Politics Durham seeks indictment against lawyer at Steele dossier-linked law firm over Alfa Bank matter: Report
Forty-four Republican senators demand Durham report be made public
A group of 44 Republican senators is demanding that the report by special counsel John Durham be made public once it is complete, days after news surfaced that it will likely be finished in the coming months.Lawmakers, including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), penned a letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland on Thursday requesting an update on the status of Durham's review, dubbed theLawmakers, including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.
Special counsel John Durham reportedly seeks a grand jury indictment against Michael Sussmann, a cybersecurity lawyer at a Democratic-allied law firm closely linked to British ex-spy Christopher Steele’s discredited dossier.
The charge is said to be related to an alleged false statement to the FBI about a client's identity when Sussmann pushed now-debunked claims about secret communications between Russia’s Alfa Bank and the Trump Organization in the lead-up to the 2016 presidential election.
Durham “has told the Justice Department that he will ask a grand jury to indict a prominent cybersecurity lawyer on a charge of making a false statement to the FBI,” the New York Timeson Wednesday, citing “people familiar with the matter.”
Jake Sullivan pushed Alfa Bank claim at center of Durham’s possible indictment
Jake Sullivan, already in the hot seat as President Joe Biden’s national security adviser amid the Afghanistan fallout, could find himself under further scrutiny for his 2016 role in promoting a Trump-Russia collusion claim at the heart of a possible indictment by special counsel John Durham. © Provided by Washington Examiner Durham is reportedly seeking a grand jury indictment against Michael Sussmann, a cybersecurity lawyer at Perkins Coie, a Democratic-allied law firm linked to British ex-spy Christopher Steele’s discredited dossier.
The report said Durham’s case against Sussmann, who works at the powerhouse Perkins Coie law firm, “centers on the question of whom his client was when he conveyed certain suspicions” about former President Donald Trump and Russia to then-FBI General Counsel James Baker in September 2016.
Sussmann “relayed data and analysis from cybersecurity researchers who thought that odd internet data might be evidence of a covert communications channel” during the meeting with Baker, the report said.
Durham has until the weekend to charge Sussmann because of a five-year statute of limitations. Neither Durham nor the Justice Department has commented on the report as of press time. Sussmann has denied wrongdoing.
Baker testified in 2018 that Sussman, a former DOJ colleague of his, shared the Alfa Bank claims with him during a September 2016 meeting. Notes from DOJ official Bruce Ohr’s December 2016 meeting with Glenn Simpson show the Fusion GPS co-founder said the New York Times was wrong to doubt the story that Alfa Bank and the Trump Organization were communicating through secret servers.
Lawyer who allegedly advised Clinton campaign charged with lying to FBI in tip about possible Trump-Russia bank link
The indictment of Michael Sussmann relates to a tip he gave the FBI in 2016, when Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton competed for the White House.Federal prosecutors say the lawyer, Perkins Coie law firm partner Michael Sussmann, lied when he offered a tip that same year about the possible secret electronic channel between former President Donald Trump's company and a Russian bank.
DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitzthe Justice Department and the FBI in December of 2019 for at least 17 “significant errors and omissions” to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act warrants against Trump campaign associate Carter Page in 2016 and 2017 and for the bureau's reliance on Steele’s dossier.
This followed the release of special counsel Robert Mueller's report on the Russia investigation in April of that year.
Muellerhis “identified numerous links between the Russian government and the Trump campaign” but "did not establish that members of the Trump campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities.”
In his December 2019, Horowitz the FBI "concluded by early February 2017 that there were no such links” between Alfa Bank and the Trump Organization. A Senate Intelligence Committee did not find "covert communications between Alfa Bank and Trump Organization personnel."
Durham prosecution rests on shaky legal ground
The case recalls that of D.C. lawyer Gregory Craig, who was eventually acquitted on a similar charge.Getting a Washington jury to convict Sussmann could be far harder, judging by a case with significant parallels: the 2019 prosecution of former Obama White House counsel Greg Craig.
