Trial of ex-Clinton campaign lawyer in late spring Durham case

Trial of ex-Clinton campaign lawyer in late spring Durham case

  • A federal judge said Michael Sussman could stand trial between mid-May and early June 2022.
  • In the case brought by the Trump-era special counsel, Sussman is accused of lying to the FBI.
  • Defense attorneys pointed to flaws in the case and called for a trial in early May.

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A former attorney for Hillary Clinton’s campaign could face trial in late spring 2022 on charges of the Trump-era special counsel’s probe into the origins of the Russia probe, a federal judge said Wednesday.

Michael Sussmann, a former partner of the Democratic-aligned Perkins Coie firm, was indicted in September on charges he made to the federal government during a 2016 conference on possible links between Russia and Donald Trump. The Bureau of Investigation lied.

Prosecutors working with Special Counsel John Durham allege that Sussman falsely told the FBI’s lead attorney at the time that he did not meet with him on behalf of any clients. Sussman has denied making the remarks to the FBI’s then-general counsel, James Baker, and has pleaded not guilty to a single charge of false representation.

At a court hearing on Wednesday, Judge Christopher “Cathy” Cooper said he expected the trial to begin between mid-May and early June. Cooper, who was appointed by a federal trial court in Washington, D.C., in 2014, said he would order a specific decision after consulting with court officials on scheduling issues related to social distancing precautions and other measures taken in response to the coronavirus pandemic. start date.

Days before Wednesday’s hearing, the Durham team proposed that the trial begin on July 25, and Sussman’s defense attorneys asked for a date nearly three months earlier: May 2. The two sides said on Wednesday they expected the trial to last about two years.

“I certainly understand the defendant’s desire to end this and move on with his life — win, lose or draw,” Cooper said.

Sussman’s indictment and upcoming trial represent some of the public signs of activity in Durham’s investigation for months. Ahead of the 2020 election, then-President Donald Trump repeatedly invoked the Durham investigation and expressed disappointment that it did not taint the Russia probe.

Even after leaving office, Trump asked: “Where is Durham? Is he a real person?”

Then-Attorney General William Barr appointed Durham as special counsel in October 2020. Durham, who served as U.S. attorney in Connecticut during the Trump administration, stepped down in February but served as special counsel during the early months of the Biden administration.

John Durham has been named special counsel to investigate the origins of the Russia probe.AP Photo/Bob Children

Trump’s business and Alpha Bank

In a 2016 meeting with Baker, Sussman relayed an analysis by cybersecurity researchers who believed bizarre internet data showed links to the Trump Organization and Kremlin-linked financial institution Alfa Bank secret communication between servers. Durham’s team claimed that Sussman represented both the Clinton campaign and a technology executive.

But Sussman said through his lawyer that he only represented the tech executive at the 2016 meeting.

In court documents filed Monday, Sussman’s lawyers disclosed evidence recently turned over to them that appeared to help his defense. Evidence includes transcripts of two Justice Department interviews with Baker in which he had different recollections of key points in a September 2016 conversation with Sussman.

In an interview with the Justice Department’s internal watchdog in July 2019, Baker recalled that Sussman provided him with information “that he said was related to strange interactions, some of whom he was a client of, I recall. That’s how he describes it, some kind of cybersecurity expert, has been found.”

Also included in the evidence is a summary prepared by the Durham team for an interview with Baker in July 2020. According to the report, Baker said the question of whether Sussman represented the client was never raised at the 2016 meeting. Baker said he was only assuming that Sussman was not passing Alpha Bank data on behalf of clients.

Sussman’s lawyers said in court filings that the newly revealed evidence “only underscores the baseless and unprecedented nature of this indictment and the importance of setting a speedy trial date so that Mr. Sussman can defend himself as quickly as possible.” .

Legal experts have previously pointed to flaws in Durham’s prosecution of Sussman, that the case revolves around the recollection of one witness: Baker. In 2018, under questioning by the House Judiciary Committee, Baker testified that he could not recall parts of his 2016 meeting with Sussman.

In the 27-page indictment, legal experts saw more detail than was necessary to bring misrepresentation charges. The charging document, seen by some experts as the equivalent of a so-called “oral indictment,” was designed to weave a political narrative about Democrats’ behind-the-scenes attacks on Trump in 2016.

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