Clinton campaign lawyer Michael Sussmann was acquitted on charges of making false statements to the FBI on Tuesday.
Clinton campaign lawyer Michael Sussmann was acquitted Tuesday on charges of making false statements to the FBI in a blow to special counsel John Durham’s probe of FBI misconduct relating to the Trump-Russia investigation.
- Sussmann was accused of hiding his role representing Clinton to the FBI when he passed along data cooked up by the Clinton campaign to make it appear there was a nefarious link between the Trump campaign and Russian Alfa Bank. The FBI quickly determined were was no link.
- Ex-FBI counsel Jim Baker testified Sussmann told him he wasn’t representing any clients when he passed on the bogus data- a seeming smoking gun.
- However, there was enough confounding information about the FBI’s own missteps and partisan prefererences – essentially, the FBI knew Sussmann was lying but was looking for an excuse to investigate Trump anyway – so the largely DC-based jury voted to acquit.
- The case against Sussmann is one of three criminal cases brought so far by the Durham probe – including a guilty plea from former FBI attorney Kevin Clinesmith for forging an email used to get a warrant to surveil Trump adviser Carter Page and an ongoing case against Igor Danchenko, who is accused of feeding false information to the FBI.
- The New York Times called the Sussmann trial an effort from Durham to use a relatively minor crime – lying to the FBI – to put forward a larger narrative on “a joint enterprise to essentially frame Mr. Trump for collusion with Russia by getting the F.B.I. to investigate the suspicions so reporters would write about it” – all on behest of the Clinton campaign.
- The Washington Post called the acquittal “a major setback” to Durham and interviewed two jurors who said the verdict was “not a close call or a hard decision.”
- CNN noted the jurors acquitted on a narrow charge even as the prosecutors larger argument – that Sussmann hid his ties to “manipulate the FBI” and “gin up an October surprise” went largely unrefuted.
- FOX News’s writeup of the Sussmann acquittal includes a useful summary of the many twists and turns of the Durham probe so far.
- The Washington Examiner called the verdict a “significant loss for John Durham’s investigation” and noted the jury forewoman said afterwards “I don’t think it should have been prosecuted, there are bigger things that affect the nation than a possible lie to the FBI.” Which was not, of course, what they were asked to evaluate.
- National Review argued the Durham probe must continue despite the acquittal. The probe has put a spotlight on what needs investigating: “the FBI’s role in the Trump-Russia ‘collusion’ farce.”
It’s hard to convict a man for lying to the FBI if partisan hacks at the FBI 1) knew he was lying from the start and 2) covered up his role in internal FBI memos to obfuscate the origin of the trumped-up Trump-Alfa Bank allegations. Perversely, FBI misconduct may have saved Sussmann from prison.
Thankfully, almost all of the partisan hacks of the late-Obama/early Trump-era FBI – James Comey, Andrew McCabe, Jim Baker, Lisa Page, Peter Strzok, Kevin Clinesmith – no longer work for the Bureau. Trump’s handpicked FBI director, Chris Wray, has already cleaned house and still has five years left in his term. More must be done to restore the Bureau’s nonpartisan reputation after Comey’s partisan biases and self-righteous superiority so thoroughly tarnished it with large swaths of the country.
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© Dominic Moore, 2022