Clinton Lawyer Acquitted in RussiaGate Case

What does it all mean? It depends on who you ask.

NPR (“Special Counsel Durham fails first courtroom test in his three-year probe“):

A jury in Washington, D.C., has acquitted lawyer Michael Sussmann on a single charge of lying to the FBI, dealing a blow to the three-year investigation by special counsel John Durham.

Jurors deliberated for six hours, spread over two days, before delivering the unanimous verdict to a courtroom filled with the defendant’s family and members of the news media.

The jury forewoman, who did not give her name, told reporters outside the courthouse that “I think we could have spent our time more wisely.”

“It didn’t pan out in the government’s favor and that’s on them,” she also said.

So, what does it all mean? Well, it depends on who you ask.

Jonathan Chait, writing in New York magazine, tells us “John Durham Tried to Prove Trump’s Russiagate Theory. Instead He Debunked It.”

Donald Trump and William Barr have spent years alleging that the Russia investigation was a criminal plot by the FBI. The Department of Justice’s inspector general found the Russia investigation was adequately predicated, but Barr disagreed. So he selected a prosecutor, John Durham, who would supposedly uncover this scheme and begin frog-marching its perpetrators to justice.

By 2020, Barr was conceding that Durham might not reach all the way up to Barack Obama but would bring down his accomplices. “As to President Obama and Vice-President Biden,” he said that spring, “whatever their level of involvement, based on the information I have today, I don’t expect Mr. Durham’s work will lead to a criminal investigation of either man. Our concern over potential criminality is focused on others.” By the fall, Barr was reportedly “communicating that Durham is taking his investigation extremely seriously and is focused on winning prosecutions.”

However focused he may be, Durham is not winning prosecutions. His investigation has produced one extremely small fish for a likely immaterial error. And now he is losing prosecutions. Durham abused his authority by trying to prosecute Michael Sussmann, a lawyer working for Hillary Clinton, whom Durham tried to convict on a single perjury charge. And the case turns out to have been so pathetically threadbare that it resulted in a rapid acquittal.

[…]

The fact Durham even had to bring this case was a testament to the failure of his probe. He had set out to uncover the FBI’s crimes against Mr. Trump. He was reduced to trying, and failing, to prosecute somebody for lying to the FBI.

In the meantime, Durham supplied hours of commentary for Fox News personalities by filling his indictment with lurid claims that were not backed by evidence. Durham attempted to use the Sussmann trial to prove a version of the theory Trump claimed all along: that the Clinton campaign and the FBI had opened an investigation into Trump, knowing its evidence was fake, and then leaked the evidence of the investigation to the media in order to elect Hillary.

At WaPo, Paul Waldman and Greg Sargent observe “John Durham’s flop is only the latest of many Trump coverup failures.”

For three years, conservatives hyped John Durham’s investigation into the origins of the FBI’s original investigation of Russia’s effort to help Donald Trump get elected president in 2016. Durham, a prosecutor appointed in 2019 by then-Attorney General William P. Barr, would blow the lid off the real scandal, they said, which was a conspiracy between Democrats and the FBI to get Trump. This would show there was never anything to the Russiagate scandal.

Durham had all the time and resources he needed. As of last December, a partial accounting found he had spent about $3.8 million. So what did he come up with?

He delivered two indictments, both of people no one ever would have heard of and both for the crime of lying to investigators. On Tuesday, one of them, lawyer Michael Sussmann, was acquitted by a federal jury.

All that time and effort and expense, for one acquittal of one lawyer for supposedly not being upfront with investigators.

Durham does have one more indictment pending, of a researcher who allegedly lied about information he got pertaining to the scandal. But even if he is convicted, one has to ask: Is that all there is?

To appreciate the significance of this moment, you have to remember that Trump and Republicans have spent years working to show that there was never any serious cause for concern about the idea that Russia went to extraordinary lengths to try to swing the 2016 election to Trump.

