The attorney general investigating the Justice Department’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election has charged Michael Sussman, an attorney who works with Hillary Clinton’s campaign team, with lying to the FBI. His defense describes it as a baseless political attack.
Department of Justice special prosecutor John Durham and his team of prosecutors accuse Sussman of making a false statement to the FBI five years ago.
The indictment relates to Sussman’s September 19, 2016 meeting with James Baker, then the FBI’s general counsel. Prosecutors accuse Sussman of providing Baker with three “white papers” and data files. It was supposed to indicate possible ties between Russia’s Alpha Bank and the Trump Organization.
Sussman has expressed cybersecurity experts’ concerns about potentially suspicious contacts.
As Reuters noted, President Joe Biden’s administration has allowed Durham to continue his trial as “special counsel.”
The Associated Press writes that Sussman reportedly testified five years ago that he was not acting on behalf of any particular client by providing evidence. According to the plaintiffs, this led Baker to believe that he was acting as a concerned citizen and not as a “learned attorney or political agent”.
The indictment said the fraud “deprived the FBI of information that could allow it to fully assess and discover the origin of critical technical data and analysis, including the identity and motives of Sussman’s agents.”
According to Sussman’s defense, he met with Baker because an article about Alfa Bank was about to be published in the media, and he wanted to give Baker a copy of the material on which this article was to be based. According to the defense attorney, it doesn’t matter who Sussman’s clients are, because the FBI might have taken care of the case anyway.
In the end, the FBI did not find incriminating evidence.
Sussman’s lawyers say their client was accused of “politics, not facts”.
As noted by Reuters news agency, Sussman’s conversation with Baker was not recorded. Baker did not provide any notes, which could make it difficult to convince the jury that Sussman was lying.
In turn, the PA states that the Alfa Bank case was not a central component of the investigation into Russia’s election interference. It wasn’t even mentioned in Robert Mueller’s 448-page report from 2019.
“However, the indictment may feed critics of the investigation in Russia, who consider it a political taint and fired by Democrats,” the PA says.
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