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tv   Washington Journal Jeff Mordock  CSPAN  May 28, 2022 1:37am-2:11am EDT

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speeches from friday's n.r.a. convention in houston, former president donald trump is among those addressing attendees. that's this saturday on c-span. and a reminder, all these programs and more are available for you to watch on the go any time with c-span now, our free video app. congressional sessions, hearings, speeches and ar kiefl footage all yours with c-span now. jeff moore doc is here, he is with the washington times reporter. here to talk about the durham investigation. let's begin with, what is this investigation, who is the special clout -- special counsel leading it? guest: the former u.s. attorney in connecticut, the top federal prosecutor in that state. he has a reputation for doing big cases, heated cases where he looked into the mafia in
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connecticut. he has worked with the fbi in a lot of investigations he has a lot of expense. former attorney general william barr appointed him. we had the three year anniversary of this probe this month. what is interesting about this probe, he has gone -- it has gone on longer than the special counsel mueller procured we have seen less people indicted, far less activity out of the durham pro. guest: what was he told to do? host: to look into the fbi and other u.s. intelligence agencies handle the investigation into president trump's alleged ties to russia ahead of the 2016 election. he has pretty wide variety where he can look into whatever pops up. in 2019 to 2019 -- 2020, he was going overseas, following
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investigations, tips where they lead. we have seen some indictments that have come out of him. we do not know if more is coming out. what he has been doing is looking at how largely the fbi, but also the cia and other agencies, what they did when they were apprised of the allegations there might collusion between the trump campaign and russia. host: how has he gone about this investigation? how would you characterize it? guest: methodically. he has been methodical in the case that he has built against michael sussman. as i said earlier, we have approached the three year mark. in that period, we have had three indictments. that has drawn a lot of criticism from both sides. you have conservatives and trump allies wondering what he is doing, why hasn't he caught bigger fish than the people he has indicted? why haven't we learned more about with the clinton campaign was doing to spread anti-trump
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information? why haven't we learned more about what the fbi did with that information? at the same time, you have liberals and those opposed to trump saying, what is he doing? he has only indicted three people, most of them are pretty low profile. is this just a hunt against people who opposed president trump ahead of the 2016 election, and is this a political witchhunt? the sussman case is going to be the verdict on that. if sussman -- if durham does not get a guilty plea here, i think you will see calls from those on the left to merrick garland shut this probe down. guest: here is your headline in today's washington times. defense rests without sussman taking witness stand. who is michael sussman? guest: michael sussman was a private attorney with perkins q. week, the law firm that was doing the legal work for the
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clinton campaign ahead of the 2016 election. he was one of the top lawyers for the clinton campaign, him and mark -- mark elias. what durham has alleged is, in 2016, september 2016, weeks away from that presidential election, michael sussman went to the fbi and told fbi top lawyer james baker that he was not representing a client. he was not doing this on behalf of any client when he brought anti-trump allegations, linking president trump to a russian back. since then, those claims have been debunked thoroughly. the fbi looked into it and concluded they were meritless, special counsel robert moeller concluded it was meritless. when he was testifying before congress, moeller was asked about the alpha bank allegations. he said as far as he knew, there was no evidence to back these allegations up. host: he goes to -- michael
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sussman goes to this fbi agent, says he has this evidence, but says he is not representing a client. what does the fbi agent do with that information? guest: it was the fbi's top lawyer, james baker. he had a personal relationship with sussman. that raises an interesting question. james baker is not an agent. he is not an investigator. he is not -- he talked about this when he was on the stand, trained to ask michael sussman questions. he did not know how to handle a tip when it was brought into him. he was there to advise the fbi on legal matters. with privacy rights and issues like that. he is not somebody you would think he would bring a tip like this to. james baker, the first thing he does is pass it along to fbi agents and top fbi officials. host: when james baker was asked, if you had known that
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michael sussman was representing the hillary clinton campaign, what would you have done? what did he say? guest: he said he would not have taken the meeting, he said he would've passed them along to the agent. at that point, the fbi had opened an investigation into hillary clinton's use of a private imo server. that investigation -- he would've passed this information onto those agents. those agents would've added it to their own clinton investigation. they were the ones who -- with experience with the clinton campaign, the trump campaign. he would've passed it along to those agents. they would not have taken the meeting. that goes to the point that durham is trying to make, that sussman has lied -- he is a lessening -- alleging he has lied, the fbi used taxpayer resources, taxpayer money to launch this investigation into
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allegations that were completely false. host: did the hillary clinton campaign know that michael sussman was going to do this? guest: that is at the center of this trial. durham has alleged in an indictment that this was part of a joint enter by the clinton campaign, they spurred him to go on and meet with the fbi. we have had several witnesses from the clinton campaign testified that the last thing they wanted to do was go to the fbi. they felt the fbi had been unfair to them. robbie wu who was clinton's former campaign chairman, said that the two to three worst a's of the campaign were caused by the fbi and jim call me reopening the server investigation, not anything donald trump had done. they said the last thing. the other thing they had pointed out, they fear they hadn't gone to the fbi, they would have shut it down. the clinton campaign would have preferred going to the media with these allegations, they thought the media would have give them favorable treatment.