Special counsel Robert S. Mueller III did not find evidence that Trump criminally colluded with Russia. But he found that Russia interfered “in sweeping and systematic fashion” and that Trump’s campaign expected to “benefit electorally from information stolen and released through Russian efforts.” Mueller also refrained from explicitly exonerating Trump of criminal obstruction of justice.

Durham had tried to prove that Sussmann had lied to the FBI when he came to them with supposed evidence of some kind of suspicious electronic communication between the Trump Organization and a Russian bank.

Sussmann was accused of concealing the fact that he was working for the Hillary Clinton campaign, and prosecutors painted this as part of a larger scheme by the Clinton campaign to nefariously undermine Trump. Of this Sussmann was acquitted, and jurors indicated that they thought this wasn’t a particularly close call and that the prosecution was politically motivated.

That’s pretty bad! But, wait. Both of those sources are in the lamestream media. What do the fair and balanced voices have to say?

The Washington Examiner‘s Byron York, writing hours before the verdict, tells us “What Durham proved.”

The trial of Michael Sussmann is before a jury in Washington, D.C. Sussmann is the Democratic lawyer who, according to special counsel John Durham, lied to the FBI in 2016 when, working on behalf of the Hillary Clinton campaign, he tried to plant a derogatory story about Donald Trump. The hope was that the FBI would start an investigation and then the campaign conversation would be: TRUMP IS UNDER FBI INVESTIGATION!

There is no doubt Sussmann lied to the FBI. There is no doubt he is guilty. But the trial is taking place in Washington, perhaps the deepest-blue jury pool in the United States. Durham’s prosecutors are “facing a jury that has three Clinton donors, an AOC donor, and a woman whose daughter is on the same sports team as Sussmann’s daughter,” George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley said recently on Fox News. “With the exception of randomly selecting people out of DNC headquarters, you could not come up with a worse jury.”

So the jury might reject Durham’s evidence — juries are free to do that. Or it might convict. Whatever it does, though, Durham has already made some important points about the actions of the Clinton campaign in the 2016 election.

The biggest point Durham has made is that an arm of the Clinton campaign developed a strategy to weaponize the FBI to investigate Clinton’s political opponent. Starting around the time of the 2016 Democratic convention, with the Russian hack of Democratic National Committee emails, the Clinton campaign made a concerted effort to accuse Trump falsely of acting in collusion with Russia. At the Sussmann trial, Robby Mook, Clinton’s campaign manager, testified that effort was focused on feeding information to reporters — the old-fashioned way to spread dirt.

But lawyers working for the campaign went beyond the old-fashioned way. They tried to enlist the FBI in the operation, to spur the investigation. That would turbocharge the story, allowing reporters to say the allegations were so serious that federal law enforcement was investigating.

That’s why, when a team of pro-Clinton researchers came up with a theory that there were suspicious computer connections between a Russian bank, Alfa-Bank, and the Trump campaign, Sussmann took it to the FBI. He did it on behalf of the Clinton campaign. He billed the campaign for the work. Yet he specifically told the FBI that he was not acting on behalf of the campaign, that he was just doing it as a concerned citizen. In September 2016, when Sussmann requested a meeting with then-FBI General Counsel James Baker, Sussmann texted, “Jim — it’s Michael Sussmann. I have something time-sensitive (and sensitive) I need to discuss. Do you have availability for a short meeting tomorrow? I’m coming on my own — not on behalf of a client or company — want to help the Bureau. Thanks.”

But Sussmann was doing it on behalf of a client — the Clinton campaign.

Besides showing that an arm of the Clinton campaign sought to weaponize the FBI, the Sussmann trial has shown that the FBI was eager to be weaponized. We learned that a senior FBI agent involved in the Trump-Russia investigation, Joe Pientka, sent a note to another agent about the Alfa-Bank tip: “People on the 7th floor to include Director are fired up about this server. Reachout and put tools on…it’s not an option — we must do it.” The FBI building’s seventh floor is where top management, including then-Director James Comey, had offices.

