Clinton 2016 campaign lawyer acquitted of lying to the FBI

May 30, 2022, 9:21 PM | Updated: Jun 1, 2022, 11:56 am
Michael Sussmann, a cybersecurity lawyer who represented the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign ...

Michael Sussmann, a cybersecurity lawyer who represented the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign in 2016, walks towards the waiting members of the media outside the federal courthouse in Washington, Tuesday, May 31, 2022. Sussmann was acquitted Tuesday of lying to the FBI when he pushed information meant to cast suspicions on Donald Trump and Russia in the run-up to the 2016 election. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

(AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

WASHINGTON (AP) — A lawyer for Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign was acquitted Tuesday of lying to the FBI when he pushed information meant to cast suspicions on Donald Trump and Russia in the run-up to that year’s election.

The case against Michael Sussmann was the first courtroom test of special counsel John Durham since his appointment three years ago to search for government misconduct during the investigation into potential ties between Russia and Trump’s 2016 campaign.

The verdict marks a clear setback for Durham’s work, especially since Trump supporters have looked to the probe to expose what they contend was egregious bias by law enforcement officials who investigated the ex-president’s campaign. The outcome is likely to hasten questions about the purpose of the inquiry and its cost to taxpayers, especially since the three criminal cases Durham has brought so far have fallen short of establishing any sort of sweeping conspiracy to frame Trump or derail his candidacy.

The jury deliberated for several hours Friday afternoon and Tuesday morning before reaching its verdict.

Speaking to reporters outside the courthouse after the verdict was delivered, Sussmann said he “told the truth to the FBI, and the jury clearly recognized that with their unanimous verdict today.”

He added, “Despite being falsely accused, I am relieved that justice ultimately prevailed in this case.”

In a separate statement, Durham said that though he and his team were disappointed in the outcome, they respected the jury’s decision. He thanked the investigators and prosecutors on his team for their “dedicated efforts in seeking truth and justice in this case.”

The trial focused on a narrow issue: whether Sussmann, a cybersecurity attorney and former federal prosecutor himself, concealed from the FBI that he was representing Clinton’s campaign when he passed along computer data that he said showed a possible secret communication backchannel between Russia-based Alfa Bank and Trump’s business company, the Trump Organization.

The FBI, which was already investigating potential collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, examined the data but quickly determined that there was no suspicious computer contact.

The FBI’s then-general counsel and the government’s star witness, James Baker, testified that he was “100% confident ” that Sussmann had told him he was not representing any client during a September 2016 meeting the two men had.

Prosecutors alleged Sussmann was actually acting on behalf of the Clinton campaign and another client, a technology executive, and that he hid that information to make the data seem more credible and to boost the chances of getting the FBI to investigate. They pointed to a text message Sussmann sent to Baker the night before the meeting in which he requested a sit-down and said he’d be coming on his own and not on behalf of any client.

Lawyers for Sussmann denied to jurors that he lied, saying it was impossible to know with certainty what he told Baker in the meeting since they were the only participants and neither of them took notes.

They argued that though Sussmann legally represented the Clinton campaign, he didn’t attend the meeting on the campaign’s behalf and hadn’t asked the FBI to take any action to benefit the campaign. They elicited testimony from former campaign officials who said Sussmann had not been authorized by the campaign to visit the FBI.

And they said that even if he did make a false statement, it was ultimately irrelevant since the FBI was already investigating Russia and the Trump campaign and, given the urgency of that probe, would have looked into the Alfa Bank data no matter the source.

Sussmann’s lawyers, Sean Berkowitz and Michael Bosworth, said in a statement that Sussmann should never have been charged in the first place.

“This is a case of extraordinary prosecutorial overreach. And we believe that today’s verdict sends an unmistakable message to anyone who cares to listen: politics is no substitute for evidence, and politics has no place in our system of justice,” the lawyers said.

During the two-week trial, jurors heard from a slew of witnesses, including current and former FBI officials who described efforts to assess the legitimacy of the Alfa Bank data, ex-Clinton campaign aides and lawyers and colleagues and friends of Sussmann who vouched for his character.

Jurors were instructed to put politics aside, but Trump’s supporters took note of the fact that the jury pool was taken from heavily Democratic Washington. The former president wrote on his social media platform that the legal system was “corrupt” and referenced the acquittal as one of several examples of “our country going to HELL.”

The original Trump-Russia investigation, overseen for two years by former special counsel Robert Mueller, found multiple efforts by Russia to interfere on the Trump campaign’s behalf but did not establish that the two sides had worked together to sway the outcome of the election.

After Mueller’s work was done, then-Attorney General William Barr named a new Justice Department prosecutor, then-Connecticut U.S. Attorney Durham, to examine whether anyone from the FBI or other agencies violated the law as the government opened its investigation into Russian election interference and the Trump campaign.

