Washington (Times Of Ocean)- A judge denied the defense request to dismiss the case against a Hillary Clinton campaign lawyer accused of lying to the FBI during the Trump-Russia investigation.
Due to Wednesday’s ruling, Michael Sussmann, who was charged by special counsel John Durham last year, will be tried in Washington on May 16.
He is accused of lying to the FBI during a September 2016 meeting in which he relayed concerns from cybersecurity researchers about a possible secret back channel of communications between servers of the Trump Organization and Russia-based Alfa Bank. The FBI investigated the matter but found no suspicious links.
Sussmann allegedly misled the FBI’s then-general counsel by claiming that he was not attending the meeting on behalf of a particular client when, in fact, he was presenting information on behalf of the Clinton campaign and a technology executive with whom he had worked.
The Justice Department must prove that a false statement was not only fictitious, but also “material” – that is, capable of influencing a government agency’s decision-making.
If the FBI had known Sussmann represented the interests of the Clinton campaign at the meeting, Durham’s team says it would have done more to examine his motives as it considered whether to begin an investigation based on the tip Sussmann provided.
Lawyers for Sussmann have contended that his ties to the Clinton campaign were already known to the FBI, and have rejected the idea that the full disclosure of that relationship could have influenced the FBI’s decision to investigate or act on his tip.
In a six-page ruling, U.S. District Judge Christopher “Casey” Cooper said a jury would ultimately resolve the dispute.
“The battle lines are drawn, but the Court cannot resolve this standoff before trial,” Cooper wrote.
Durham, a former U.S. attorney in Connecticut, was appointed in 2019 by then-Attorney General William Barr to review government misconduct during the investigation into Russian election interference in 2016 and possible ties to Donald Trump’s campaign.
So far, Sussmann is one of three people charged. Kevin Clinesmith, a former FBI lawyer who pleaded guilty to altering an email and received probation, and Igor Danchenko, a Russian analyst and source of information for Christopher Steele, the former British intelligence operative who assembled the anti-Trump dossier. In November, Danchenko was charged with lying to the FBI during an interview.