In Durham probe, grand jury indicts attorney Michael Sussman with ties to Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign
A federal grand jury in Washington, D.C., has indicted lawyer Michael Sussman for making false statements to the FBI as the bureau investigates an alleged covert communication channel between the Trump Organization and a Russian bank.
The indictment alleges that Sussman, based in Washington, D.C., requested a meeting with the FBI general counsel at FBI headquarters in September 2016 to provide information that allegedly showed secret communications between the Trump Organization and Russian banks. information.
But the U.S. accused Sussman of lying to the FBI general counsel, claiming he did not provide information on behalf of clients. The FBI believed he was acting as a concerned citizen, when in fact, according to the Justice Department, Sussman had collected the information on behalf of clients: Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign and a tech executive. Sussman also previously represented the Democratic National Committee in earlier cyber hacking incidents.
“Sussman’s lies are significant because, among other reasons, Sussman’s false statements misled the FBI General Counsel and other FBI staff about the political nature of their work and deprived the FBI Information capable of more fully assessing and revealing its provenance. Relevant data and technical analysis, including the identities and motives of Sussman’s clients,” the grand jury indictment reads.
Ultimately, the FBI found there was insufficient evidence to support allegations that there were covert communication channels between the Trump Organization and Russian banks.
“Michael Sussman is indicted today because of politics, not facts,” Sussman’s attorney said in a statement. “The special counsel appears to be using this indictment to advance conspiracy theories he chooses to not actually charge. This case goes against everything the Department of Justice is supposed to stand for. Mr. Sussman will fight this baseless political battle – inspired by prosecution.”
The charges were brought by Special Counsel John Durham, who was appointed by former Attorney General Bill Barr in 2019 to investigate the origins of the Russia probe.
Sussman made his first appearance in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia on Friday and was charged with one count of willfully making a false statement. He pleaded not guilty and was released on $100,000 bond. He will hand over his passport, the government will allow him to travel within 50 miles of Washington, D.C. and visit friends and family in New Jersey, and he will hand over his firearm to a government-approved third party.
Sussman will appear in a pretrial interview on Sept. 20 and his next court appearance is Sept. 22 before U.S. District Judge Christopher Cooper.
The indictment also alleges that the cyber researchers working with Sussman were tasked with mining internet data to build a “narrative” linking then-Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump to Russia. The indictment alleges that Sussman, his law firm and technology executives coordinated with the Clinton campaign to do this.
This is Durham’s second indictment in the investigation: In August 2020, he also obtained a guilty plea to one count of false statement from former FBI attorney Kevin Clinesmith. Klein Smith admitted that he tampered with an email submitted to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court as part of a FISA application to spy on Trump campaign aide Carter Page.
Jacob Rosen contributed to this report.
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