Special Counsel Durham Allegedly Seeking to Indict Lawyer at Firm With Ties to 2016 Clinton Campaign
Special Counsel John Durham, who has been looking into the origins of the Trump-Russia probe since April 2019, is reportedly targeting a lawyer from a firm linked to the Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee (DNC).
The New York Times revealed on 15 September that John Durham had told the Justice Department that he would ask a grand jury to indict Michael Sussmann, a partner at Perkins Coie, for making an allegedly false statement to the FBI with regard to his client's identity.
Political law firm Perkins Coie worked on behalf of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and Hillary Clinton campaign while digging dirt on then-presidential contender Donald Trump. On 19 September 2016, Sussmann informed the FBI about his suspicions with regard to the supposed secret ties between Russia’s Alfa Bank and the Trump Organisation.
Breaking: Durham said to seek indictment of Michael Sussmann, a lawyer at firm with Democrat ties, as part of inquiry into Russia probe origins— George Papadopoulos (@GeorgePapa19) September 16, 2021
Sussmann delivered his allegations to then-FBI General Counsel James Baker, who reportedly told the investigators that the lawyer denied that he was acting on someone's behalf. However, while testifying before Congress in 2017, Sussmann claimed that he sought the meeting on behalf of "an unnamed client who was a cybersecurity expert and had helped analyse the data," NYT notes.
In addition to that, Durham has reportedly obtained billing records from Perkins Coie which indicate that Sussmann billed the Clinton 2016 campaign for hours he spent working on the now-debunked theory of Alfa Bank's secret communications with the Trump Organisation.
However, Sussmann’s lawyers, Sean M. Berkowitz and Michael S. Bosworth of Latham & Watkins, told NYT that their client had "committed no crime."
"Any prosecution here would be baseless, unprecedented and an unwarranted deviation from the apolitical and principled way in which the Department of Justice is supposed to do its work," the lawyers said. "We are confident that if Mr. Sussmann is charged, he will prevail at trial and vindicate his good name."
An indictment against the Perkins Coie lawyer "is not a certainty," since "on rare occasions, grand juries decline prosecutors’ requests," according to NYT. Still, Berkowitz and Bosworth acknowledged that they expect Sussmann to be indicted.
Durham has a deadline of this weekend to charge Sussmann because of a five-year statute of limitations, according to the newspaper.
Meanwhile, a legal observer known by his nom de plume Techno Fog has drawn attention to the fact that it was Sussmann who requested CrowdStrike's help in investigating the alleged DNC hack in 2016. Subsequently, CrowdStrike blamed the "breach" on supposed "Russian hackers."
However, CrowdStrike President Shawn Henry admitted under oath in 2017 that the company does not have "concrete evidence" that the alleged "Russian hackers" exfiltrated any data from the servers. Furthermore, Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS), a group of former US intelligence officers from the CIA, the FBI, and the NSA later concluded that the alleged "hack" was nothing but an inside job.
© AP Photo / Andrew HarnikIn this April 3, 2015, photo, intern Jessica Lis works at the Ready for Hillary super PAC offices in Arlington, Va. When Hillary Rodham Clinton announces her presidential campaign, as expected, more than a dozen people in a nondescript office building overlooking the Potomac River will blast out the news by email and social media to millions of her supporters, urging them to sign onto her campaign
In this April 3, 2015, photo, intern Jessica Lis works at the Ready for Hillary super PAC offices in Arlington, Va. When Hillary Rodham Clinton announces her presidential campaign, as expected, more than a dozen people in a nondescript office building overlooking the Potomac River will blast out the news by email and social media to millions of her supporters, urging them to sign onto her campaign
© AP Photo / Andrew Harnik
As of yet, only one individual has been convicted in Durham's Trump-Russia probe: ex-FBI lawyer Kevin Clinesmith pleaded guilty for a felony false statement and was convicted in August 2020. Clinesmith doctored an email about Trump aide Carter Page to conceal the fact that the latter was "a source" for the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).
He did so in order to extend a FISA warrant against Page that allowed the FBI to surveil the aide and his contacts. Conservatives and GOP politicians argued that Clinesmith got a very lenient sentence for his misconduct. The former FBI lawyer received just 12 months probation, 400 hours of community service, and a $100 fine despite government prosecutors insisting on putting him behind bars.
Previously, the New Yorker reported in October 2020 that Durham had summoned a number of individuals involved in the investigation of alleged communications between the Trump Organisation and Alfa Bank to testify before a grand jury. A month earlier, The New York Times wrote that Durham had widened the scope of his investigation, seeking information about the FBI's Clinton Foundation inquiry. According to the newspaper, Durham sought to uncover how law enforcement officials handled the probe into allegations of political corruption at the Clinton Foundation.