Special counsel John Durham has issued a new round of subpoenas targeting a law firm linked to the 2016 Clinton campaign and the so-called “Russia dossier” compiled by former British spy Christopher Steele.
Last week Durham indicted Michael Sussmann, a lawyer with the firm Perkins Coie, for lying to federal investigators during a September 2016 meeting in which he supplied FBI agents with information claiming a link between the Trump Organization and Alfa Bank, a Russian financial institution. At issue is whether Sussmann was working on behalf of the Hillary Clinton campaign at the time, an allegation he has denied.
Sussmann has been charged with lying to then-top FBI lawyer James Baker when he claimed that the Trump Organization had a secret server that communicated directly with Alfa Bank, which has links to the Russian government.
“The indictment indicates Durham may be expanding his investigation to bring separate charges again Sussmann or additional defendants,” Fox News reported late Thursday.
During Durham’s probe, he uncovered discrepancies between congressional testimony by Sussmann and an interview he had with the FBI. The lawyer told a congressional committee he was working on behalf of Alfa Bank on some project but later told the FBI he was not working for anyone specific at that time.
“Sussmann’s lie was material because, among other reasons, Sussmann’s false statement misled the FBI general counsel and other FBI personnel concerning the political nature of his work and deprived the FBI of information that might have permitted it more fully to assess and uncover the origins of the relevant data and technical analysis, including the identities and motivations of Sussmann’s clients,” says the grand jury’s indictment.
Meanwhile, internal records from Perkins Coie indicate that Sussman was billing the Clinton campaign for time he spent working on the project for Alfa Bank, reports said. The firm’s list of clients at the time included the Democratic National Committee and Clinton’s campaign; the firm hired a research company, Fusion GPS, to produce the dossier, which was ostensibly based on Steele’s since-unverified claims.
“Donald J. Trump and his supporters have long accused Democrats and Perkins Coie — whose political law group, a division separate from Mr. Sussmann’s, represented the party and the Hillary Clinton campaign — of seeking to stoke unfair suspicions about Mr. Trump’s purported ties to Russia,” The New York Times reported last week when Durham indicted Sussmann.
Sussmann’s attorneys, Sean M. Berkowitz and Michael S. Bosworth, say that their client’s indictment is purely political.
“The special counsel appears to be using this indictment to advance a conspiracy theory he has chosen not to actually charge. This case represents the opposite of everything the Department of Justice is supposed to stand for. Mr. Sussmann will fight this baseless and politically-inspired prosecution,” they said in a statement.
Last year, Durham reached a plea deal with a lower-level now-former FBI attorney Kevin Clinesmith on a single count of making a false statement. Clinesmith admitted he changed an email that was submitted to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court in order to secure a warrant to spy on former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page.
Durham was appointed as a special counsel by former Attorney General William Barr in October 2020.
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