Ex-Clinton Lawyer May Testify as He Seeks Acquittal on Charge of Lying to FBI

By John Haughey
John Haughey
John Haughey
John Haughey has been a working journalist since 1978 with an extensive background in local government, state legislatures, and growth and development. A graduate of the University of Wyoming, he is a Navy veteran who fought fires at sea during three deployments aboard USS Constellation. He’s been a reporter for daily newspapers in California, Washington, Wyoming, New York, and Florida; a staff writer for Manhattan-based business trade publications.
and Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber
Reporter
Zachary Stieber covers U.S. and world news. He is based in Maryland.
May 25, 2022 Updated: May 26, 2022

Update: Sussmann has decided not to testify.

Original story below.

WASHINGTON—The lawyer who was representing Hillary Clinton’s campaign when he took derogatory information about her rival Donald Trump to the FBI in 2016 may take the stand in his own defense.

Michael Sussmann, the lawyer, would speak for about three hours of direct testimony if he does choose to testify, Sean Berkowitz, one of his attorneys, told the court on May 25.

The cross-examination would be expected to go into Friday, which would likely mean closing arguments would not take place until the following Tuesday, after the Memorial Day weekend.

But Berkowitz’s team wants U.S. District Judge Christopher Cooper, the Obama appointee overseeing the case, to agree to not allow questions on negotiations that Sussmann engaged in through his counsel with prosecutors before being charged.

The defense already filed a sealed motion detailing their arguments and asked for a prompt response from prosecutors.

Berkowitz said a response is needed “sooner rather than later” because it would “inform” Sussmann’s decision to take the stand.

Cooper said it was “hard to find” an example of pretrial negotiations being used as evidence, suggesting he’s leaning toward the defense on the matter.

Andrew DeFillipis, a prosecutor with special counsel John Durham’s office, said that prosecutors would reply by 6 p.m. on Wednesday to determine “what’s fair for the defendants’ cross-examination.”

Among the considerations, DeFillipis said, is prosecutors wanting to make sure everything they say is in compliance with Department of Justice policy.

A ruling on the competing arguments is expected early Thursday, with a decision from Sussmann soon after.

Sussmann is on trial for allegedly lying to the FBI when he took allegations concerning Trump and Russia to the bureau in September 2016. At the time, the lawyer said he was not bringing the information on behalf of any clients.

Sussmann later told a congressional panel that he received the information from a client and handed over the white papers and associated thumb drives to FBI lawyer James Baker on behalf of a client.

Sussmann’s lawyers have alleged that the FBI should have known he was representing Democrats, noting that officials were aware of Sussmann’s past involvement with the Democratic National Committee. The lawyers have also asserted that the alleged lie was immaterial to the actual information.

The FBI examined the information and found it did not support the claims about Trump. The CIA, who Sussmann later met with, also determined the information did not back up the allegations.

John Haughey
John Haughey has been a working journalist since 1978 with an extensive background in local government, state legislatures, and growth and development. A graduate of the University of Wyoming, he is a Navy veteran who fought fires at sea during three deployments aboard USS Constellation. He’s been a reporter for daily newspapers in California, Washington, Wyoming, New York, and Florida; a staff writer for Manhattan-based business trade publications.
Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber covers U.S. and world news. He is based in Maryland.