The special counsel appointed by the Trump administration to review the Russia investigation will reportedly ask a grand jury to indict a prominent lawyer with Democratic ties for lying to the FBI, people familiar with the matter told The New York Times.
Special Counsel John Durham reportedly told the Justice Department he will seek to indict cybersecurity lawyer Michael Sussmann, who represented the Democratic National Committee after Russia hacked its servers in 2016, the NYT reported.
Sussmann is a partner at Perkins Coie. The firm’s political law group, which is separate from the division Sussmann works in, represented Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign and the Democratic Party, the NYT reported.
Durham’s case focuses on who Sussmann’s client was in September 2016 when he gave the FBI data and analysis that he said could indicate the computer servers of the Trump Organization and Alfa Bank, a Kremlin-linked Russian financial institution, had a covert communications channel, the NYT reported.
The agency came to the conclusion there was no merit to those claims and Robert Mueller ignored them when he took over the Russia investigation, the NYT reported.
Durham has been searching for evidence the data was cherry-picked or the analysis of it purposefully skewed, the NYT reported. Investigators have sought to determine whether the Sussmann’s client was Clinton, which he denied previously.
The investigation found that James Baker, the FBI‘s top lawyer in 2016, remembered Sussmann saying he was not meeting with him on behalf of a client, according to the NYT. But Sussmann testified to Congress in 2017 that his client was an unnamed cybersecurity expert who aided in analyzing the server data, the NYT reported.
Internal billing Durham acquired from Perkins Coie purportedly shows that Sussmann billed the Clinton campaign for specific hours he logged when working on Alfa Bank affairs, the NYT reported. Sussmann did not bill the Clinton campaign for the time spent meeting with Baker, however.
The five-year statute of limitations means the deadline for Durham to bring charges is the weekend of Sept. 18-19. Sussmann’s lawyers deny their client made a false statement, but told the NYT on Wednesday they expect him to be indicted.
They insist Sussmann was working for the cybersecurity expert he mentioned in his 2017 testimony, not Clinton, and that the billing is misleading because Sussmann needed to show internally he was working on something, the NYT reported.
“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.”
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