Following Tuesday’s lightning-fast acquittal in John Durham’s case against DNC lawyer Michael Sussmann, some conservatives are starting to profess deep doubt about the foundations of the country’s legal system.
Why is it, they ask, that Democrats get off so easy? Could it be that the entire system is rigged in their favor? Are trials held in the nation’s capital by nature bound to go in favor of the left?
“Four percent of Washington, D.C. voted for Donald Trump,” moaned Matthew Whitaker, the former acting attorney general and onetime hot tub salesman, on Fox News Monday evening.
“This looks more like a jury nullification, where even though the evidence was overwhelming, even though they, the government, proved their case, that the jury just decided that this wasn’t a case worth pursuing,” he continued, articulating a theory shared by many bereft commentators of his political stripes.
Durham has spent three years investigating the origins of the Trump-Russia investigation. He was appointed by Attorney General Bill Barr to do so in May 2019, after the conclusion of the Mueller investigation.
With all that investigating behind him, Durham charged Sussmann in September 2021 with one count of lying to the FBI. He alleged that Sussmann lied about whether, in September 2016, he was providing information about a potential Trump-Russia link to the FBI on behalf of a client.
Durham failed to supply strong evidence to back up the false statements claim, and larded the indictment and subsequent court filings with lurid allegations that the Clinton campaign used Sussmann as a factotum in its larger effort to smear Trump by association with Russia. Trump himself has since spun those same claims into the basis for a civil complaint against the Clinton campaign and others.
The jury deliberated for all of six hours before deciding to acquit in a unanimous verdict. Along with Whitaker, many on the right have now taken to arguing that the result suggests not that the case was flawed, but rather that the whole system should be burned to the ground.
The Federalist’s Mollie Hemingway described the result as an “existential threat to the country,” saying that it represents “two standards of justice, one where friends of the regime can do anything and get off scot-free and one where opponents of the regime will have their lives destroyed for things that friends of the regime can do.”
American Greatness, a MAGA news outlet, published an article on the day of the verdict titled “Clinton’s Plot Came Closer To Succeeding Than January 6 Ever Did.”
The piece mostly attributes Sussmann’s acquittal to “Clinton donors” on the jury, while rehashing the same claims of a grand conspiracy to smear Trump by association with Russia.
But the point is the same: if not our justice, then no justice.
“There’s only one rule in D.C. the Justice Department consistently enforces—all laws and norms exist to preserve and extend the Democratic Party’s monopoly over key institutions,” the article reads. “That’s why the 2016 plotters walk free while the January 6 defendants rot in jail without trial or bail.”
With the acquittal and associated defeat for Durham, it’s far from clear that the special prosecutor will wind down his investigation. National Review published an editorial calling on the probe to continue, arguing that Durham erred in treating the FBI as a victim, and not as part of the Democrat-law enforcement complex that needs to be opposed.
The jury’s forewoman, leaving the courthouse on Tuesday, echoed what many former federal prosecutors have said about the prosecution over the past six months: that the case itself was tendentious, and that the allegation failed to meet the bar for prosecutorial resources.
That being said, the anonymous forewoman argued, the case itself also didn’t meet muster: Durham failed to prove the charge he lodged.
Former President Trump integrated the narrative that Republicans face a two-tiered justice system into his own litany of horrors — another outrage among many, another symbol for an institution not to be trusted.
“Our Legal System is CORRUPT, our Judges (and Justices!) are highly partisan, compromised or just plain scared, our Borders are OPEN, our Elections are Rigged, Inflation is RAMPANT, gas prices and food costs are ‘through the roof,’ our Military ‘Leadership’ is Woke, our Country is going to HELL, and Michael Sussmann is not guilty,” he wrote on TRUTH Social.