Last week, ABC, CBS, and NBC refused to cover on their top morning and evening shows not one but two new and significant happenings in Special Counsel John Durham’s investigation into the origins of the Trump-Russia probe; as not only did a judge deny indicted former Clinton attorney Michael Sussmann’s motion to dismiss, but a new Durham filing alleging the CIA knew Trump-Russia ties were “not plausible” and “user-created” on Trump servers.
The string of bad news for Team Clinton began on Wednesday when Obama-appointed Judge Christopher Cooper denied Sussmann’s motion to dismiss the charge against him for having lied to the FBI about his motivations in alerting the feds in 2016 about supposed ties between then-candidate Donald Trump and Moscow-based Alfa Bank.
Fox & Friends First had 49 seconds on Thursday about the topic split over two identical news briefs from Ashley Strohmier:
An Obama appointed judge is denying former Clinton campaign lawyer Michael Sussmann’s request to dismiss the case against him by Special Counsel John Durham. Sussmann is accused of lying to an FBI agent back in 2016 about his motives for sharing then-candidate Donald Trump possible ties to a Russian bank. Sussmann will stand trial May 16th and faces up to five years in prison.
The Federalist’s Margot Cleveland said Thursday that Cooper “shredded Sussmann’s argument that his ‘tip’ to the FBI was not material,” but “left open the possibility that Durham’s…case may never reach a jury” (click “expand”):
Wednesday’s opinion denying the Motion to Dismiss, shredded several of Sussmann’s arguments, most significantly his assertion “that the materiality of his statement must be assessed only in relation to the FBI’s decision to commence an investigation.” Sussmann had attempted to avoid criminal liability by claiming that because the FBI would have investigated his “tip” no matter what he had told Baker about his clients (or lack of clients), the lie was immaterial.
The court rejected that argument in Wednesday’s opinion, finding it “an overly narrow conception of the applicable statute.” Instead, the court held that controlling circuit precedent establishes that a lie may be material if it “influence[s] the later trajectory of the investigation.”
The court then considered the question of whether Sussmann’s alleged lie to Baker — that he was not representing any client in bringing the Alfa Bank evidence to the FBI — “was in fact capable of influencing either the commencement or the later conduct of the FBI’s investigation.” In addressing this issue, the court summarized Sussmann and the Special Counsel’s respective positions, and, calling the question “hotly disputed,” concluded it could not resolve the dispute prior to trial.
While the trial court denied Sussmann’s Motion to Dismiss, Judge Cooper nonetheless left open the possibility that Durham’s Section 1001 case may never reach a jury[.]
These possibilities are unlikely, though, because the parties’ respective arguments make clear that sufficient evidence exists to support a jury verdict.
Later on Fox News, Sussmann’s legal blow fetched 24 seconds from co-host Bill Hemmer on Thursday’s America’s Newsroom and a 10-second nod on Friday’s Special Report.
The second happening came down late Friday in another Durham court filing. After an allusion to it on the late Friday/early Saturday edition of Fox News @ Night, Fox & Friends Sunday had a full story on the key takeaways.
Correspondent Alexandria Hoff explained how Durham and his team will prove “the CIA concluded that the allegations made prior to the 2016 election involving Donald Trump and a Russian bank were untrue and unsupported.”
Hoff added, quoting from the filing itself and how it tied into February’s bombshell that Team Trump had indeed been surveilled and insnared in a Democratic Party plot (click “expand”):
Durham argued that data necessary — that the data presented is necessary and that the government expects to present evidence that the FBI and, more so, the CIA concluded that the allegations made prior to the 2016 election involving Donald Trump and a Russian bank were untrue and unsupported.
He explained in a filing that while the FBI did not reach what’s called the ultimate conclusion, “agency two,” which is the CIA, “concluded in early 2017 that the Russian Bank-1 data and Russian Phone Provider-1 data was not ‘technically plausible,’ did not ‘withstand technical scrutiny,’ ‘contained gaps,’ ‘conflicting with [itself],’ and was ‘user generated and not machine/tool generated.’ The Special Counsel's office has not reached a definitive conclusion in this regard.”
Now, in February Durham revealed that, at trial, the government would establish that internet data from within a health care provider at Trump Tower and the Office of the President were exploited to create a false narrative against Trump.
Following Hoff’s report, co-host Will Cain said while it’s “a legal filing” and thus a “not yet…proven allegation,” it was still “huge” and worth “pay[ing] attention to.”
This led co-host Rachel Campos-Duffy to twice deem it “massive” and Cain to reply it’s worth covering because “no one else will” and “it will be suppressed.”
The filing came up twice a few hours later on Sunday Morning Futures and then twice on Monday’s Fox & Friends First, once on Fox & Friends (with a full segment from Craig Jarrett), and then a partial segment on America’s Newsroom.
On that last show, former Congressman Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) called it “very significant” given how “difficult” it’s been for even congressional committees to obtain “CIA documents, so the idea that the prosecutor has CIA documents not only is it significant for the one he found, but he’s signaling to the other side, ‘if you don't think I'm going to trial, you have another thing coming[.]’”
For some examples of things they covered instead, Sunday’s Good Morning America on ABC had a brief on cross-dressing singer Harry Styles setting records for new downloads following a performance at the Coachella music festival, Monday’s CBS Mornings worshipped artist Janelle Monáe as she claimed Governor Greg Abbott (R-TX) was erasing LGBT people, and NBC’s Today decided on Saturday to share some earth-shattering news that taking walks outside is beneficial to your health.