So those are two major revelations from the Sussmann trial: Elements in and around the Clinton campaign sought to weaponize the FBI, and the FBI welcomed the effort — all in the name of defeating the Republican nominee for president.

So, York is basically right on the substance if not in his analysis. (More on that later.)

While he makes no bones about his partisan leanings, York is, at the end of the day, a professional journalist. For those who are looking for a less newsy take, The Federalist‘s Margot Cleveland will tell them that the prosecution won. Hugely. Writing before the verdict was delivered, she explained, “Even Without The Jury Convicting Michael Sussmann, The Special Counsel Has Won.”

Judging the success of Special Counsel John Durham’s probe into the investigation of President Trump and those associated with the Trump campaign and administration should not rest on the outcome of the Sussmann prosecution, however. In fact, even if the special counsel’s office scores a conviction in its false statement case against Sussmann, that would do little to right the scales of justice unbalanced by more than five years of the politically motivated abuse of power that began as Crossfire Hurricane and continued even after Special Counsel Robert Mueller issued his final report.

So, measuring Durham’s performance by the outcome in United States v. Sussmann would be a mistake. Also, especially in the case of an acquittal, it would ignore the valuable information exposed related to the broader Spygate scandal. Using that gauge as a measure, the special counsel’s office succeeded wildly.

On September 19, 2016, Sussmann provided Baker data and whitepapers purporting to show a secret communications network between the Russia-based Alfa Bank and Donald Trump. In indicting Sussmann for allegedly lying to Baker during this meeting, the special counsel’s office revealed in its 27-page speaking indictment “a scandal much deeper than merely Sussmann’s role in a second Russian hoax — a scandal that entangles the Clinton campaign, multiple internet companies, two federally-funded university researchers, and a complicit media.”

Since then, proof that the Clinton campaign held near-total responsibility for launching the Russia-collusion hoax mounted with nearly every legal filing. It eventually culminated during the Sussmann trial when former Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook testified that Hillary Clinton personally “agreed with the decision” to feed the unverified—and quickly debunked—theory that Trump was communicating secretly with Russia through a back-door Alfa Bank channel.

Other trial evidence confirmed the Clinton campaign paid the law firm Perkins and Coie a flat fee of as much as $130,000 per month during the campaign, and authorized lead counsel Marc Elias to hire Fusion GPS for opposition research. Billing records then showed Sussmann charged his time for working the Alfa Bank hoax—including the time he spent meeting with the FBI’s General Counsel Baker—to the Clinton campaign. In fact, late last week, the jury in the Sussmann case learned that Sussmann even charged the Clinton campaign for two thumb drives purchased at Staples used for the Alfa Bank project.

While the Sussmann case focused on the Alfa Bank hoax, the detailed evidence presented over the course of that prosecution also confirmed the Clinton campaign paid for Fusion GPS to compile the Christopher Steele dossier. Given Mook’s testimony that he sought Clinton’s approval to push the Alfa Bank claims to the media, it is only reasonable to infer she likewise personally green-lighted the peddling of the claims contained in the Steele dossier.

But even if Clinton did not personally approve of peddling the lies contained in the Steele dossier, the Sussmann case established that her campaign paid for the lies—including those emanating from the Russian-national Igor Danchenko. And Special Counsel Durham’s indictment against Danchenko reveals that individuals hired by the Clinton campaign fed that Russian disinformation to U.S. media, law enforcement, and intelligence agencies.

Wow. Why was I not informed?

In a follow-up after the verdict, Cleveland tells us “Jury Acquits Clinton Campaign Attorney, But Prosecutors Prove Corporate Media Guilty.”

After deliberating for less than one day, the jury in the Michael Sussmann criminal case returned a not-guilty verdict today in a D.C. federal court.

