A federal grand jury returned an indictment sought by sought by Special Counsel John Durham against Democratic lawyer Michael Sussmann, accusing him of lying to the FBI during the Russia investigation.
The indictment accuses Sussmann of hiding the fact that he was working for the Clinton campaign while pushing for an investigation into then-candidate Donald Trump's ties to Russia in 2016.
Trump appointed Durham to investigate the origins of the Russia probe, with indictment coming just weeks before the five-year statute of limitations was set to expire.
Sussmann, whose firm had previously represented the Democratic National Committee, told the FBI's James Baker in Sep. 2019 that he was not representing a client when pushing for an investigation into Trump. Sussmann denied any wrongdoing, while withholding the fact that he was working on behalf of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign.
On Thursday evening, attorneys for Sussmann sent a statement to Fox News. The statement was signed by attorneys Sean Berkowitz and Michael Bosworth, with the law firm Latham & Watkins LLP:
Michael Sussmann was indicted today because of politics, not facts. The Special Counsel appears to be using this indictment to advance a conspiracy theory he has chosen not to actually charge. 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 prosecution.
Michael Sussmann is a respected attorney and Department of Justice veteran who has dedicated his career to national security and cyber security. In September 2016, Mr. Sussmann met with FBI General Counsel James Baker on behalf of a cyber expert client to inform him that a major news organization was about to run a story about cyber connections between a Russian bank and the Trump Organization and to give him a copy of the information on which that story was based. Mr. Sussmann met with Mr. Baker because he and his client believed that the information raised national security concerns.
Stripped of its political bluster, innuendo, and irrelevant details, what is striking about the allegations in the indictment is how few of them actually relate to the charge the Special Counsel chose to bring. At its core, the Special Counsel is bringing a false statement charge based on an oral statement allegedly made five years ago to a single witness that is unrecorded and unobserved by anyone else. The Department of Justice would ordinarily never bring such a baseless case.
Nor can the Special Counsel ever prove that any of this mattered. Regardless of who Mr. Sussmann’s clients were, or even if he had no clients at all, none of that would have mattered. As Mr. Baker testified before Congress, "the FBI is responsible for protecting everybody in this country. Period, full stop. And we do that, without regard to who they are or what their political background is or anything else. If they believe they have evidence of a crime or believe they have been a victim of a crime, we will do what we can within our lawful authorities."