(USA Features) Former U.S. Attorney John Durham, who was appointed as a special counsel during the Trump administration to examine the origins of the so-called “Russiagate” scandal, will reportedly seek to indict an attorney connected to a firm that worked with the 2016 campaign of Hillary Clinton, according to The New York Times.
“NEW: Prosecutor John Durham has told a cyber lawyer — who works for the firm that repped Clinton campaign — that he wants to indict him on suspicion of lying about who he repped when he told F.B.I. in ’16 about potential ties b/w Trump and Russia,” Times correspondent Michael S. Schmidt tweeted Monday evening.
The lawyer, Michael Sussmann, is a partner at Perkins Coie, which has represented the Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee and which reportedly hired Fusion GPS, the firm responsible for compiling the Steele dossier.
“Any indictment of the lawyer — Michael Sussmann, a former federal prosecutor and now a partner at the Perkins Coie law firm, and who represented the Democratic National Committee on issues related to Russia’s 2016 hacking of its servers — is likely to attract significant political attention,” the paper reported.
“Donald J. Trump and his supporters have long accused Democrats and Perkins Coie — whose political law group, a division separate from Mr. Sussmann’s, represented the party and the Hillary Clinton campaign — of seeking to stoke unfair suspicions about Mr. Trump’s purported ties to Russia,” the Times added.
“The case against Mr. Sussmann centers on the question of who his client was when he conveyed certain suspicions about Mr. Trump and Russia to the F.B.I. in September 2016. Among other things, investigators have examined whether Mr. Sussmann was secretly working for the Clinton campaign — which he denies.”
The Times said that an indictment is not a certainty, because occasionally, grand juries decline a prosecutor’s request, though that is rare.
Sussmann’s lawyers, Sean M. Berkowitz and Michael S. Bosworth, did say on Wednesday they expect their client will be indicted, though they denied he made false statements to the FBI.
“Mr. Sussmann has committed no crime,” they 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.”
Attorney General Merrick Garland could block Durham’s prosecutorial request, but sources told the Times he has no plans to do so.
“The accusation against Mr. Sussmann focuses on a meeting he had on Sept. 19, 2016, with James A. Baker, who was the F.B.I.’s top lawyer at the time, according to the people familiar with the matter,” the Times reported, adding that Durham is working under a five-year statute of limitations for such crimes that will expire this week.
“At the meeting, Mr. Sussmann relayed data and analysis from cybersecurity researchers who thought that odd internet data might be evidence of a covert communications channel between computer servers associated with the Trump Organization and with Alfa Bank, a Kremlin-linked Russian financial institution,” the paper added.
“The F.B.I. eventually decided those concerns had no merit. The special counsel who later took over the Russia investigation, Robert S. Mueller III, ignored the matter in his final report.”
Trump has long asserted that the Obama administration, and then the FBI under his administration, launched a baseless counterintelligence investigation into his 2016 campaign under suspicion he was “colluding” with Russia to defeat Clinton.