Notwithstanding the verdict, in prosecuting Michael Sussmann for lying to former FBI General Counsel James Baker when he provided Baker data and whitepapers purporting to show a secret communication channel between the Russia-based Alfa Bank and Trump, the special counsel revealed several significant realities to the American public.

As I detailed earlier today, United States v. Sussmann exposed that Hillary Clinton holds full responsibility for the Russia collusion hoax, with her former campaign manager Robby Mook testifying she personally approved peddling the Alfa Bank tale to the media. The Sussmann prosecution also dispatched the lingering claims that a secret communication channel between Trump and Russia truly existed as “5150,” or delusional, talk.

Even the acquittal of Sussmann will not erase these facts. So for all posterity, Clinton’s fingerprints will be seen covering the worst political scandal of our country’s history.

That’s pretty compelling. The only thing I can think of worse than a presidential candidate peddling a tale to the media would be if, say, a sitting President tried to steal an election, maybe by sending supporters to intimidate lawmakers or some such. But that’s pretty far-fetched.

But what about the evil corporate media?

The corporate press has long demonstrated anti-conservative bias, but once it became clear Donald Trump would be the Republican challenger to Clinton in her bid for the presidency, the legacy media abandoned all semblance of journalistic integrity. The special counsel’s prosecution of Sussmann, however, shined a spotlight on the self-immolation of the profession in two new ways.

First, the prosecution of Sussmann made public email communications between the Clinton-campaign-funded Fusion GPS and prominent reporters at The New York Times, Washington Post, Reuters, Yahoo! News, ABC News, and Slate. Those emails exposed the supposed journalists collaborating closely with the opposition researchers working at Fusion GPS for the Clinton campaign during the 2016 election.

In one email, Fusion GPS’s co-founder Peter Fritsch pushed ABC News’s Matthew Mosk to run the Alfa Bank story, telling him, “Dude this is huge.” Fritsch took a more aggressive stance with Reuter’s Mark Hosenball, venting in a mid-October 2016 email, “Do the fucking alfa bank secret comms story,” telling him, “it is hugely important.”

When Hosenball pushed back that he lacked the technical expertise to evaluate the data, Fritsch told Hosenball to “call David Dagon at Georgia Tech.” Of course, thanks to the Sussmann trial, it is now public knowledge that, far from being a disinterested expert, Dagon worked with Joffe to craft the Alfa Bank tale sold to the media and the FBI. Dagon was also rabidly anti-Trump.

However, “neither Reuters nor ABC did the story then—but Fusion GPS soon found someone who would” when Fusion GPS’s team “went to see Franklin Foer, then working for Slate, at his home outside Washington, D.C., to brief him about the data suggesting ties between the Alfa Bank and Trump servers.”

Foer would later “break” the Alfa Bank story on October 31, 2016, sending Fusion GPS running back into the arms of the media pals who had previously rejected them. To Hosenball, Fusion GPS wrote, “big story on the trump Alfa server moving early pm,” followed by an “off the record” assurance the “U.S. government absolutely investigating.” Fusion GPS repeated the push with Michael Isikoff at Yahoo! News.

So, you’re telling me the sonsabitches have email addresses where even Democrats and their corporate shills are allowed to send messages? And, even worse, they often don’t then do the bidding of said shills? That just goes to show how clever they are.

Still, they ultimately got their man. Franklin Foer published a story so complicated that most of the seven people who read it almost surely didn’t understand it. And then the bastard had the temerity to publish a follow-up three days later pointing to expert rebuttals.

My tone above is snarky. But there’s more than a grain of truth: the sort of people who get their news mostly from Fox or The Federalist honestly think outlets like NPR, the New York Times, the Washington Post, and New York magazine are de facto Democratic Party propaganda. It’s really hard to have a common set of facts in that environment.

While I must confess to not having paid much attention to this case—I’m not sure I could have told you who Michael Sussmann was yesterday morning—I do think the triumphalism of Chait, Sargent and Waldman is overblown.