Robby Mook, Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign manager, saidhe authorized Marc Elias — who, until recently, headed Perkins Coie’s political law group and started his own firm this summer — to hire an outside firm to dig up dirt on Trump’s connections with in 2016. Mook said Elias received information from Fusion GPS about the research into Trump and Russia in 2016, and Elias periodically briefed the Clinton campaign.
Sussman is reportedly the source for news stories in 2016 about alleged secretive server claims.
The New York Times reported, “Sussmann’s lawyers have told the Justice Department that he sought the meeting because he and the cybersecurity researchers believed that the New York Times was on the verge of publishing an article about the Alfa Bank data and he wanted to give the FBI a heads-up." However, the outlet said that “in fact” it “was not ready to run that article, but published one mentioning Alfa Bank six weeks later” — justthe 2016 election.
Durham found an “inconsistency” in Sussmann’s story, according to the New York Times report, which added that Baker “is said to have told investigators that he recalled [Sussmann] saying that he was not meeting him on behalf of any client.”
Clinton lawyer's indictment reveals 'bag of tricks'
The indictment seems to have revealed quite a bit about how scandals are manufactured and manipulated in Washington. From CREEP to Clinton, lawyers discovered themselves in legal jeopardy when special prosecutors found them holding a "bag of tricks." A dirty trick in politics can be a thing of beauty for a campaign - until it boomerangs on the tricksters.Durham's final report, meanwhile, could answer even more questions, but will Washington ever allow it to see the light of day without massive redactions?Jonathan Turley is the Shapiro Professor of Public Interest Law at George Washington University.
However, Sussmannto the House Intelligence Committee in December 2017 that he had sought out the FBI meeting on behalf of an unnamed alleged cybersecurity expert client.
During that deposition, Sussmann indicated his client was not the Clinton campaign or the co-founders of Fusion GPS.
Durham also obtained “internal billing records” from Perkins Coie that show when Sussmann “logged certain hours as working on the Alfa Bank matter” — though not the Baker meeting — “he billed the time” to Clinton’s 2016 campaign, the news report said.
“Mr. Sussmann has committed no crime,” Sussmann attorneys Sean Berkowitz and Michael Bosworth told the New York Times. “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.”
Sussmann’s attorneys “are said to have insisted that their client was representing the cybersecurity expert he mentioned to Congress and was not there on behalf of or at the direction of the Clinton campaign." They “are also said to have argued that the billing records are misleading” because Sussmann “was not charging his client for work on the Alfa Bank matter, but needed to show internally that he was working on something," the outlet said.
Barr-Durham investigation again fails to produce a main event
Barr raised hard-to-meet expectations and thereby damaged the investigation itself, not to mention the FBI, Justice Department and nation. And after 28 months of investigating, Durham has produced nothing to show the Trump-Russia probe began improperly.Even the prospects for Sussmann's conviction are uncertain.
Sussmann’s lawyers contended he “was discussing the matter” with Elias “and the campaign paid a flat monthly retainer to the firm." Therefore, Sussmann’s hours “did not result in any additional charges," the report added.
Steelein a British court that Sussman provided him with other claims about Alfa Bank’s purported ties to Russian President during a late July 2016 meeting. These allegations made their way into a mid-September 2016 memo that became part of Steele’s dossier. Shortly after writing that memo, Steele met with Elias, who was the general counsel for Clinton’s campaign and had personally hired the opposition research firm Fusion GPS on the campaign’s behalf.
Clintonon Halloween 2016 that “computer scientists have apparently uncovered a covert server linking the Trump Organization to a Russian-based bank.” She shared a from her campaign foreign policy adviser, Jake Sullivan, who is now Biden’s national security adviser, who said that “the secret hotline may be the key to unlocking the mystery of Trump’s ties to Russia.”
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Jake Sullivan repeatedly promoted Alfa Bank story at the center of Durham indictment .
Special Counsel John Durham's indictment of Democratic lawyer Michael Sussmann will likely have made uncomfortable reading for a key member of President Joe Biden's administration — his beleaguered national security adviser Jake Sullivan. © Provided by Washington Examiner The grand jury indictment against Sussmann centers on a September 2016 meeting between him and then-FBI General Counsel James Baker in which Sussmann passed along allegations claiming there was a secret backchannel between Russia’s Alfa Bank and the Trump Organization.