FBI’s Handling of Trump–Alfa Bank Allegation ‘Unusual’: Former Agent

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The way the FBI investigated allegations of a secret backchannel between the Trump Organization and Russia-based Alfa-Bank was peculiar in several regards, according to a former FBI agent.

A number of FBI agents and officials took steps that effectively shielded from scrutiny the source of the allegation: operatives tied to the Clinton campaign, according to information that came out during the trial of Michael Sussmann, a lawyer who fed the allegation to the FBI in 2016 while on the campaign’s payroll.

Field agents probing the veracity of the allegation were kept in the dark by their supervisors about its source and prevented from taking steps to seek out and talk to the sources. The field agents found the allegation to be unsubstantiated.

Sussmann obtained the data used to animate the allegation from his client at the time, tech executive Rodney Joffe, who later said he was “tentatively” offered a high-level position in a prospective Clinton administration. Joffe, Sussmann, and others created documents to build a narrative around the data to make the allegation look plausible.

Joffe was an FBI informant at the time, which means he had a handler assigned at the bureau to whom he was supposed to pass any information he had to provide. He didn’t go to his handler, however. Instead, he and Sussmann used personal connections to push the allegation into the bureau.

Keeping Joffe’s name secret, Sussmann gave the information to James Baker, who was the FBI’s top lawyer at the time. Sussmann said he wasn’t representing any client, presenting himself as a good samaritan there to help the FBI. For that, he’s being charged with lying to the government. He has pleaded not guilty and awaits a jury verdict upon the conclusion of his trial.

Unlikely Samaritan

Based on court documents, Baker and possibly others seemed accepting of Sussmann’s supposedly altruistic motive, but it appeared questionable to Marc Ruskin, who spent some 30 years at the FBI in various field and supervisory roles.

During his career, he’s only encountered one source that genuinely helped as a good samaritan, he told The Epoch Times. Usually, informants pursue their own agendas, be it getting paid, lessening their own legal troubles, or damaging rivals.

In any case, agents should examine the source’s motive, he said.

By Petr Svab

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