Durham has brought three criminal cases so far, though only one has been against a federal government employee — and none have undone the core findings of Mueller’s investigation. The Alfa Bank matter, for instance, was peripheral to the Trump-Russia probe, with the since-discredited allegations not even warranting a mention in Mueller’s 448-page report.

A former FBI lawyer, Kevin Clinesmith, was given probation after pleading guilty in 2020 to altering an email related to secret surveillance of an ex-Trump campaign aide, and a Russian analyst, Igor Danchenko, who contributed to a dossier of Democratic-funded research into ties between Russia and Trump awaits trial this October on charges of lying to the FBI about his sources of information.

____

Follow Eric Tucker on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/etuckerAP

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Yasir al-Rumayyan, the governor of Saudi Arabia's sovereign wealth fund, known as the Public Invest...
Associated Press

Saudi Arabia’s triumphant week reclaims the West’s embrace

NEW YORK (AP) — Saudi Arabia appears to be leaving behind the stream of negative coverage that the killing of Jamal Khashoggi elicited since 2018. The kingdom is once again being enthusiastically welcomed back into polite and powerful society, and it is no longer as frowned upon to seek Saudi investments or accept their favor. […]
15 hours ago
A model of the house where a precision counterterrorism operation killed al-Qaida's leader Ayman al...
Associated Press

CIA unveils model of al-Qaida leader al-Zawahri’s hideout

MCLEAN, Virginia (AP) — The CIA revealed on Saturday the model of a safe house used to brief President Joe Biden about the whereabouts of al-Qaida leader Ayman al-Zawahri before it killed him in a drone strike in Afghanistan. Shortly after al-Zawahri’s death, White House officials released a photo showing Biden talking to CIA Director […]
15 hours ago
Associated Press

Opposition leads in 1st round of Czech Senate election

PRAGUE (AP) — The major opposition party in the Czech Republic appeared to be leading Saturday in the first round of elections for one-third of the seats in Parliament’s upper house, the Senate. With ballots from more than 95% of ballot stations counted, the centrist ANO movement led by former Prime Minister Andrej Babis had […]
15 hours ago
Arizona Secretary of State Latie Hobbs, left, the Democratic nominee for governor, and Kris Mayes, ...
Associated Press

GOP quiet as Arizona Democrats condemn abortion ruling

PHOENIX (AP) — Arizona Democrats vowed Saturday to fight for women’s rights after a court reinstated a law first enacted during the Civil War that bans abortion in nearly all circumstances, looking to capitalize on an issue they hope will have a major impact on the midterm elections. Republican candidates were silent a day after […]
15 hours ago
Andy Huynh, left, and Alex Drueke, far right, are seen hugging their loved ones after arriving at B...
Associated Press

‘We got our miracle’: Freed Americans back home in Alabama

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) — Two U.S. military veterans who disappeared three months ago while fighting with Ukrainian forces against Russia arrived home to Alabama on Saturday, greeted by hugs, cheers and tears of joy at the state’s main airport. Alex Drueke, 40, and Andy Huynh, 27, had gone missing June 9 in the Kharkiv region […]
15 hours ago
Foreign Minister of India Subrahmanyam Jaishankar addresses the 77th session of the United Nations ...
Associated Press

India stays neutral on Ukraine war, previews G-20 term at UN

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — India’s foreign minister laid out the country’s plans for its turn at the G-20 presidency during his speech Saturday in front of the U.N. General Assembly. India assumes the mantle of the consortium of leading developed and developing nations in December. Subramanyam Jaishankar said India’s approach would be “based on principles […]
15 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
Work at Zum Services...

Seattle Public Schools announces three-year contract with Zum

Seattle Public Schools just announced a three-year contract with a brand-new company to the Pacific Northwest to assist with their student transportation: Zum.
Swedish Cyberknife 900x506...

June is Men’s Health Month: Here’s Why It’s Important To Speak About Your Health

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, men in the United States, on average, die five years earlier than women.
...

Anacortes – A Must Visit Summertime Destination

While Anacortes is certainly on the way to the San Juan Islands (SJI), it is not just a destination to get to the ferry… Anacortes is a destination in and of itself!
...

Ready for your 2022 Alaskan Adventure with Celebrity Cruises?

Celebrity Cruises SPONSORED — A round-trip Alaska cruise from Seattle is an amazing treat for you and a loved one. Not only are you able to see and explore some of the most incredible and visually appealing natural sights on the planet, but you’re also able to relax and re-energize while aboard a luxury cruise […]
Clinton 2016 campaign lawyer acquitted of lying to the FBI