Durham issues a new subpoena in its ongoing investigation into the FBI investigation into Trump, Russia

After looking for additional documents from Sussmann’s former law firm, Perkins Coie, it appears that investigators from the law firm are sharpening their focus on the democratic political machinery during the 2016 campaign and efforts to link Trump to Russia.

Perkins Coie’s clients in 2016 included the Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee. The law firm also hired, on behalf of the campaign, a research company that ordered the dossier from former British spy Christopher Steele, who claimed Trump was compromised by Russia.

Durham has already had access to a number of the law firm’s records, such as billing records, meeting calendars, and a log of documents that the firm protects under attorney-client privilege. Some of the recently requested documents have so far been guarded by lawyer-client privilege.

A lawyer for the law firm did not respond to requests for comment.

Durham’s new lawsuits could lead to a court battle over privileged information and drag more about the Clinton campaign out into the open.

While working for Perkins Coie, Sussmann also represented Rodney Joffe, a cybersecurity expert referred to in Durham’s indictment as “Tech Executive-1”. In 2016, Joffe, who has not previously been identified, worked with investigators to collect Internet data about the Trump organization, which Sussmann took to the FBI.

Durham’s continued use of the federal jury in Washington, DC, signals that he might be interested in adding Sussmann’s charges or bringing charges against additional defendants.

Still more than two years after then-Attorney General William Barr was tasked with investigating whether federal authorities misdirected the Trump campaign, Durham has little to show for his efforts. His special lawyer’s probe, which has lasted longer than Special Adviser Robert Mueller’s investigation, has so far only brought two false charges against little known people, including the case against Sussmann, who has pleaded not guilty.

The results have overwhelmed Trump supporters who had hoped former top FBI and intelligence officials would be prosecuted for “spying” on Trump and his campaign.

Already, the scale of Durham’s probe has narrowed after Barr announced last year that investigators had found no misdemeanors from the CIA. Still, Durham continued his investigation, largely in secret, working out of a non-descriptive office building near the trendy Washington’s Union Market.

The case against Sussmann

Durham’s only charges against Sussmann relate to a September 2016 meeting he had with then-FBI Attorney General James Baker — and are largely based on details that appear to rest on Baker’s thin memory from the meeting. Baker told Congress in 2018 that he did not remember Sussmann “specifically saying he was acting on behalf of a particular client.”

According to Durham, Sussmann lied in this meeting and hid from the FBI that he worked for the Clinton campaign, for which he billed the FBI meeting time.

When Sussmann met with the FBI, the agency was already investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election. , Sussmann shared.

The federal judge overseeing the case, Christopher “Casey” Cooper of the DC District Court, is likely to weigh in on pre-trial trials whether Sussmann would disclose his client to the FBI. If Cooper lets the case move forward, he could kick the question to a jury.

In interviews with CNN, several former federal prosecutors criticized Durham’s use of what is being called a speaking indictment against Sussmann, and presented a broader case detailing the alleged political motives and behaviors of several individuals outside Sussmann’s legal practice that are not siftet. The former prosecutors say a false statement is typically straightforward and often put in a single sheet of paper.

“There are two ways to take it: The way charity and favor for Durham is is that it’s basically a case for this to be significant,” said Ken White, a former prosecutor who turned white. collar defense attorney in Los Angeles who follows Trump-era cases closely. “The less charitable interpretation is that it is Durham who is doing what he wants to do, and is basically making his bid for Trump as a victim.”

In a statement, Sussmann’s legal team has called the breadth of the indictment a political smear.

They have already told the court that they can challenge parts of his indictment for being irrelevant in an attempt to keep them off the jury. And they maintain that Sussmann did not commit any crime.

Dirty politics

The larger narrative that Durham describes describes a practice that is not uncommon in politics and a world that is usually opaque to the public – where campaigns drive traffic stories that can hurt their opponents and sometimes try to get law enforcement to open investigations. of alleged misdemeanors. At times, the research and the authorities’ reactions to the research leak to the news media as part of a party-oriented attempt to influence election results.

Lawyers immersed in Washington are often involved in the opposition’s research efforts. Justice Department officials suspected a similar effort in the works in 2020, when Rudy Giuliani sought meetings with top justice officials to provide documents related to Joe Biden and his son, Hunter, while giving news organizations some of the same information, according to former Trump administration officials .

