Clinton campaign lawyer Michael Sussman has found not guilty of lying to the FBI, in a blow to the Durham investigation


The ruling represents a major defeat for Durham and the Department of Justice prosecutors, who have spent three years looking for irregularities in the Trump and Russia investigation. Sussman allegedly lied during a 2016 meeting in which he advised the FBI about Donald Trump and Russia.

The Washington, D.C., federal jury deliberated for six hours over two days before reaching its verdict.

The Sussman case revolved around September 2016 An interview with James Baker, a friend who was the general counsel of the FBI. Sussman passed on advice that led to a four-month FBI investigation into a potential Internet back channel between the Trump Organization and Alpha Bank, which is linked to the Kremlin. The two companies denied the claim, and the FBI did not find any incorrect online links.
Prosecution argue That Sussman deliberately lied to Baker by saying he came only as a caring citizen, not on behalf of any agents, saying that Sussman hid his ties to Democrats in order to “manipulate the FBI” and get October surprise To help Clinton win.
In Sussman’s account, at the height of Russia’s attack on the 2016 election, he goes to the FBI with a hint of goodwill, which stems from Reputable internet experts which he represents. He worked separately on behalf of Clinton to release this unverified information to the press, which led to some coverage. He did not attempt to deceive Baker or conceal his political connections, which were known to the FBI.
Durham is a Trump-era position and was appointed by then-Attorney General Bill Barr in 2019 to review the Russia investigation. Bar and Durham have public interrogation The legitimacy of the Russian investigation, but Durham has not yet backed up these assertions with criminal convictions.

A juror told CNN that the jury initially did not agree with a verdict when they got the case on Friday afternoon. During deliberations, however, the juror said, all 12 jurors agreed that the Durham team had not met the five legal conditions needed to convict Sussman.

Sussman’s lawyers have repeatedly reinforced the element of “materiality,” which requires prosecutors to prove that Sussman’s alleged lie was relevant enough to potentially affect the work of the FBI.

Four additional jurors declined to comment on the ruling.

There was a sigh audible from the Sussman family after the foreman of the jury pronounced the verdict of innocence. After walking out of the courtroom, Sussman’s wife, Dr. Durham remained in the courtroom for a few minutes after it was mostly emptied.

In closing arguments last week, Sussman’s attorneys He mocked the Durham case As a great one of the “political conspiracy theory”. And they went further on Tuesday, accusing Durham of playing politics with the legal system.

“This is an unusual prosecution case,” defense attorneys Sean Berkowitz and Michael Bosworth said in a statement. “And we believe today’s ruling sends an unmistakable message to anyone who cares to listen: Politics is no substitute for evidence, and politics has no place in our system of justice.”

Sussman spoke to the press outside the courtroom and thanked the jury, saying he was eager to get through this ordeal and return to his job as a cybersecurity attorney.

“I told the truth to the FBI, and the jury clearly recognized that in its collective verdict today,” Sussman said. “…Even though I was falsely accused, I am relieved that justice ultimately prevailed in my case.”

Durham said in a statement that he was “disappointed” with the ruling.

“While we are disappointed with the outcome, we respect the jury’s decision and thank them for their services,” Durham said in a statement. “I would also like to acknowledge and thank the investigators and the prosecution team for their dedicated efforts in the search for truth and justice in this case.”

Durham investigation dealt a blow

So far, Durham’s work has led to only one conviction: a guilty plea for a junior FBI attorney who was involved in a wiretapping order on a former 2016 Trump campaign adviser. .

The Sussman case was the first major courtroom test for Durham, and the acquittal ruling has bolstered Durham’s critics, who believe it is conducting a politicized investigation into flimsy theories.

FBI conducts internal review of possible misconduct in the Trump-Russia investigation
Several times during the trial the judge scolded Prosecutors for asking politically tainted questions of witnesses. Sussman’s lawyers complained on several occasions that prosecutors were going beyond pre-trial “barriers” erected by the judge to keep politics out of the proceedings.
The Durham team used the trial to highlight what it described as the Clinton campaign’s dirty tactics, and to undo the Democrats’ good funding. Opposition Research Efforts Against Trump in 2016.
Taking advantage of these discoveries, Trump did Treat The investigation, conducted by Durham as a political weapon, has sparked excitement in the right-wing ecosystem that Durham will present indictments of the caliber of Watergate against Clinton loyalists and agents of the “deep state” government who supposedly conspired against him. He even suggested that Sussman and other Democrats behave as well “It is punishable by death.”
Durham’s efforts to “investigate investigators” are continuing, and the duration of the Russian investigation itself, which seized him, has exceeded Special Advocate Robert Mueller He condemned six Trump aides, including Attorney2016 campaign chairsenior White House official.

This story has been updated with additional details.

CNN reporter Hana Rabinovitch contributed to this report.