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if the fbi hadn't concluded the stuff was false, that would have been the end of these this allegations paid one of the big bombshells we have had in this trial, while he was on the stand, robbie luke testified that hillary clinton herself approved taking to the alpha bank allegations to the media, even though they didn't know if it was true at that time. host: what is michael sussman's defense? guest: he did not lie. his ties to the clinton campaign were well known to the fbi, well known to the fbi at large. and that it wasn't. . the fbi has an ongoing investigation into trump's ties to russia, this was another extension to it. it was wrapped up. host: this is one indictment. what are the other two indictments? guest: we have had him indict
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kevin klein's men who pleaded guilty in august of 2020 per he is a low level fbi lawyer, when he -- what he pleaded guilty to was doctoring evidence to justify the surveillance of a trump campaign associate carter page. the fbi was submitting information to the pfizer court to wiretap carter page. one of the things you need to do, pfizer court is a court that approves wiretap and surveillance for people deemed to be a security threat to the united states. it is a secret court. it is not late -- like the federal court in d.c., where we can see the proceedings. we do not know what is going on in the pfizer court. the subject of the wiretap corporation does not have subject to argue, the court has to rely on exculpatory information. what kevin kleinsmith pleaded guilty to, part of the scope of tory information was that carter page had been working as a
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confidential source for the cia. he changed the document to say that carter page was not a source for the cia, which raises questions to carter pages credibility. what it does, it raises questions about it. had he been a source, it would have shown the government found him credible, the cia would have done their due diligence on carter page and found the allegations against him were not true. kevin kleinsmith pleaded guilty, got probation and low license suspended for a year. that guilty plea has generated criticism from both sides, because as i said earlier, you have wanted republican to go higher up in the fbi than this low-level lawyer who got probation and is now back practicing law. democrats thought this was a waste of time, he is a low-level
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guy, why is durham hassling him? host: when he pleaded guilty, what did he say? guest: he said his motivation, at that time, he believed the information was -- saying he was a source was wrong, that is why he changed it. when he said that, a lot of people had called for maybe reviewing the case, calling for the judge not to accept his guilty plea. the federal judge down here did not seem like he had in issue with that guilty plea. it stood. host: last indictment, then we will get to calls. guest: e court in checo was a key source for the steel dossier. ditching go was a russian analyst working for the brookings institute, he provided a lot of the material for the steel dossier, which have -- the claims have either been debunked or not proven at this point. the steel dossier is important, the fbi used it as part, not
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entirely, to secure the wiretap on carter page. what durham alleges, he exaggerated, falsified or completely made up some of the allegations, including the most salacious one in the steel dossier, which alleges that president trump had liaison with russian prostitutes in a moscow hotel. what durham is saying, that information came from a clinton pr executive who was a big part of hillary clinton's 2008 campaign, and had close ties with the clinton's. he was the virginia chairman of bill clinton's campaign in 1992 and 1996. durham is alleging that he has passed along a lot of this information. he has denied that, but durham is alleging he passed that information along to him and he put into the report. he is charged with lying to the fbi, durham says he did not
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reveal the source of where his information was to the fbi. the other thing he allegedly lied to the fbi about, was he said the president of the russian-american chamber of commerce was a key source for a lot of the anti-trump hurt he came up with. sir jay malan says he never spoke to him, he reached out to him, he emailed him called them, he never returned those calls. host: we will turn to calls. steve in maryland, democratic color. good morning. go ahead. caller: it is hard to sue american institutions from the fbi, to the cia, down the list we go. what it leads to, some of our foreign politicians, such as the
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clinton's, we are not going to do anything for the clinton's, now are we? we are not going to put them in jail. no, we are not. i hope when the time comes, i get the same type of justice that seems -- i think they call people who have lots of money, if you have lots of money, you can make wonderful things happen. in the judicial system. host: let's pick up on your point, will the special counsel go after the clinton's? guest: we haven't seen the an appetite. that is what republicans want, what they are hoping for. we have not seen it. to give durham credit, with the sussman case, a guy that is tied to the clinton campaign, we did get a lot of inner workings and bombshells about the clinton campaign and their effort to put unverified, antitrust allegations that were untrue out
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there for us consumption by the voters. host: was it picked up by the media? guest: yes. slate magazine ran an article about it a couple of weeks after the clinton campaign had disclosed it. one of the issues that has come up in the sussman trial is that sussman and a tech executive named ronnie joffe, who had task internet researchers to tie trump associates to russia had been trying to get eric little out, a pulitzer prize national security correspondent for the new york times, to write the story. durham alleges lithgow had held onto the story, it was not published at the timetable they wanted. that is what spurred sussman to go to the fbi. host: billy in crockett, texas. independent. caller: good morning. i would like to say the clinton's arc great people.