Clearly, despite being initially rejected by the larger outlets before Foer ran with it, the story had legs. There were lots of media reports on the broader Russia angle, it was a topic in one of the debates, and it helped launch the Mueller investigation. I must admit, though, that I had completely wiped the phrase “Alfa Bank” from my memory. Then again, it got essentially no attention here at OTB, being the subject of exactly zero posts and one comment before the election and three comments since. (It was also mentioned in a 2014 post on oil prices.)

Do I think the FBI is filled with Democratic operatives? Not hardly. But, in the context of overwhelming evidence that Russia was using its cyber assets to influence the election—and, specifically, to harm the Clinton campaign—they might have been too credulous in accepting this particular tip.

Do I think the Clinton campaign fed the FBI information? Yes.

Do I think they actually believed the information to be true? Yes.

Do I think Sussmann lied to the FBI? Yes.

Were I on the jury, would I have voted to send him to jail for this lie? No.

FILED UNDER: Environment, Law and the Courts, Media, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. steve says:

    Don’t really think of myself as a bleeding heart but there is a tiny part of me that feels sorry for conservatives here. 8 Benghazi investigations, Fast and Furious, the IRS scandal where after years of threats the GOP AG just dropped all charges (since there was nothing there) and now 3 years of Durham and they still dont get anything out of it. You would think it would really hurt morale having all of these investigations and not finding anything, losing all of the time. I think that is how I would take it. Alas, I think they are delusional. Losing will just be used as more proof that there is a huge conspiracy against and fraud is rampant. In their minds even when they lose they still win.

    Steve

    16
  2. MarkedMan says:

    I have to admit I didn’t read through the Republican excerpts you posted above, and life is really too short to spend it listening to partisan fantasists whine about how the refs are against them. So, James, can I ask for the TL:DR a account of why you are so sure Sussman lied, given that he told the FBI a who his clients were but said that he was coming to them in a private capacity and not as their representative. Are there receipts or something? Recordings of Hillary telling him to go to the FBI and that he could bill the hours to her?

    13
  3. drj says:

    So, York is basically right on the substance

    ???

    York:

    the Clinton campaign made a concerted effort to accuse Trump falsely of acting in collusion with Russia.

    No. Just no.

    Let’s not forget that Mueller didn’t indict Trump for obstruction of justice for the sole reason that he didn’t want to indict a sitting president. The Trump campaign’s collusion with Russia was real.

    Waldman & Sargent:

    Special counsel Robert S. Mueller III did not find evidence that Trump criminally colluded with Russia. But he found that

    Russia interfered “in sweeping and systematic fashion” and that Trump’s campaign expected to “benefit electorally from information stolen and released through Russian efforts.”

    Mueller also refrained from explicitly exonerating Trump of criminal obstruction of justice.

    Of course, the fact that there was collusion (“Russia, if you’re listening…”), makes it a lot harder to make a good-faith argument that Sussmann lied to the FBI.

    Anyone who refuses to acknowledge this reality (like York) is a liar and a hack. This includes York, who is therefore at the end of the day decidedly NOT “a professional journalist.”

    18
  4. Matt Bernius says:

    As I wrote yesterday about this, I suspect there are a lot of folks out there who are trying to resolve their deep skepticism about federal prosecutions for lying to the FBI against their hatred of Hillary Clinton to try and figure out how they feel about this.

    FWIW, I think we really should be suspicious of any case where primary charge is lying to the FBI (even when we dislike the person being prosecuted).

    While he makes no bones about his partisan leanings, York is, at the end of the day, a professional journalist.

    York is a “professional journalist” in the same way that John Solomon is. Meaning that he started as one, but has long since moved into an advocacy-first mode of reporting. In any other journalistic publication, his stuff would be run in the editorial section or the “analysis” section where material published isn’t expected to be reporting.

