Jake Sullivan pushed Alfa Bank claim at center of Durham’s possible indictment
Jake Sullivan, already in the hot seat as President Joe Biden’s national security adviser amid the Afghanistan fallout, could find himself under further scrutiny for his 2016 role in promoting a Trump-Russia collusion claim at the heart of a possible indictment by special counsel John Durham. © Provided by Washington Examiner Durham is reportedly seeking a grand jury indictment against Michael Sussmann, a cybersecurity lawyer at Perkins Coie, a Democratic-allied law firm linked to British ex-spy Christopher Steele’s discredited dossier.
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Trump's special counsel, who was appointed to investigate the administration's relationship with Russia, has revealed he plans to ask a grand jury to indict a Democratic cybersecurity lawyer for making a false statement to the FBI.
Former federal prosecutor Michael Sussmann, 57, who now works as a partner at the Perkins Coie law firm, represented the Democratic National Committee when Russia hacked its servers back in 2016.
Special counsel John Durham told the Justice Department he is now seeking to indict the lawyer in a case questioning who Sussmann's client was when he initially expressed suspicions to the FBI about Trump's relationship with Russia in September 2016.
Lawyer who allegedly advised Clinton campaign charged with lying to FBI in tip about possible Trump-Russia bank link
The indictment of Michael Sussmann relates to a tip he gave the FBI in 2016, when Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton competed for the White House.Federal prosecutors say the lawyer, Perkins Coie law firm partner Michael Sussmann, lied when he offered a tip that same year about the possible secret electronic channel between former President Donald Trump's company and a Russian bank.
The accusation centered around a meeting Sussmann had in Russia on September 19, 2016 with James A Baker, the FBI's top lawyer that year, according to people familiar with the matter. As reported by the New York Times they spoke on condition of anonymity.
At the meeting Sussmann allegedly gave the FBI data and analytics from cybersecurity researchers who thought the numbers might be evidence of hush-hush communications between Trump Organization's computer servers and Alfa Bank - a Kremlin-linked Russian financial institution. © Provided by Daily Mail Special counsel John Durham (pictured) told the Justice Department he is seeking to indict Democratic cybersecurity lawyer Michael Sussmann in a case questioning who Sussmann's client was when he initially expressed suspicions to the FBI about Trump's relationship with Russia in September 2016 © Provided by Daily Mail The accusation centers around a meeting Sussmann (pictured) had in Russia on September 19, 2016 with James A Baker, the FBI's top lawyer that year. At the meeting Sussmann allegedly gave the FBI data and analytics from cybersecurity researchers who thought the numbers might be evidence of hush-hush communications between Trump Organization's computer servers and Alfa Bank - a Kremlin-linked Russian financial institution
The Times reported that the FBI concluded the researchers' concerns had no merit. The special counsel who proceeded Durham, Robert S Mueller III, ignored the matter completely in his final report.
Durham prosecution rests on shaky legal ground
The case recalls that of D.C. lawyer Gregory Craig, who was eventually acquitted on a similar charge.Getting a Washington jury to convict Sussmann could be far harder, judging by a case with significant parallels: the 2019 prosecution of former Obama White House counsel Greg Craig.
According to The Times investigators are now examining whether Sussmann was secretly working for the Clinton campaign, although he has denied the accusations.
Durham had a deadline of this weekend to bring the accusations to light and set the investigation in motion due to a five-year statute of limitations for such cases.
Sussmann's division at Perkins Coie is separate from the firm's political law group, which represented the Democratic party and the Hillary Clinton campaign, as reported by The Times.
However, an indictment is not guaranteed and on rare occasions grand juries will decline a request such as Durham's.
But Sussmann's lawyers Sean Berkowitz and Michael Bosworth of the firm Latham & Watkins are expecting their client to be indicted, as reported by The Times, and also denied that he made any incorrect statements.
'Mr Sussmann has committed no crime,' they said.
Clinton lawyer's indictment reveals 'bag of tricks'
The indictment seems to have revealed quite a bit about how scandals are manufactured and manipulated in Washington. From CREEP to Clinton, lawyers discovered themselves in legal jeopardy when special prosecutors found them holding a "bag of tricks." A dirty trick in politics can be a thing of beauty for a campaign - until it boomerangs on the tricksters.Durham's final report, meanwhile, could answer even more questions, but will Washington ever allow it to see the light of day without massive redactions?Jonathan Turley is the Shapiro Professor of Public Interest Law at George Washington University.
Berkowitz and Bosworth insisted their client was representing the cybersecurity expert he mentioned to the FBI and he was not at the meeting with Baker for anything to do with the Clinton campaign.
