Justice Department special counsel John Durham, who examined abuse during the Russia probe, on Thursday obtained an indictment against a Washington lawyer accused of lying to the FBI.
The charge against Michael Sussmann, a prominent cybersecurity lawyer whose firm is closely tied to Democratic Party interests, relates to a 2016 contact with the FBI when he expressed concerns about a secret communication channel. between a Russian bank and the Trump organization.
Prosecutors say Sussmann asked the September 19, 2016 meeting with then-FBI General Counsel James Baker to provide “data files” and other evidence of the secret communications link involving the Alfa Bank based in Moscow and did not disclose that he was acting as an advocate for other interested parties.
“In fact, Sussmann gathered and forwarded the allegations to the FBI on behalf of at least two clients, including a US technology official and Clinton’s presidential campaign,” prosecutors said.
Sussmann’s cabinet, Perkins Coie, also represented the Democratic National Committee.
The indictment also claims that the researchers were asked to “exploit this internet data to establish a” deduction “and a” narrative “that would link then-presidential candidate Donald Trump to Russia … “
A review of the material by the FBI ultimately concluded that there was insufficient evidence to support such a link between the bank and the Trump Organization.
Sussmann’s information, according to court documents, “misled the FBI about the political nature of its work.”
The timing of the indictment decision is tied to a five-year statute of limitations that would expire on Sunday.
Lawyers for Sussmann, who is scheduled to appear in court for the first time on Friday, have denied any wrongdoing by their client.
“Michael Sussmann was charged today because of politics, not facts,” his legal team said in a statement. “The special advocate appears to be using this indictment to advance a conspiracy theory that he has chosen not to actually accuse. This case represents the opposite of everything the Department of Justice is supposed to stand for. Mr. Sussmann will fight this baseless and politically-inspired prosecutions. ”
Durham was originally asked by former Attorney General William Barr in 2019 to examine possible FBI surveillance abuse during the Russia investigation.
Since that appointment, the Connecticut federal prosecutor’s investigation has resulted in a conviction against an FBI lawyer who pleaded guilty to altering an email used to justify surveillance of former Trump campaign adviser Carter. Page.
During the investigation, the Durham team interviewed a number of national security officials seeking information about the government’s investigation into Russia’s efforts to interfere with the 2016 presidential election. .
Following:Former FBI lawyer Kevin Clinesmith sentenced to one year probation for modifying Russia investigation email
Before stepping down in December, Barr appointed Durham as special counsel for the Justice Department, a move that ensured the investigation into the Biden administration would continue.
Former President Donald Trump had pushed for the results of the inquiry to be made public during the 2020 campaign, but Barr then said the coronavirus pandemic had slowed the pace of the inquiry, preventing its planned completion before the elections.
Trump had made the investigation a theme of his campaign, arguing that the Obama administration-led FBI and the Justice Department had sought to sabotage his candidacy.