Lawyer whose firm represented Clinton campaign indicted by special counsel investigating Russia probe
Credit to ABC News/Alexander Mallin
A lawyer whose firm represented Hillary Clinton’s campaign during the 2016 presidential election was indicted Thursday by special counsel John Durham on a single charge of making a false statement to the FBI.
Michael Sussmann, an attorney for the Perkins Coie law firm who previously represented the Democratic National Committee following the hacking of its servers by Russia during the 2016 campaign, is accused of lying “about the capacity in which he was providing allegations to the FBI” when he met with a top lawyer from the bureau in September 2016 and provided him information about potential ties between a Russian bank and computer servers in the Trump Organization.
“Specifically, SUSSMANN state falsely that he was not doing his work on the aforementioned allegations “for any client,” which led the FBI General Counsel (James A. Baker) to understand that SUSSMANN was acting as a good citizen merely passing along information, not as a paid advocate or political operative,” prosecutors write in the indictment.
They allege instead that Sussmamn intentionally misled the FBI general counsel because he was acting at the time on behalf of an unnamed tech executive, an “U.S. internet company” and Hillary Clinton’s Presidential Campaign.
Prior to his indictment Thursday, Sussmann’s attorneys provided a statement to ABC News maintaining his innocence.
“Mr. Sussmann has committed no crime,” attorneys Sean Berkowitz and Michael Bosworth of the law firm Latham and Watkins said. “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.”
“We are confident that if Mr. Sussmann is charged, he will prevail at trial and vindicate his good name,” they added.
Durham was appointed by former Attorney General William Barr in May 2019 to investigate allegations of misconduct by members of the FBI and the intelligence community in their investigation of potential ties between Russia and former President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign for the presidency. Before his resignation, Barr appointed Durham as special counsel extending his tenure into the Biden administration.
While Durham’s probe has long since lapsed the total duration of former special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, prior to Thursday he had yielded only one indictment against a lower-level FBI lawyer who admitted to doctoring an email used in seeking surveillance against a former aide to Trump’s campaign. That lawyer, Kevin Clinesmith, was sentenced to probation earlier this year.
Durham has been tasked with creating a report outlining his findings, though it will be up to Attorney General Merrick Garland to determine whether to make those findings public. Garland has said publicly he has no intention of interfering in Durham’s work.