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Clinton Campaign Spread Alfa Bank Ruse Throughout Obama Admin To Press Trump-Russia Probe

By Paul Sperry for RealClearInvestigations

A Hillary Clinton campaign operation to plant a false rumor about Donald Trump setting up a “secret hotline” to Moscow through a Russian bank was much broader than known and involved multiple U.S. agencies, according to declassified documents and sources briefed on an ongoing criminal investigation of the scheme.

In addition to the FBI, the 2016 Clinton campaign tried to convince the Obama administration’s State Department, Justice Department and Central Intelligence Agency to look into the hoax, and continued pressing the issue even after Trump was inaugurated in January 2017.

Her goal was to cause federal investigation against her Republican opponent and to leak damaging information to the media.

“The Clinton machine flooded the FBI with pressure from a number of angles until investigations of Trump were opened and reopened,” said one of the briefed sources who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss a sensitive law enforcement matter. “The deception was wide-ranging.”

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The FBI’s part was described by Special Counsel John Durham in the felony case against Michael Sussmann. The former Clinton campaign lawyer was charged last month with making a false statement to the former general counsel of the FBI when he claimed he was not working “for any client” in bringing to the FBI’s attention allegations of a secret channel of communication between computer servers in Trump Tower and the Alfa Bank in Russia.

Indictment says that Sussmann was acting for clients, including Clinton Campaign. An unnamed tech executive RCI previously reported as Rodney L. Joffe. Joffe has been a regular advisor to Biden White House in cybersecurity and infrastructure policies.

Internal emails reveal the Clinton operatives knew the links they made between Trump and Russia were “weak,” even describing them as a “red herring,” but fed them to investigators anyway.

Sussmann was indicted for the creation of the Alfa Bank myth. U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia

After Sussmann’s meeting with the FBI in September 2016, the Clinton campaign approached the State Department the following month with the same lead, this time using paid Clinton campaign subcontractor Christopher Steele to feed the rumors. Steele is a British ex-intelligence officer who was meant to provide reliable information that would confirm these rumors. Steele contacted Foggy Bottom on October 11, 2016 to report that his contacts at Foggy bottom had documents claiming that Trump Tower’s hidden server was pinging Moscow.

Two days later, a State official who previously worked under former secretary Clinton funneled the information to the FBI’s then-top Eurasia/Russia counterintelligence official, Stephen Laycock, according to recently declassified notes and testimony. Laycock, in turn, forwarded the information to Peter Strzok, the FBI agent who led the investigation of Trump and his campaign and had just weeks earlier texted a bureau lawyer, “We’ll stop [Trump from being elected].”

“I informed Peter Strzok and another supervisor,” Laycock testified last year in a closed-door Senate hearing.

RELATED: RussiaGate Plotter, FBI Agent Peter Strzok Claims President Is ‘Compromised By The Russians’

Steele, who later confessed he was “desperate” to defeat Trump, was the author of the debunked dossier claiming Trump colluded with Russia to steal the election. He even misspelled the name of the Russian bank as “Alpha.” Still, the FBI took his rumors seriously enough to interview tech vendors working for the Trump Organization and obtain warrants to search Trump Tower servers. Within days of receiving the State Department tip, Strzok also used Steele’s dossier to secure a wiretap on Trump adviser Carter Page.

Jake Sullivan, Clinton’s foreign policy advisor and National Security Adviser would make a written statement praising the Trump-Alfa Bank tale. sharedAfter Slate had reported it, Clinton was elected as the next candidate. Fusion GPS, an opposition research organization in Washington that was paid to work for Clinton as an agent and helped collect dirt on Alfa Bank, draft the material Sussmann later submitted to the FBI. Fusion GPS reportedly asked Slate to publish it. accountFranklin Foer (journalist) is the author.

On the day of the 2016 election, the Clinton campaign emphasized the Trump-Alfa Bank story. Twitter/@HillaryClinton

“This was a highly sophisticated operation using enablers in both the media and federal agencies,” George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley told RealClearInvestigations.

After Trump was elected, Clinton’s campaign continued to fight for its cause.

In mid-November 2016, it enlisted top Justice Department official Bruce Ohr – whose wife, Nellie, worked for Fusion GPS – to add credibility to the Alfa rumors. Ohr informed the FBI in November that Steele told him the Alfa Bank server was linked to Trump’s campaign. Ohr then met the FBI’s case supervisor, who had worked with Strzok at most twice. Declassified notes and other records show that during those meetings, Ohr provided him with thumb drives he had received from paid Clinton opposition researcher and Fusion GPS co-founder, Glenn Simpson, and Ohr’s wife and Simpson’s colleague, Nellie. According to Ohr’s Clinton sources, the backdoor computer channel between Trump & Alfa was true.

After months of investigation, the FBI finally dismissed the claims as unfounded. After the FBI closed the case, Sussmann turned to the nation’s top intelligence agency for assistance, as RCI first reported.

