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Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

John Durham

One of Donald Trump’s Big Lies has just been debunked, no less than by a federal jury. For years, Trump has been claiming that he is the blameless victim of what he derides as the “Russia Russia Russia hoax” – a sinister conspiracy perpetrated by former president Barack Obama and former secretary of state Hillary Clinton as well as a host of other Democrats, aided by shadowy figures in the FBI.

Now America can be certain that this is all untrue because, after days andweeks and months of costly probes and prosecutions, a jury has decisively rejected Trump’s conspiracy claims this week – for the second time. It was a humiliating verdict, with ramifications both domestic and global.

Three years ago, William Barr, then the United States attorney general, appointed John Durham, the US Attorney in Connecticut, as a Justice Department special counsel to investigate Trump’s“hoax” claims against the FBI. The mere announcement of Durham’s appointment immediately lent an undeserved patina of plausibility, at least on Fox News, to the notion that something was very wrong in 2016 when FBI counterintelligence officials opened a file on Trump’s Russia connections. Supposedly, Durham’s investigation would prove it.

Unfortunately for Durham (and Trump), both of the major cases he brought against individuals who blew the whistle on Trump’s disturbing relationship with the Kremlin ended badly.: The first acquittal came five months ago, when a jury rejected charges that an attorney named Michael Sussmann had lied about the identity of his client when reporting his concerns about Trump to the bureau. The second came on October 18, when another jury acquitted Igor Danchenko, charged with lying to the FBI about the sources behind the legendary “dossier” about Trump and Russia assembled by former MI5 agent Christopher Steele. (Durham did win a guilty plea from an FBI lawyer for misrepresenting minor details in an email seeking a surveillance warrant, but that plea resulted in no jail time.)

The jury deliberations in both of these convoluted cases required only hours, not days. When Durham summed up his case to the jury in the Danchenko case by unfurling the “Russia hoax” conspiracy theory, he was rebuked by the judge and silenced.

So, despite millions of dollars spent, with all the resources of the Justice Department behind him, Durham failed to prove any of his big claims. The only thing he established beyond doubt is that his own judgment was seriously flawed. He The prosecutor in the

In the Danchenko case he did contrive, no doubt by mistake, to show that the FBI had very sound reasons to investigate Trump’s Russia ties that had nothing to do with the Steele dossier. When asked by the prosecution why the counterintelligence division opened that case, FBI analyst Brian Auten gave a simple and, truthful answer: The United States had received a reliable tip from a friendly foreign government about a Trump campaign aide who bragged that the Russians had offered to help defeat Hillary Clinton. In that moment, Auten exploded Trump’s outrageously false attacks on the US intelligence and law enforcement, along with the entire rationale for Durham’s snipe hunt.

Why does this still matter? In a world imperiled by Russian aggression, not only its invasion of Ukraine but also its continuing disinformation campaigns against democracies, the resilience and unity of Western governments remain our best defense against an increasingly grim, authoritarian future. At the core of that defense is NATO, an alliance that depends on the steadfastness of the United States. As midterm elections approach, the painstaking effort by President Joe Biden to maintain NATO support to Ukraine against the war criminal Vladimir Putin is under threat from a potential Republican Congress.

Trump’s lies about Russia, which damaged US relations with Ukraine during his presidency, were always designed to conceal his dubious relationship with Putin. He and his semi-fascist MAGA Republicans, who will hold important positions if the Republicans win control, talk about abandoning Ukraine and perhaps wrecking NATO, all in service of the Kremlin. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, the man who would become Speaker, has said that his caucus would reduce or eliminate military aid to Ukraine – a diplomatic disaster of historic dimensions.

In his quest for power, the spineless McCarthy has cast aside his own insight into Donald Trump’s character and loyalty, which he privately disclosed to Republican members in June 2016, when he told them that he believed Putin was paying Trump, and added, “Swear to God.” Trump’s subservience to Putin and his sway over the Republican Party’s “semi-fascist”leadership matter enormously. The real investigations of “Russia Russia Russia” have revealed a grave threat to US and world security – and that threat has not receded an inch.

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