    14
  5. Mikey says:

    @steve:

    Losing will just be used as more proof that there is a huge conspiracy against and fraud is rampant.

    Oh, absolutely. In this case they’re blathering about the “DC jury” that had “Hillary donors” and wondering why the prosecution didn’t move for a change of venue, apparently ignorant of that being a violation of the 6th Amendment’s guarantee of a trial in the jurisdiction where the alleged offense took place.

    9
  6. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @steve: 8 Benghazi investigations, (don’t forget butter emails, OHB) Fast and Furious, the IRS scandal where after years of threats the GOP AG just dropped all charges (since there was nothing there) and now 3 years of Durham and they still dont get anything out of it. You would think it would really hurt morale having all of these investigations and not finding anything, losing all of the time.

    Losing all the time? They got 3 Supreme Court Justices out of it.

    11
  7. gVOR08 says:

    IANAL, and I’d welcome comment from those who are, but aren’t there two elements to lying to the FBI. First you have to tell a deliberate untruth. But isn’t there a second element that it has to be consequential? That it has to make some actual, non-trivial difference. Apparently everyone involved at the FBI knew Sussman worked for the Hillary campaign, whatever he may, or may not, have said. And the claim is that he lied, and his lie led to opening the investigation. But apparently the investigation was already open.

    The GOPs are doing their usual effective job of disinformation here. As with Russian disinformation, the point is not to get you to believe some falsehood, but to sling so much conflicting poo that you believe everything and nothing. Many people have commented here that on, say, 1/6 conservatives will tell a pollster they believe the election was stolen, but maybe they half believe, or want to believe, but will say they believe. This is the desired result of GOP disinformation.

    Reading comments at FOX yesterday, on this story, they were all convinced they knew the truth about evil, shrill Hillary last week and FOX et al will be able to blow enough smoke to keep them at least half believing.

    6
  8. gVOR08 says:

    @Matt Bernius:

    I suspect there are a lot of folks out there who are trying to resolve their deep skepticism about federal prosecutions for lying to the FBI against their hatred of Hillary Clinton to try and figure out how they feel about this.

    Having observed conservatives for years, I don’t think they’ll find this at all difficult. Motivated reasoning is a powerful tool.

    3
  9. Barry says:

    Janes: “So, York is basically right on the substance if not in his analysis. (More on that later.)”

    Daaaaayyyyy-aaaaaammmmm, this is bad.

    8
  10. @gVOR08: More importantly, that deliberate untruth has to be actually remembered by the sole witness who did not take contemperaneous notes with better than 75% certainty.

    That to me, if I was on the jury, would have killed any possibility of conviction when Baker says that there was a 25% chance that he could have misremembered a conversation from 5 years ago.

    5
  11. Argon says:

    @steve: You would think it would really hurt morale having all of these investigations and not finding anything, losing all of the time. I think that is how I would take it. Alas, I think they are delusional.

    Lol. We know that winning the cases was never the point. It was all about sispwrsi g FUD and squid ink meant to distract from their other, far more gross failures. And to feed the angry bear, aka. core supporters, they’ve decided to hitch a ride on.

    The are very serious problems that need to be addressed, often with painful compromises and sacrifice required. These investigations are just for distracting voters from noticing.

    1
  12. Stormy Dragon says:

    Funny how Dr. “Let’s not jump to conclusions from this video of Ahmad Aubrey getting lynched” is suddenly so sure that Sussmann must be guilty, acquittal be damned.

    But the trial is taking place in Washington, perhaps the deepest-blue jury pool in the United States. Durham’s prosecutors are “facing a jury that has three Clinton donors, an AOC donor, and a woman whose daughter is on the same sports team as Sussmann’s daughter,” George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley said recently on Fox News.

    So I guess only Republicans are allowed to serve on juries now?

    15
  13. Gustopher says:

    Do I think the Clinton campaign fed the FBI information? Yes.