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i look at people like former president trump, he is the guy running on a lot of misinformation and telling lies to the people. he has statements in the media that are following him. trying to attack president clinton and hillary, she did a great job when she was running for president and when he was the president. it was the people that were anti-america in america, a lot of the people who did not like black people or other people who didn't have money, they went against president clinton. i want to say that president clinton and hillary were great people, just like our president we got now. joe biden is a great man. host: let's go to paul in arizona. democratic caller. caller: good morning. the most used word i hear from this settlement is alleged. nearly every time he mentioned somebody or something, some
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accusation is alleged. i have been reading over the testimony, the building aspect where you say that sussman lied. he says you did not lie. one of durham's own paralegals says that the billing was correct, he did not build the clinton campaign for some of the things durham is alleging. at first, that he did. it comes out in the testimony that they actually did not, he billed the proper authorities when he was doing the investigation. alleged seems to be everything. durham doesn't have anything but allegations. host: let's take your point. guest: what we have seen so far in this trial is that michael sussman billed the clinton campaign for three hours on the day he met with james baker of the fbi. that bill says for confidential
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server issue, that is what the alpha bank allegation was, that trump organization internet servers were communicating -- allegedly communicating with alpha bank. now, we know they are not. that is what the clinton campaign, that is in his billing where he met with joffrey, he referred to it as a confidential project or server issue on the billing. that is what we have on the billing. he met with james baker for an hour. the bill is for three hours. it does not specify fbi, that is something defense attorneys have seized upon. when he has met with the fbi and billed the client, usually in the billing record, there is something for the fbi. this does not say that. i think that is when we have closing arguments down the road in a couple of minutes, that is something the defense attorneys are going to seize upon. one other point i would like to
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make that i think is interesting, i think to some degree, this austral was -- bolsters durham's case, prosecutors found a staples store receipt for flash drives that cost $12 that he expensed to the clinton campaign. what defense attorneys are saying, he bought a bunch of flash drives. he expensed two to the clinton campaign. he game -- gave james baker two flash drives with allegations on them. i view it a lot of ways, staples received two be stronger evidence than the billing statement that durham has entered into evidence. host: closing remarks are today, then what? guest: after closing remarks, it goes to a jury. it will be interesting to see how long the jury takes. judge cooper has to be somewhere because it is memorial day weekend. he has to leave at 2:30. closing arguments are going to
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take an hour and a half for each side. we start at 9:00, take breaks, i do not know how much time the jury is going to have to deliberate. yesterday, judge cooper said the jury could deliberate after he leaves. that doesn't make sense to me. if they have a question, they need to consult with them, he is not available. at the same time, i do not know which side that helps to have errors deliberate all over the memorial day weekend. you've got three days of them sitting around after hearing closing arguments. i am sure a lot of these jurors have memorial day plans. d.c. is a hyper-partisan, political town. they are not supposed to consume media. news outlets are talking about it. it is out there. it is going to be hard for them to go three days this week and without seeing media, having to
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put down the newspaper. host: kelly ann, florida, republican. caller: i am not a republican. i called on the independent line. i have things to say. i have to ask, why c-span is using a right wing extremist radical like the washington times to give this story, and not have a counterbalance to a more moderate side? all roads with trump lead to putin. third thing is, if anyone wants to dig in deeper, they can read the actual mueller report, and see there were ties with trump's campaign to russia, and
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[indiscernible] host: we will talk about that last point. guest: that was an independent call. i want to defend my paper. i didn't appreciate my comments at the beginning. our paper has always been fair. we had a caller earlier not like the fact i was using the word alleged, that points to the fairness of our paper and how we have covered this. i do not think her criticism of my paper was fair. i wanted to make that defense. host: she made the point, all roads from trump lead to russia, look at the mueller report. guest: the mueller report has found ties between trump and russia, but concluded that there was no evidence that president trump or his campaign come spire with russia -- conspire with russia to influence the 2016 election at all. host: what happens next with the
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durham probe? has he indicated where he will go next with it, or the person he is investigating? guest: we do not know. one of the things that has plagued the molar investigation, there were constant leaks. some were true, some were not. this investigation has been leak proof. we have had three years of people trying to figure out what is going on with it. even president trump himself was complaining about the investigation. it is interesting how trump handled this investigation towards the end of his presidency and last year, he issued a statement asking if durham was an alive person, he hadn't seen activity on the probe. with these two indictments with sussman and jango, he is singing durham's praises, calling him an amazing investigator. where he is going to go, we do not know. he is facing issues. a lot of these alleged crimes, a
