Truth continues to be uncovered in the trial of Michael Sussmann, a lawyer who peddled false intelligence regarding the existence of a Trump-Russia backchannel server to the FBI. Specifically at question is Sussmann’s involvement with the Hillary Clinton campaign regarding his “tip,” and the extent to which legal procedure was ignored in the FBI’s “Russian collusion” investigations.
A grand jury convened by Special Counsel John Durham (appointed by then-Attorney General William Barr to investigate the roots of the Trump-Russia investigation) indicted Michael Sussmann on one count of lying to the FBI in September 2021. The prosecution alleges that Sussmann, who has pleaded not guilty, lied to FBI general counsel James Baker about his involvement with the Clinton campaign.
Specifically, Sussmann claimed he wasn’t working for any client during his meeting with Baker. The Clinton lawyer’s billing records, prosecutors argue, contradict this claim, demonstrating that Sussmann’s law firm billed “Hillary for America” $800 an hour for the September 2016 meeting.
“What’s clear is the evidence against Sussmann is overwhelming,” attorney and George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley said in an interview on Fox News.
In spite of this evidence, Turley raised doubts about the odds of a Sussmann conviction.
“For John Durham, I think the impression that, short of having Chelsea Clinton on the jury, I couldn't be doing much worse in terms of a jury pool,” Turley said, citing the presence of three Hillary Clinton donors and a juror whose child plays on the same soccer team as Sussmann’s daughter in the jury.
Nevertheless, recent eye-opening testimonies during the trial may upend the defense’s case.
On May 20th, Clinton 2016 campaign manager Robby Mook testified that, after Sussmann turned over the opposition research to the FBI, Hillary Clinton herself greenlit the decision to plant the backchannel server claims with Slate Magazine. After the story was published, Clinton boosters, including now-National Security Advisor (NSA) Jake Sullivan, coordinated to promote the false claim online.
In other damning testimony, FBI agent Curtis Heide testified on Tuesday that, according to a colleague, FBI top brass was so "fired up" about beginning an investigation that deciding against doing so would not have been an option. Per his testimony, Heide himself is being internally investigated for withholding evidence in a probe likely focusing on Trump campaign volunteer Carter Page.
The defense rested their case Thursday, and closing arguments in the trial are expected Friday.