Lawyer who advised Clinton campaign indicted in Trump-Russia inquiry
WASHINGTON, Sept. 16 (Reuters) – A cybersecurity attorney known for his work as an advisor to Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign was charged on Thursday with lying to the FBI as part of the investigation by the US Special Advocate John Durham on the Origins of the FBI Investigation into Russia’s Links to Former President Donald Trump’s Campaign.
Michael Sussmann, a former partner of Perkins Coie who also represented the Democratic National Committee and the Clinton campaign in Russia’s hack of the organization, is accused of making false statements at a meeting on September 19, 2016 with former FBI General Counsel James Baker. .
This is the second criminal case Durham has filed since former Attorney General William Barr called him in 2019 to investigate US officials who investigated Trump-Russia contacts. Trump, a Republican, described the 2016 FBI investigation as part of a witch hunt.
President Joe Biden’s administration has enabled Durham to continue his work as a special adviser.
Indictment accuses Sussmann of falsely telling Baker he was not representing any clients when he met him to hand over white papers and other data files to the FBI with evidence of questionable cybernetic links between the Trump organization and a Russian-based bank.
The indictment alleges that Sussmann disclosed this information not as a “good citizen” but as a lawyer representing a US tech executive, an internet company and the Clinton presidential campaign.
Sussmann “will fight this baseless and politically inspired lawsuit,” his lawyers, Sean Berkowitz and Michael Bosworth, said in a statement.
Sussmann organized the meeting on behalf of a cyber-expert client, the statement said. “Mr Sussmann met Mr Baker because he and his client believed the information raised national security concerns,” he said.
“Basically, the special counsel is laying an accusation of misrepresentation on the basis of an oral statement allegedly made five years ago to a single witness who is neither recorded nor observed by anyone else,” the lawyers said.
Sussmann, who had been on leave from Perkins Coie, resigned from the cabinet Thursday “in order to focus on his legal defense,” a cabinet spokesperson said in a statement.
The indictment says the tech executive client who helped put together the data Sussmann presented to the FBI had “exploited his access to non-public data at several internet companies to conduct opposition research regarding Trump “.
The FBI investigated, but ultimately concluded that there was insufficient evidence of a “secret communication channel” between the Trump organization and the bank, which was identified in the reports as Alfa Bank.
The bank was not named in the indictment.
The New York Times then reported on the FBI’s investigation into the Alfa Bank-Trump connection in October 2016 – an investigation which the indictment says was triggered following Sussmann’s meeting in September. 2016 with Baker.
The indictment alleges that other documents Sussmann turned over to the FBI included a document prepared by an investigative company.
The indictment does not identify the company, but a source close to the events told Reuters it was Fusion GPS, the Washington-based company that hired former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele to conduct opposition research on Trump on behalf of the Clinton campaign.
Steele then produced a controversial 35-page “brief” purporting to describe Trump’s ties and relations with Russia and the Russians.
A spokesperson for Fusion GPS declined to comment, as did Steele. Neither has been charged with wrongdoing.
Reporting by Sarah N. Lynch; Additional reporting by Mark Hosenball; Editing by David Gregorio and Peter Cooney
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