At this point we have to consider that the Durham counter-probe into the FBI's Crossfire Hurricane probe of Trump-Russia collusion is actually an op run by the Good Guys and not by Trump's merry band of dipshits, simply because the staggering incompetence of Durham's actual legal maneuvers over the last four years has now resulted in Durham yelling at his own trial witness in public for making his own case far, far worse in the trial of Steele Dossier source Igor Danchenko.
The special counsel opened his case with testimony from Brian Auten, a senior FBI intelligence analyst who oversaw part of the FBI’s early investigation into possible Trump-Russia collusion.
Over two days, Auten helped prosecutors by saying there was information that Danchenko didn’t share with the FBI about his dossier sourcing that would’ve aided the bureau’s investigation. This is a key element of Durham’s case: to secure a conviction, Durham must persuade the jury that Danchenko intentionally lied and that those false statements may have impacted the FBI’s work.
The witness also put a spotlight on some of Danchenko’s inconsistencies in his many FBI interviews, where he was peppered with questions about his ties to Christopher Steele, the dossier, and his own sub-sources.
But the situation shifted when the defense got to cross-examine Auten. Danchenko’s lawyers highlighted Auten’s previous testimony, given years ago to the Justice Department inspector general and to the Senate Judiciary Committee, which contradicted some of Durham’s claims.
Auten previously said Danchenko was “truthful” and “assisted” the Russia probe. He also said securing Danchenko as an FBI source was “one of the best things that came out of” the Russia probe. This undercuts the core of Durham’s indictment, which alleged that Danchenko serially lied to the FBI and impeded the investigators who were scrambling to verify the Steele dossier.
Danchenko’s defense attorney, Danny Onorato, asked Auten in court on Wednesday if that was still his belief today, and Auten answered in the affirmative, adding, “I stand by my testimony.”
The defense also elicited testimony indicating that Durham cherry-picked material from an FBI memo that Auten wrote, when there was exculpatory information on the very next page.
“And Mr. Durham didn’t take any steps to correct your wrong answer, did he?” Onorato asked.
After Onorato finished, Durham returned for a final round of questioning, but the tone completely changed. Durham and Auten sparred for over an hour. Durham sounded angry at times, and many of Auten’s responses were adversarial, clearly not giving Durham the answers that fit his narrative.
Durham brought up the previously unknown fact that Auten was “recommended for suspension” by the FBI’s internal auditors. Auten acknowledged the recommendation, which he said is under appeal. Lawyers often bring up a witness’ past misconduct or punishments as a way to attack their credibility – but in this case, it was the prosecutor seemingly impeaching his own witness.
“You’re going to be suspended,” Durham said in one of his questions, “because you won’t admit your involvement” in the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or FISA, process.
The special counsel then rebuked Auten for saying earlier that George Papadopoulos was a “high-level adviser” to Trump’s 2016 campaign. Durham accurately noted that Papadopoulos was a low-level aide, just 28 years old at the time, and still included his Model UN experience from college on his resume.
Later, Durham tried to get Auten to agree that the FBI was more alarmed about Papadopoulos’ ties to the Middle East than his ties to Russia. Auten wouldn’t go there and called it a “both/and” situation. The spat had little to do with Danchenko’s alleged false statements about the dossier.
Auten punched Durham's case in the nuts and then fought with Durham for an hour. This can't be real, it's too TV drama to be a real federal case. This has to be an op of some sort, or maybe Occam's Razor and Durham is just that much of a dumbass.
Either way as Marcy Wheeler points out, Durham has sabotaged his own prosecution.
Steele (and therefore Danchenko) was first paid to dig up dirt on Paul Manafort by Oleg Deripaska, someone working to get Trump elected, and in fact one of the most important new details of this exchange is that Danchenko prefaced it by referencing asking someone much earlier, in May — possibly during the time when Deripaska was still paying the tab — for dirt on Manafort. With regards to Manafort, it’s not clear Danchenko would have reason to distinguish between the two projects paying to develop dirt (and he didn’t know precisely who was paying either time). He wanted dirt and the record shows that even someone closely tied to Manafort, Deripaska, was willing to pay for that dirt.
In any case, Durham makes a materiality claim that it was really important for the FBI to know Dolan’s partisan leanings.Q. But for the FBI’s purposes in evaluating 105, Government’s Exhibit 112, was of significance this reportedly was coming from, quote, an American political figure associated with Donald Trump and his campaign, closed quote?
A. Yes, that was important.
Q. So with respect, then, to that information, that person that was providing the information, was Donald — was Charles Dolan, would that be import to you?
A. Yes, that would be of import.
Later, to play up the import of Dolan’s politics, Durham again misreads the dossier and in the process, misstates his entire case. He implies that the FBI, in assessing Report 105 — which was entirely unimportant to any investigative developments but is Durham’s single piece of evidence that the Steele dossier was sourced to Democrats — should have known that a source described as “an American political figure associated with Donald TRUMP and his campaign” was actually a Democrat.
Q. And would it be of import to you that Mr. Dolan was not somebody who was an American political figure associated with Donald Trump and his campaign but, in fact, was a Democratic operative for a long period of time? Would that have been significant to you?
A. Yes, we were interested in all of the —
A. — sources.
Q. So if you knew that that was the case, it wasn’t some Republican insider or some associate of Donald Trump’s, what, if any, impact did that have on your evaluation of the validity and credibility of the information that’s being conveyed in these dossier reports?
A. Well, it helps — it would have helped to understand kind of accuracy and things of that sort for the dossier reports.
Except that, once again, that’s not what the sourcing indicates. If Durham’s allegations are correct and this came from Dolan, it amounts to Danchenko sourcing something Dolan attributed to a Republican friend of his. If this claim is inaccurate, it’s not because Danchenko lied, it’s because Dolan did.
That is, Durham’s problem isn’t that Dolan is a Democrat. It’s that Dolan — his own witness — is an admitted fabricator.
And John Durham is trying so hard to invent partisanship rather than Russian rat-fuckery, that he doesn’t understand he’s impugning his source, not Danchenko.
If I'm right Durham understands completely that he's impugning his source. The question is why.