    Do I think they actually believed the information to be true? Yes.

    Do I think Sussmann lied to the FBI? Yes.

    If people at the Clinton campaign believe that information about a Trump-Russia connection is true, and then give that information to the FBI, is that really “feeding information to” the FBI? That seems like a rather prejudicial phrasing.

    And the only lie I think they have accused was whether Sussmann was representing his client. People have more than one motivation, and will always choose the most flattering one to think they are acting on. All they have shown is that Sussmann had more than one possible motivation.

    7
  14. Fortunato says:

    The following is the most ridiculous thing I’ve EVER read at this site.
    It kind of leaps off the screen to slap you.
    I’m referring to this:

    So, York is basically right on the substance if not in his analysis. (More on that later.)

    While he makes no bones about his partisan leanings, York is, at the end of the day, a professional journalist.

    That’s just seriously f’d up.

    Really.

    There are very few writing today that are more bufoonish than Byron York.
    As Matt Bernius correctly noted, the famously dishonest John Solomon is in York’s league, as are trolls like Ann Coulter, Peggy Noonan, Mollie Hemingway, Michelle Malkin, Dennis Prager and a handful of others.
    The openly partisan, vile hackery of these people kind of makes one long for the days of the smarmy band of predators and grifters known as the ‘Moral Majority’. The comparatively ‘stately’ grift by cretins like Cal Thomas, Grover Norquist, Ralph Reed, James Dobson, Pat Buchanan and his sister Bay.

    10
  15. DK says:

    @MarkedMan:

    So, James, can I ask for the TL:DR a account of why you are so sure Sussman lied,

    Because Sussman is associated with Hillary Clinton. And the Hillary Derangement Syndrome that put Trump’s fascist white supremacy in power is hard to fully repudiate, even for former Republicans.

    11
  16. DK says:

    So, York is basically right on the substance if not in his analysis.

    Except York writes things that are substantively false. To wit:

    …the Clinton campaign made a concerted effort to accuse Trump falsely of acting in collusion with Russia.

    Cartoonishly dishonest.

    First, Trump *was* acting in collusion with Russia. Trump publicly called for Russia to steal emails, which Russia then did. Trump’s scampaign met with Russian operatives in Trump Tower on sanctions and election meddling, after which Russian sanctions were removed from the Republican platform. Trump hired Paul Manafort — a known Russian asset from his days helping Putin rig European elections — to run his campaign, and Manfort helped the Kremlin coordinate its anti-Hillary propaganda cyberattacks. While Steve Bannon did the same with Wikileaks.

    Trump was later impeached for illegally denying Ukraine military aid to blackmail Zelensky and help Putin, and recently Trump has repeatedly praised Putin’s warmongering. Not only did Trump collude back then, he’s still colluding.

    Moreover, the investigation into that collision began not because of Hillary, but because Trump staffer George Papadapolous spilled the beans. Info “fed to the FBI” by an Australian ambassador c/o John McCain.

    Does “professional journalist” York not know all this, or is he just a lying hack?

    13
  17. MarkedMan says:

    @Gustopher:

    And the only lie I think they have accused was whether Sussmann was representing his client.

    Accusing him of lying means that he was representing his client. And as far as I’ve seen reported they provided no evidence that was a lie, unless you define “represent” as doing something that might benefit one of my clients. But when I was a consultant, “represent” meant being paid to do something for a client. When I attended FCC seminars, or sat in on medical device privacy and security discussion groups, that benefitted my customers, but they weren’t paying me to go. Therefore I would not say I was representing them, despite the fact that they were paying me for other things.

    James hasn’t responded yet, but absent some hard evidence that someone paid Sussman to bring his evidence to the FBI, I don’t see they have a case. In fact, if the only evidence is “But one of his clients is HILLARY CLINTON and she is just the worst!” I think Sussman has a wrongful prosecution case.