In December 2016, Sussmann called then-CIA Director John Brennan’s general counsel – Caroline Krass – to set up a meeting to brief her about the same Alfa Bank rumors. Krass indicated an interest in the tip. Later, in February 2017, Sussmann and officials from her department met for more than one hour to talk about Trump-Russian bank rumors. Sussmann gave them the most recent versions of materials that he had given to the FBI.

Sources briefed about his case say that the CIA referred the rumors back to Strzok, who was then able to refer them to an FBI liaison. Strzok at the time was the FBI liaison.

According to sources, Durham obtained a CIA memo that documented the meeting with Sussmann. In his grand jury indictment, Durham accused Sussmann of also misleading the CIA, which he referred to only as “Agency-2.” The special counsel alleges that Sussmann, as he did when meeting with an FBI official, had also failed to inform contacts at Langley that he was representing a client – in the latter case specifically Joffe – tied to the Clinton campaign operation and who had been promised a high-level job in a Clinton administration.

Billing the Democrat’s campaign for his work on the “confidential project,” Sussmann recruited Joffe and a team of federal computer contractors to mine proprietary databases containing vast quantities of sensitive, nonpublic Internet data for possible dirt on Trump and his advisers.

Durham’s team obtained over 80,000 pages in documents to respond to grand jury subpoenas that were issued to 15 witnesses and targets, as well as computer contractors. Among others receiving subpoenas: political organizations, private firms, tech companies and other entities, including a major university — Georgia Tech — which allegedly participated in the Clinton conspiracy as a Pentagon contractor.

Sources close to the investigation said that some witnesses were granted immunity and have agreed to cooperate with the prosecution.

“While Sussmann may have hidden his work for the Clinton campaign, this was obviously a useful attack on Trump,” Turley said. “One would expect a CIA official to express reluctance in an investigation that would have a largely domestic focus. But as with the FBI, the Clinton campaign found eager officials to move on any such allegation.”

It is prohibited for the CIA to collect information on American citizens or inside the United States.

“The CIA has no business involving itself in a domestic political issue,” Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton told RCI. “The evidence suggests the primary purpose of the meeting was political.”

Fitton stated that his watchdog organization has requested all records from the CIA based on the contact Sussmann made with them in February 2016 and December 2016.

Requests for comments were not returned by the CIA.

RELATED: Bombshell Report: Durham Seeking To Indict Lawyer With Ties To Clinton For Lying To FBI About Trump-Russia Meeting

Old Clinton hands attempted another point of pressure for good measure. In early February 2017, Clinton’s foreign policy adviser Sullivan huddled with Fusion GPS’s Simpson and Daniel Jones, an FBI analyst-turned-Democrat-operative, to reboot the same smear campaign against Trump. (As RCI previously reported, Sullivan, who spearheaded the campaign’s effort to promote the narrative of a disturbing Trump-Russia relationship via the Alfa Bank story, is under scrutiny for possibly lying to Congress about his role in the operation.)

Jones then reached out his ex-colleagues at FBI who restarted the FBI’s investigation into allegations that Trump had a cyber link with Alfa Bank.

The next month, acting on Jones’ recycled tip, FBI agents visited the offices of the Pennsylvania company that housed the Trump server, which was actually administered by a third-party hotel promotions firm – Cendyn, based in Florida. Their second investigation was a dead end.

Jones claimed that sinister communications were being sent between an alleged Trump server, and Alfa Bank. However, they were actually marketing emails. Also, it is spam.

Sources say it is odd that FBI headquarters continued to pursue the allegations, because internal FBI communications reveal that the bureau’s own cyber sleuths had pooh-poohed them within days of Sussmann’s briefing, RCI has learned.

Strzok had already been briefed about the assessment of materials Sussman left at headquarters Sept. 19, 2016. Strzok received an internal communication on Sept. 23, 2016 from the FBI containing his initial findings after an interview with Cendyn (the Florida marketing company that ran the Trump server).

“Followed up this morning with Central Dynamics [Cendyn] who confirmed that the mail1.trump-email.com domain is an old domain that was set up in approximately 2009 when they were doing business with the Trump Organization that was never used,” according to the message.

Reacting to the Durham indictment, Strzok recently tried to distance himself from the Alfa scandal, insisting in a Lawfare blog: “I had a minor role in the events in question, insofar as I transferred the material Sussman gave to Jim Baker, the FBI’s general counsel at the time, to the personnel who ultimately supervised and looked into the allegations.”

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Echoing other critics, Strzok complained that Durham – who originally was tapped to investigate the origins of the Russia “collusion” investigation by Trump’s Attorney General Bill Barr – is conducting a partisan witch hunt on behalf of Trump.

Strzok’s claims notwithstanding, Barr’s successor, the President Biden-nominated Attorney General Merrick Garland, testified last week that he has renewed funding and staffing for Durham’s far-reaching investigation for the next fiscal year. “[Y]ou can readily assume his budget has been approved,” Garland assured Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee.

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