Special counsel John Durham suffered a big loss in court on Tuesday when a federal jury found Michael Sussmann not guilty of materially lying to the FBI in a September 2016 meeting.
The jury, which returned Tuesday for its first full day of deliberations after being charged with the case Friday afternoon, came to its decision in less than a day.
Testimony made clear that Sussmann brought the phony Hillary Clinton–commissioned scam — to wit, that Trump was a Russian agent with a super-secret server to communicate with Vladimir Putin’s Alfa-Bank — to the FBI in hopes of launching an investigation that would dirty up the Republican presidential nominee. That investigation continued for two years into Trump’s presidency.
The quick response by the jury, however, means that jurors didn’t buy the fact that Sussmann’s lies were material to the case; meaning that Sussmann’s lie that he was bringing the false information out of duty and not for Hillary Clinton’s campaign didn’t change the way the FBI did its job.
As I reported at PJ Media, Sussmann’s attorney argued for just such an outcome:
… Sussmann’s attorney argued that those FBI executives weren’t duped at all! He dismissed the FBI investigation into his client as “shoddy” and “an embarrassment.” They knew for whom Sussmann worked—Hillary, the DNC, and his tech executive who helped make up the lies. Notwithstanding Durham’s evidence against Sussmann to the contrary, he argued that nobody at the FBI was duped because they knew he worked for Hillary’s campaign, he argued. Indeed, “Mr. Sussmann had DNC and HFA [Hillary for America] tattooed on his forehead, they (FBI) assumed that’s where the information came from,” he told jurors. And that means, he reasoned, Sussmann may have lied and said he didn’t come on behalf of any client, but it wasn’t a big, material lie because they should have known he was lying.
Though Sussmann being found guilty would have been a surprise outcome in the political environment that is Washington, D.C., the trial was not a waste of time by the Durham team. During the proceedings, John Durham smoked out that Hillary Clinton green-lighted the Trump-Russia Collusion scam. That admission came from the lips of her own 2016 campaign manager.
In court, FBI officials admitted that Sussmann and his cronies used them to launder Trump conspiracy theories as they seeded the lies throughout the FBI, CIA, and media without pushback. The trial also made abundantly clear that the FBI gave out the title of Confidential Human Source (CHS) to friends to use their information, whether it was false or not, to trigger an investigation into the man they so loathed.
Former prosecutor Andy McCarthy predicted on his podcast that Sussmann would walk. McCarthy summed up the scam in his book, “Ball of Collusion: The Plot to Rig an Election and Destroy a Presidency:
“That is the Ball of Collusion. Counterintelligence as a pretext for a criminal investigation in search of a crime. A criminal investigation, a pretext for impeachment, without an impeachable offense. An impeachable inquiry as a pretext for rendering Donald Trump un-reelectable and all of it designed as a straightjacket around his presidency.”
Durham’s not done, though this is a PR setback to be sure.
The acquittal also points out once again that the Left always seems to get a jury of its peers in Washington, D.C.