet after the Slate story touting the since-debunked Alfa Bank-Trump Org covert comms channel. pic.twitter.com/BJYX0mpGNd— Chuck Ross (@ChuckRossDC) October 8, 2020
UPDATE 2: I'm afraid I should have taken a bit more time over this post. Commenter EZ has some valuable information below taken from AP reporting. You can find all my posts that discuss Alfa Bank HERE. I draw particular attention to this post: Steele Testified That He Was In Direct Contact With Clinton Lawyers. Here's what this boils down to.
The Alfa Bank hoax "dossier" memo was written up by Christopher Steele at the express direction of Clinton lawyer Michael Sussmann and Fusion GPS founder Glenn Simpson. Sussmann then took the story directly to the FBI--to a friend of his, James Baker, who happened to be FBI General Counsel, i.e., Comey's top lawyer. Knowing Sussmann as he did, Baker also knew that this hoax story was coming straight from the Clinton campaign. Add that background to the involvement of Daniel Jones and Jake Sullivan in the Alfa Bank hoax (see above), along with the fact that James Baker has long been believed to be cooperating with Durham and we come to this: Durham's conspiracy net is attempting to catch some of the biggest fish in the Dem hierarchy, central figures in both the Clinton and now the Biden campaigns.
So, yes, the Durham investigation can be confirmed to be sprawling. Or, maybe make that SPRAWLING.
UPDATE 3: Chuck Ross has an article on this (see his tweet above) that contains some useful links to the background: Report: Durham Using Grand Jury To Investigate Debunked Trump-Russia Allegation. Obviously, you don't use a grand jury to investigate a debunked allegation. You use a grand jury to investigate factual situations that you believe involved criminal violations. Durham very clearly believes he's on to something. Proving it may be another thing, but he thinks the effort is worthwhile.