On Monday night, special counsel John Durham released what could be the smoking gun in the case against Hillary Clinton lawyer Michael Sussmann in his investigation of Russiagate. According to newly published documents, Sussman, who was indicted last September for concealing his clients, messaged the FBI general counsel on Sept. 18, 2016, and said unambiguously that he was not working for any client while he was, in fact, working for Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.
Sussmann’s lawyers claimed last year that the charges against their client were false and that they were made based on an unsubstantiated verbal statement.
“The Special Counsel has brought a false statement charge on the basis of a purported oral statement made over five years ago for which there is only a single witness, Mr. Baker; for which there is no recording; and for which there are no contemporaneous notes by anyone who was actually in the meeting,” Sussmann’s lawyers alleged at the time.
Sussmann was charged with lying to the FBI for his false claim that he wasn’t working on behalf of a client when he delivered the bogus Trump dirt to federal agents. Sussmann claimed that Trump had a secret communications channel with the Kremlin. FBI agents found no evidence that such a channel existed. Sussmann’s lawyers have been trying to get the case against him dismissed but likely won’t have any luck since tangible evidence of Sussmann’s lie has now been produced.
“Jim – it’s Michael Sussmann. I have something time-sensitive (and sensitive) I need to discuss,” Sussmann’s message to the FBI lawyer reads. “Do you have availibilty [sic] for a short meeting tomorrow? I’m coming on my own – not on behalf of a client or company – want to help the Bureau. Thanks.”
Last month, Durham asked a judge not to dismiss his criminal case against Sussmann, accusing him of engaging in “political deceit” in his communications with the FBI. Sussmann’s lawyers insist that the issue of whether he was working on behalf of a client was immaterial to the investigation.
But, according to Durham, Sussmann “made his false statement directly to the FBI General Counsel on a matter that was anything but ancillary: namely, the existence … of attorney-client relationships that would have shed critical light on the origins of the allegations at issue.”
“The defendant’s false statement to the FBI General Counsel was plainly material because it misled the General Counsel about, among other things, the critical fact that the defendant was disseminating highly explosive allegations about a then-Presidential candidate on behalf of two specific clients, one of which was the opposing Presidential campaign,” Durham explained.