These practices in themselves are not regulated by law, and Durham has not, as a crime, accused of acts central to the research of the opposition itself.

“It is certainly routine for people with contacts in government to be hired to try to get the government interested in launching a survey that is beneficial to clients,” White said. “It’s all part of asking the government.”

John Podesta, Clinton campaign chairman in 2016, declined to comment on the tactics the campaign used. But he called Durham’s indictment of Sussmann an “exercise in distraction and confusion.” He added that Barr hired Durham specifically to pursue a party-political inquiry into Democrats, and that after two years he “does not have much to show for it.”

A lawyer representing the Clinton campaign declined to comment.

The technical client

Durham’s indictment also portrays researchers working with Joffe as doubting whether Trump-Alfa Bank information was anything other than harmless email traffic. But the indictment cites excerpts from sentences from emails and omits further discussion among investigators who appear to show that they firmly believed the connection between Trump and Alfa Bank was suspicious and should be investigated.

The indictment cites an email conversation in which one of the investigators suggests narrowly tailoring their findings to present a “plausible” case that there was something worth investigating about Trump and Alfa Bank. The rest of the email – omitted by prosecutors in the indictment – continues: “If the White Paper intends to say that here is communication between at least Alpha and Trump, which is being deliberately hidden by Alpha and Trump, I absolutely believe that’s the case, “according to the e-mail reviewed by CNN.

The full emails are likely to be an important part of a trial period.

Elsewhere in the indictment, Durham quotes an email sent to Joffe and others involved in the effort, in which one of the researchers wrote: “Let’s think for a moment about the best case scenario we are capable of (somehow). ) that DNS communication exists between Trump and R[ussia]. How do we plan to defend ourselves against the criticism that it is not spoofed traffic that we observe? There is no answer to that, “the indictment stated.

The named researcher continued: “Technically, we can not make any claims that would lead to public scrutiny. The only thing that drives[s] us at this point is that we just do not like [Trump]. ”

Joffe also wrote that the proposal that Trump should be tied to a Russian bank would be a “jackpot”, according to the indictment.

However, additional emails reviewed by CNN appear to show that after expressing their skepticism in late August 2016, the researchers expanded the scope of their research and felt they should show their findings to the FBI.

In a statement to CNN, Steven A. Tyrrell, Joffe’s attorney, said Durham’s indictment is “full of cherry-picked parts of emails and selective facts that give a free, incomplete and misleading picture of his actions and role in the events in question.”

Tyrrell said his client “stands behind the rigorous research and analysis that was conducted, culminating in the report he believed was his patriotic duty to share with the FBI.”

Trump-Russia suspect

While the indictment in Durham describes alleged dirty tricks from the Clinton campaign, much of the 2016 story is also missing.

When Sussmann met with the FBI, the agency was already investigating a Russian hack-and-dump campaign aimed at harming Clinton. Podesta and the Democratic National Committee were targeted by Russian intelligence services, and their private emails were made public, and a separate Russian botnet fed anti-Clinton propaganda online.

Mueller’s report found that the Russian effort was aimed, at least in part, at helping Trump win the election, and that Trump’s allies greeted and even encouraged this help.

Trump even fed suspicion. In July 2016, Trump publicly called on Russia to target Clinton. “Russia, if you listen, I hope you are able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing, I think you are likely to be greatly rewarded by our press,” Trump said, referring to thousands of emails that the FBI then said had been deleted and were not recovered as part of its investigation into Clinton’s private email server. The FBI had completed the investigation into Clinton that month and recommended no charges.

Nor does Durham write in his indictment against Sussmann further reasons why the FBI suspected Trump and Russia. U.S. intelligence received tips on several fronts, and in the end, investigators looked at a handful of Trump advisers, including campaign president Paul Manafort, as well as foreign policy contacts George Papadopoulos and Carter Page, who had contacts with Russians.

Earlier, Durham spoke with witnesses and gathered information about the federal government’s investigations into both Papadopoulos and Page. A few of the interviews Durham considered holding were never conducted this year, according to several sources familiar with Durham’s work.
This story has been updated.


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