The lawyers added: 'Any prosecution 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.' © Provided by Daily Mail Ex-President Donald Trump has long accused the democratic party and Perkins Coie of looking to find unfair suspicions about Trump's supposed ties to Russia. Trump supporters have been notoriously suspicious of Perkins Coie too
Sussmann's lawyers told the Justice Department that he originally organized the 2016 meeting because he and the cybersecurity researchers believed The New York Times was about to publish an article on the Alfa Bank data.
As reported by The Times, Sussmann wanted to give the FBI a heads-up before the paper ran the story which, in fact, they never did. The Times did, however, publish an article mentioning Alfa Bank six weeks later.
Eric Trump just killed irony
Eric Trump [shakes head].
Any indictment of the former prosecutor would attract significant political attention, according to The Times, and Durham is using a grand jury to examine Sussmann's data from Alfa Bank.
He has allegedly been on the hunt for any evidence that the numbers were false or skewed but to date there has been no public sign that the data was fabricated.
And while Attorney General Merrick B Garland has the authority to overrule Durham, he did not, according to a spokesman. Garland and his spokesman declined to respond to The Times's request for comment.
The only inconsistency Durham has been able to find to date is that Baker supposedly told investigators he remembered Sussmann telling him he wasn't arranging the meeting on behalf of any client.
Then, in a deposition before Congress in 2017 Sussmann testified otherwise, saying that he sought the meeting on behalf of an unidentified client who was a cybersecurity expert and assisted in data analyzation, as reported by The Times.
Durham later suspiciously acquired internal billing records from Perkins Coie that show Sussmann logged certain hours as working on the Alfa Bank matter and billed the time to Clinton's 2016 campaign. Oddly enough, those working hours did not include the time he spent at the meeting with Baker, according to The Times.
Durham preparing 'very well-laid out' conspiracy charge, 'Russiagate' inquirer says
A former top House Intelligence Committee investigator instrumental in revealing secrets behind the "Russiagate" controversy said the latest grand jury indictment in special counsel John Durham's inquiry offers a good view into a broader charge that may follow. © (Youtube/ CBS News) Kash Patel. Kash Patel, a high-ranking official in the Trump administration, told Fox News on Monday he believes a "very well-laid out" conspiracy charge is in the making that will envelop people in and around Hillary Clinton's 2016 presidential campaign.
But Sussmann's lawyers argued the billing records were misleading because their client was not charging the cybersecurity expert for work on the Alfa Bank matter. According to The Times he simply needed to show internally that he was working on something.
The Times also noted that Marc Elias, a fellow partner at Perkins Coie who served as the general counsel for the Clinton campaign, did not respond to inquiries and left the firm last month.
Elias allegedly spoke on the Alfa Bank with Sussmann. Elias and the Clinton campaign paid a monthly retainer to Perkins Coie and therefore claimed that Sussmann's logged hours did not result in any additional charges.
When Durham knuckled down on his attempts to indict Sussmann in October 2020, The Times reported that the cybersecurity researcher who originally brought the concerns to Sussmann hired a lawyer - Steven Tyrrell.
Tyrrell told The Times that his client thought Sussmann was representing him at the meeting with Baker. The lawyer didn't reveal the identity of his client for fear of harassment.
'My client is an apolitical cybersecurity expert with a history of public service who felt duty bound to share with law enforcement sensitive information provided to him by DNS (Domain Name System) experts,' Tyrrell told The Times.
He added: 'He sought legal advice from Michael Sussmann who had advised him on unrelated matters in the past and Mr Sussmann shared that information with the FBI on his behalf.
'He did not know Mr Sussmann’s law firm had a relationship with the Clinton campaign and was simply doing the right thing.'
Ex-President Donald Trump has long accused the Democratic party and Perkins Coie of looking to find unfair suspicions about Trump's supposed ties to Russia.
Trump supporters have been notoriously suspicious of Perkins Coie too, especially when Elias commissioned a research firm to look into Trump's relationship with Russia on behalf of Democrats.
According to The Times, Durham's team has stirred up more skepticism in recent months after suggesting a theory that the Clinton campaign used Perkins Coie to submit unreliable information to the FBI about Russia and Trump in efforts to hurt his 2016 campaign.Read more
Jake Sullivan repeatedly promoted Alfa Bank story at the center of Durham indictment .
Special Counsel John Durham's indictment of Democratic lawyer Michael Sussmann will likely have made uncomfortable reading for a key member of President Joe Biden's administration — his beleaguered national security adviser Jake Sullivan. © Provided by Washington Examiner The grand jury indictment against Sussmann centers on a September 2016 meeting between him and then-FBI General Counsel James Baker in which Sussmann passed along allegations claiming there was a secret backchannel between Russia’s Alfa Bank and the Trump Organization.