    5
  18. DK says:

    @Matt Bernius:

    I suspect there are a lot of folks out there who are trying to resolve their deep skepticism about federal prosecutions for lying to the FBI against their hatred of Hillary Clinton to try and figure out how they feel about this.

    Would that it were so. Rank hypocrisy and blatant double standards are as natural to modern conservatives as breathing.

    7
  19. DK says:

    @MarkedMan:

    And as far as I’ve seen reported they provided no evidence that was a lie, unless you define “represent” as doing something that might benefit one of my clients.

    The reason Durham’s star witness couldn’t remember whether or not Sussman lied to him was because it was immaterial: Baker and the FBI already knew who Sussman was and who he worked with and for.

    Opposition research is not illegal. Two months after the formal Trump-Russia probe began due to Trump scampaign’s shady Russia dealings and lies, Sussman brought opposition research to the FBI. The FBI looked into it and disregarded it. Then kneecapped Hillary’s campaign at the last minute to elect Trump.

    You have to be total right wing zealot to twist all that into some grand Hillary-FBI conspiracy against Trump. But the post-Trump GQP has never met a falsehood it won’t desperately sell. It often works for them, so why not?

    14
  20. Ken_L says:

    I commend Benjamin Wittes’ comments on the case at https://www.lawfareblog.com/thoughts-michael-sussmann-verdict

    Important observations include:

    Because while there is no doubt that Sussmann had both the Clinton campaign and Joffe as clients, and while there is no doubt either that he was working with both to get the Alfa Bank story to the press, after two weeks of testimony, it is not clear—at least not to me—that Sussmann was, in fact, visiting Baker on behalf of either of them.

    Plus:

    My point here is that Durham was not merely trying to prove that Sussmann made a single false statement to Baker. He was trying to prove a much larger conspiracy that he details but does not charge. The alleged lie was merely the aspect of this supposed conspiracy that he could find a way to charge. His purpose here, in large part, was evidently to tell this larger story.

    6
  21. MarkedMan says:

    @Ken_L: His larger story, though, is the opposite of what he thinks it is. There wasn’t a conspiracy of people falsely tying Trump to Russia, rather, it was simply that Trump and his campaign officials bizarre interactions with Russia were so numerous that and that a lot of people, mostly unconnected, kept stumbling onto the ways It’s not a conspiracy if it’s based on reality.

    4
  22. Raoul says:

    JJ: you need to be more specific here- what did Sussmann lie about: that he was not representing Hillary when he talked to Baker? You know the jury asked to see the taxi receipts to attend the meeting which showed he did not bill the campaign for the meeting. Just because you represent a client does not mean every interaction is for the purpose of benefiting the client and Sussmann indeed had other motivations to see the FBI. As to York, you are too generous, he has been a hack for a very long time and there are numerous examples of his dishonesty including this story.

    5
  23. dmichael says:

    Yesterday, Dr. Joyner posted this piece that included “So, York is basically right on the substance if not in his analysis. (More on that later.)” I couldn’t find anything within the rest of the piece that is “more.” I don’t find anything further in a subsequent post. I’m sorry, but this is another example of Dr. Joyner’s “drive by posts” that assert a conclusion without evidence. He quotes (admiringly) York’s pre-verdict column that claimed that the Sussman billed the Clinton campaign for his meeting with the FBI. As Raoul has already pointed out, that didn’t happen. There have been previous public reports confirming this. How is this being “basically right?”
    This post is merely another example of “but some people are saying….”

    1
  24. Ken_L says:

    @Raoul: On top of that, two senior Clinton campaign officials testified that they had not asked Sussmann to go to the FBI, and would have preferred that he didn’t. Remarkably, Durham didn’t interview ANYBODY from the campaign prior to indicting Sussmann.

  25. al Ameda says:

    This entire sorry Durham investigation and trial was one of the last gifts by AG William Barr to the country. I honestly believe that Barr was setting up a hoped-for payback for the Mueller investigation.

    1