2022 – US jury finds former Clinton campaign lawyer not guilty of lying to the FBI

© Reuters. FILE: Attorney Michael Sussman leaves US federal court after opening arguments in his trial in which he is suing Special Counsel John Durham Sussman over allegations that he lied to the FBI during his presentation.

Written by Sarah N. Lynch

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A Washington jury on Tuesday found a former attorney for Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign not guilty of lying to the FBI when it met with the FBI in September 2016 to inform it about possible connections between Donald Trump’s joint business with a Russian bank. The defense team and a government spokesman confirmed to Reuters.

Attorney Michael Sussman’s acquittal came as a slap to Special Counsel John Durham, who was appointed by former Attorney General William Barr during the Trump administration to investigate any errors in the FBI’s investigation into whether the Trump campaign was colluding with Russia.

Sussman was accused of lying to former FBI attorney James Baker at a September 19, 2016 meeting when he said he was not representing clients when he shared technical data and white papers alleging that the Trump Organization was secretly communicating with Russia’s Alpha Bank.

The search was later revealed.

However, Durham’s team claimed that Sussman did indeed represent two clients: Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign and Rodney Joffe, the chief technology officer who personally oversaw the investigation into the now-fake that links Trump to AlphaBank.

The case against Sussman was Durham’s first trial and was seen as a critical test because it was based on a single allegedly false statement made in a room with only two people, neither of whom made notes or a record of the meeting.

Baker, Durham’s main witness at the trial, had given conflicting testimony to Congress and the Justice Department’s Inspector General about whether he remembered Sussman meeting him on behalf of specific clients.

However, Baker testified during the trial that he was “100% confident”. Sussman told him he was not representing clients—a reminder also backed up by a text message Sussman sent him the day before their interview, where Sussman Becker told him, “I’m coming on my own—not on behalf of any client or company.”

During the trial, prosecutors portrayed Sussman, a former partner at the law firm Perkins Coe, as a distinguished high-profile attorney who tried to exploit his political connections by spreading harmful and false information about Trump to support Clinton ahead of the 2016 presidential election.

They said Sussman’s accounting records also showed that he represented the Clinton campaign in the Alpha Bank case.

However, Sussman’s defense team denied he lied to Baker and said he was not directed by the Clinton campaign to share Alfa-Bank’s information with the FBI.

Several witnesses, including former Clinton campaign attorney Mark Elias, testified that Sussman never asked for permission to share information and that doing so was not in the campaign’s interests.

The defense also submitted what appeared to be exculpatory accounting documents, showing that Sussman billed his law firm for his taxi ride to the FBI and not to the Clinton campaign.