Special counsel John Durham
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Special Counsel John Durham slams Clinton lawyer Michael Sussmann’s ‘absurd’ bid to have charges for lying to the FBI dropped because he was capable of ‘influencing the decision to start the Trump-Russia probe’

  • John Durham opposed Michael Sussmann’s effort to have charge against him dropped in a new court filing, saying his argument was ‘absurd’
  • Sussmann is accused of lying to the FBI by passing on details about possible Trump-Russia ties without disclosing he worked for the Clinton campaign
  • His lawyers argue that prosecuting him might deter other would-be tipsters
  • And they say his connections were immaterial to the information he supplied 

Special Counsel John Durham slammed lawyer Michael Sussmann’s effort to have charged against him dropped as ‘absurd’ and again accused him of misleading the FBI in 2016 by passing on ‘highly explosive allegations’ about Donald Trump without disclosing his links with the Clinton campaign, in a new court filing. 

The document opposes Sussmann’s attempt to have a change of lying to the FBI thrown out.

His attorneys argued in a motion that Durham’s case was largely unprecedented and might ultimately deter other tipsters from coming forward. 

They used the example of a jilted ex-wife who might think twice about reporting her ex-husband’a ‘extensive gun smuggling operation.’ 

In their motion to dismiss, they say Sussman was not accused of giving false information to the FBI – but of lying about whether or not he was approaching the bureau for Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.  

That, they argued, is ‘immaterial as a matter of law.’ 

In his response, Durham and his team of lawyers dismissed the comparison with the jilted ex-wife as ‘absurd’ as they asked the federal court in the District of Columbia to proceed.        

‘Far from finding himself in the vulnerable position of an ordinary person whose speech is likely to be chilled, the defendant –  a sophisticated and well-connected lawyer – chose to bring politically-charged allegations to the FBI’s chief legal officer at the height of an election season,’ they wrote.

‘He then chose to lie about the clients who were behind those allegations. 

‘Using such rare access to the halls of power for the purposes of political deceit is hardly the type of speech that the Founders intended to protect.’

Special counsel John Durham

Michael Sussmann

Special Counsel John Durham (l), who is probing the origins of the federal investigation into links between Russian and the 2016 Trump campaign, is opposing lawyer Michael Sussmann’s effort to have charges  against him dropped in a new court filing

In a response filed last week, Durham and his team said Sussman's argument that prosecuting him would prevent other tipsters coming forward was 'absurd'

In a response filed last week, Durham and his team said Sussman’s argument that prosecuting him would prevent other tipsters coming forward was ‘absurd’

And far from being immaterial, they went on to say that ‘the defendant’s false statement was capable of influencing both the FBI’s decision to initiate an investigation and its subsequent conduct of that investigation.’

Durham was appointed in 2019 to probe the roots of the FBI’s investigation of possible links between the Trump campaign and Russia.

Each twist of his work has excited Trump allies and rightwing media, keen to trumpet evidence that the former president was the subject of a ‘witch hunt.’

So far, Durham has brought only one indictment.

It focuses on a meeting in September 2016, when Sussmann gave the FBI data showing apparently suspicious traffic between Trump Organization computers and a Russian bank.

According to Durham’s accusations, Sussmann claimed not to be acting on behalf of anyone else – but was in fact working for a tech executive and the Clinton Campaign.

The data were investigated but the FBI ultimately found no evidence of wrongdoing.

Sussman’s lawyers argued that his affiliations were irrelevant.

‘At the end of the day, Hillary Clinton herself could have publicly handed over the Russian Bank-1 Information and the FBI would still have investigated it,’ they said in a filing last month. 

But Durham’s team say the FBI might have been better able to assess the reliability of the allegations if they better understood the source. 

The latest back and forth follows an explosion of coverage last month when Durham raised fresh allegations about Sussmann in a court filing – which Trump and his allies wrongly said showed that opponents had spied on the former president at the White House. 

Hillary Clinton herself was among those who poured scorn on Trump, as investigations in New York into his business affairs intensified and his long-term accountants said they could not longer vouch for 10 years of his accounts.

‘By the way, they’ve been coming after me again lately, in case you might have noticed. It’s funny, the more trouble Trump gets into, the wilder the charges and conspiracy theories about me seem to get,’ said Clinton.

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