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lot of the possible misconduct he is looking at happened in 2016. we are hitting the statute of limitation for a lot of this. if you look at the carter page fisa, there is a lot of misconduct surrounding that. the final two the justice department inspector general faulted, if durham wants to bring charges, i do not know if he does or does not, the first statute of limitations was that -- was passed in april. the second was in june. the clock is ticking on that. it is the end of june if he wants to do something about that. host: maryland, democratic caller. caller: my question is, it sounds to me like the majority of this investigation, as well as the indictments, with the exception of the legal conflicts or challenges with the fbi, the
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investigations and indictment are surrounding misinformation put into the campaign against the trump campaign. it's not misinformation, what was the trump campaign and presidency? i do not mean that to be flippant, but what are we doing here if we are investigating misinformation, are there equal or more opportunities to investigate misinformation on both sides? i am confused as to what we are chasing here. guest: what we are chasing here is whether or not people committed a crime in their effort to get misinformation out there. did they deceive the fbi when they were getting this false information about alpha bank out there?
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to what lengths were they going to get there -- this out here, and were there any laws violated to get this out to the public? host: are there any other names a part of this investigation? guest: one of the names is jake sullivan. jake sullivan was the top foreign advisor for the clinton campaign. he is the top national security advisor for the biden administration. he has been in the crosshairs of conservatives for a while, especially after afghanistan and the withdrawal there. what has come out in this trial and before the sussman trial, he had put out a statement saying to the effect that it is only a matter of time before the fbi starts looking into the trump alpha bank allegations. he put out a statement, i believe it was on halloween before the election in 2016,
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promoting the alpha bank allegations. there is a lot of of people in conservative media who want room to take a look at jake sullivan's role in promoting this allegation, the fact it was debunked. we will see. if durham does decide to go down that road, it is going to be interesting. that is going to be the closest durham gets to the biden white house and is going to ramp up pressure from the white house on attorney general merrick garland shut this down. the other point i want to make, garland can -- merrick garland can fire john durham, but he has to do so and -- in writing and specify the specific cause. it is weird being a special counsel, you report to the justice department, and you do not. you do not really report to the justice department, but if
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merrick garland wants to to explain steps or know why he is approving a warrant or subpoena, you have to explain that to him. there is oversight. you are sort of on your own, but there is justice department oversight. guest: host: what about the steel dossier? guest: i do not know if we have learned much more than we did before. we knew a lot of this stuff was under verified. we are several years out of its use for the fbi, these claims have still not been verified. we know more about how some of the unverified claims and allegations that have been disproven have ended up in the steel dossier, we will learn more about that in the dick cheney go case, which goes to trial in october. the sussman case issue went into the inner workings of the clinton campaign. we have had two clinton officials testify,
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their testimony was interesting. dichenko seems like it was trying to give steel what it wanted. falsified this allegation on his own. he did not have ties to the clinton campaign. he did not work with the fbi. this is the trial for anybody who wants dylan more about the fbi and the clinton pam -- campaign. host: the michael sussman case, closing remarks today. there could be a verdict today or next week. steve in richmond, maine. republican. caller: hello. i have a question about the jury instructions. i was following the trial via the robert, i think his name is, he has been reading the transcripts.
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it sounds like the instructions to the jury includes a way to give the jury a way out, where they can say that he didn't knowingly do it. you have any comments on that? what the -- guest: judge cooper told him not to consider a text message sussman sent after the fbi alerted james baker, saying he was not meeting with him on behalf of any client. that does hurt the prosecution's case. it makes it harder, because now, the jurors have to do -- have to rely on what baker says sussman told him in that meeting. nobody else was in the meeting, james baker is not an investigator. he did not take notes. it has his word versus michael sussman's word. that is going to be a problem for the prosecution.
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host: are you covering the verdict? guest: yes, i will be covering closing arguments later today. host: will you be tweeting about it? the twitter for jeff is @jeff mordock.
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washington journal continues. host: charlie sykes is with us this morning, founder and editor at large of the bulwark, a news and opinion website. he is the author of how the right lost its mind. esther sykes, you wrote after the school shooting at the texas elementary school that this is a time for grief and also for incandescent anger. what did you mean? guest:

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