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A John Durham filing spurred the right to claim the Trump White House


This was not tricky to rebut. What Durham submitted to the court was vague in its specifics, alleging that an attorney working for a law firm retained by Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign, Michael Sussman, had been involved with research trying to link Trump to Russia. That research led, among other things, to a meeting with a government agency (understood to be the CIA) in February 2017 and included data collected from White House networks. Those individual pieces were strung together into a claim that Clinton’s campaign spied on Trump’s White House. It’s right there in the document!

But it wasn’t, as a new filing from Durham makes clear both explicitly and implicitly.

It is not overstating things to point out that the narrative above consumed right-wing media and networks this week. Night after night, Fox News hosted guests who somberly discussed this spying on the sitting president. The idea permeated the network’s non-opinion programming as well (recognizing the blurriness of that line). As the network cut away from a Hillary Clinton speech it was airing live on Thursday, the Fox anchor declared that she was speaking even as Durham “continues the investigation into whether or not her campaign was involved in an effort to listen in to President Trump or listen in to candidate Trump.” Just a shrugging and wildly inaccurate assertion about the campaign maybe “listening in” on the sitting president, offered as an aside. A connect-the-dots puzzle showing four points from which Fox News managed to sketch out a dragon.

And then along comes Durham to ruin the fun.

His office was responding to Sussman’s response to his initial filing from last week. (I know that’s confusing to read.) Durham understandably took issue with Sussman’s suggestion that the special counsel had intentionally intended to stoke political anger.

“[D]efense counsel has presumed the Government’s bad faith and asserts that the Special Counsel’s Office intentionally sought to politicize this case, inflame media coverage, and taint the jury pool,” Durham wrote. But, he added later, “[i]f third parties or members of the media have overstated, understated, or otherwise misinterpreted facts contained in the Government’s Motion, that does not in any way undermine the valid reasons for the Government’s inclusion of this information.”

Setting aside the question of intent, let’s focus on the point here. Durham is stating, explicitly, that members of the media may have “overstated” and “misinterpreted” facts included in his filing. This isn’t me, Washington Post guy, saying that his filing sparked an inaccurate narrative. It’s Durham saying that this (might, perhaps, maybe) happened.

It’s important to point out what immediately preceded that “if.” He’d mentioned that stuff about data from the White House being included in the…


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