To paraphrase Ronald Reagan, really smart people sometimes know a lot of things that are not so.

And to paraphrase Mark Twain, a lie can get its own show on MSNBC before the truth can get its pants on.

Special counsel John Durham’s grand jury has just indicted one of the lawyers who worked for Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign, Michael Sussman, for lying to the FBI. Durham was up against a five-year statute of limitations for that particular crime, and he got it in just ahead of the deadline. The single count was explained at length in a 27-page document that exposes the entire “Trump-Russia” narrative to be a completely concocted political dirty trick.

Sussman was a partner in the Perkins Coie law firm, which represented the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee. He played a key role in pushing out a false narrative in a manner engineered to unleash federal agencies and the national press against Donald Trump. This guaranteed that the fully fabricated story would dominate the news until at least half the country was convinced that the New York real estate mogul had secret and dangerous ties to Russia.

The person responsible for the plan was Hillary Clinton, and if you have a sense of humor and a long memory, you’ll love this: the evidence that she did this is in the law firm’s billing records.

If you don’t have a long memory, Hillary Clinton’s own law firm billing records were once sought by investigators looking into a failed savings and loan with ties to the Clintons. “Missing and under subpoena for two years, they turned up in January 1996 in the Clintons’ private quarters at the White House,” the Washington Post summarized in a special report titled, “Untangling Whitewater.”

Karma. It’s so slow.

Michael Sussman’s meticulous billing records at the Perkins Coie law firm documented hours billed to the Clinton campaign for, among other things, a meeting with the FBI at which Sussman asserted that he was not representing any client. He said he was merely a citizen who wanted to inform law enforcement of non-public records of internet traffic showing a connection between a computer linked to the Trump Organization and Russia-based Alfa Bank.

The information was false. The indictment spells out the process by which a tech executive with access to non-public records of internet traffic pressured researchers to write false reports about links that didn’t really exist. The executive was hoping for a job in Hillary Clinton’s administration. The researchers were unwilling to cross the high-level tech executive.

Sussman’s detailed billing records also show that he charged the Clinton campaign for meetings with journalists, at which he leaked that the FBI was investigating the Trump Organization for links to Russia.

Sussman’s meeting with the FBI’s top lawyer, James Baker, took place on September 19, 2016. Every story about “Trump-Russia” from that moment on, everything you think you know about links between Putin’s regime and the Trump Organization, Trump campaign or Trump family is based on the lies cooked up by the Hillary Clinton campaign with the help of the Perkins Coie law firm and various cybersecurity experts who were seeking favor or fearing for their jobs.

As Gertrude Stein famously said about Oakland, there is no there there.

The journalism profession should do a clean-up on this story and try to undo the misinformation that has spewed across screens and front pages since 2016. It’s no service to readers to place the story of the Sussman indictment on page 12. The charge against Sussman for meeting with the FBI and concealing that he was representing the Clinton campaign is equivalent in political scandal terms to Alexander Butterfield revealing that there was a taping system in Richard Nixon’s White House.

We first learned last October that President Obama was briefed by CIA director John Brennan on July 28, 2016, about intelligence reports suggesting that Hillary Clinton was planning to tie Donald Trump to Russia in order to distract the public from her use of a private email server. According to Brennan’s handwritten notes, declassified by Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe, intelligence reports alleged that Hillary Clinton had approved “a proposal from one of her foreign policy advisers to vilify Donald Trump by stirring up a scandal claiming interference by the Russian security service.”

Her mistake was hiring a law firm to do the dirty work. Those billing records, they’ll kill you.

The completely false perception by a large segment of the public that Trump has ties to Russia will be hard to dislodge, especially when major newspapers that rushed to page one with suggestive stories sourced to unnamed officials later relegate the exonerating stories to the back pages.

How many voters made decisions based on the false belief that Trump was some kind of a foreign agent and lying about it? What’s the consequence of that?

Elections based on lies cannot be said to express the consent of the governed. They’re just force by another name.

It’s another case of “what you know is just not so.”

Write Susan Shelley: [email protected] and follow her on Twitter: @Susan_Shelley.


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