Clinton Lawyer, FBI Official Texted for Years After Meeting

Clinton Lawyer, FBI Official Texted for Years After Meeting
Michael Sussmann and James Baker in file photographs. (Teng Chen/The Epoch Times; Department of Justice)
Zachary Stieber

The Hillary Clinton campaign lawyer who took sketchy allegations to the FBI ahead of the 2016 election maintained communication via text messages with an FBI official for years afterward, including sharing an Epoch Times article, newly published messages show.

The lawyer, Michael Sussmann, took claims about then-presidential candidate Donald Trump and Russia to then-FBI counsel James Baker in September 2016.

Sussmann was later charged with lying to the FBI because he told the bureau that he wasn’t providing the information on behalf of a client when both he and his firm, Perkins Coie, later said he did act on behalf of a client. Sussmann was acquitted on May 31.

In a Sept. 18, 2016, text, Sussmann wrote to Baker telling the FBI lawyer that he had something “time-sensitive (and sensitive)” to discuss and asked to meet the following day.

“I’m coming on my own—not on behalf of a client or company—and want to help the Bureau,” Sussmann wrote.

The pair met the next day alone in Baker’s office.

The communication between the men—Baker has described Sussmann as a friend—didn’t stop there, according to the newly released messages, which were entered as an exhibit in Sussmann’s trial.

Two days later, Sussmann said he had received a request from Baker and expected to have an answer soon. He didn’t say what the request was.

Later in September 2016, Sussmann told Baker that he suspected that a story about the allegations may be published soon. Sussmann and others linked to Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign had been seeding the information to multiple media outlets, including Slate and The New York Times. Both outlets soon published stories about the data.

About two years went by before the next message. Sussmann and Baker met again, with the discussion appearing to include a story the New Yorker was working on.

“Jim, FYI, New Yorker story pushed back one week. Will go live next Sunday,” Sussmann wrote on Sept. 29, 2018. “Great seeing you this week. We'll be back in touch soon. Michael.”

Baker responded, “Thanks. Great to see you as well. Looking forward to continuing the conversation.”

Special counsel John Durham arrives at federal court in Washington on May 18, 2022. (Teng Chen for The Epoch Times)
Special counsel John Durham arrives at federal court in Washington on May 18, 2022. (Teng Chen for The Epoch Times)
Sussmann sent the link to the story when it was published about a week later. The story claimed that the information that was uncovered by researchers and handed over to the FBI “raised vexing questions” about Trump and Russia. The FBI had over a year earlier determined that the allegations were unsubstantiated, while the CIA had determined that they weren’t “technically plausible.” Like the other stories, the New Yorker article remains uncorrected.

Two days after the article went online, protesters gathered outside Perkins Coie’s office in Bellevue, Washington. He sent Baker a picture of two protesters and a sign saying: “Sussmann, Baker, and Steele. Perkins Coie d'etat? End British coup on Trump!”

Steele refers to ex-British spy Christopher Steele, who compiled a dossier on Trump that claimed nefarious connections with Russia. The dossier, now discredited, but widely promoted by Democrats for years, included the same claims regarding a purported link between The Trump Organization and Russia’s Alfa Bank.

“Wow. Thanks,” Baker said.

It’s not clear whether Baker had informed Sussmann that he sat for interviews under oath before the House Judiciary and Oversight committees on Oct. 3, 2018. Baker would speak again with the panels on Oct. 18, 2018. Sussmann had spoken with lawmakers in late 2017.

More material began appearing naming Sussmann, and the lawyer was keen to keep Baker apprised. He sent an image of a Wall Street Journal article, “Who Is Michael Sussmann?” and a letter to the editor from a Perkins Coie managing partner, John Devaney, in which Devaney said Sussmann is “an honorable man” but acknowledged that Sussmann met with Baker “on behalf of a client.”

That client had “no connections to either the Clinton campaign, the [Democratic National Committee], or any other Political Law Group client,” Devaney wrote in an apparent reference to Rodney Joffe, a technology executive whom Sussmann also represented in 2016.

Joffe helped put together the Trump–Russia allegations. He has said that he was promised a position in the government if Clinton had beaten Trump in the election.

“Let’s talk next week about the future,” Sussmann said in sharing the letter to the editor.

“Ok let’s talk next week. Take care,” Baker said.

The men started playing phone tag in December 2018 in an attempt to speak, messages show. Baker even provided a phone number for when he would be traveling in Israel.

(Special Counsel John Durham's Office via The Epoch Times)
(Special Counsel John Durham's Office via The Epoch Times)

In January 2019, Sussmann alerted Baker that his firm was contacted for comment for a Fox News story, which detailed how Baker was personally involved in obtaining warrants to spy on Trump campaign associate Carter Page and his handling of the Trump–Russia allegations and a missive Trump posted about the article.

He also sent a link to an Epoch Times article that was based on Baker’s testimony to Congress. The transcripts weren’t publicly available at the time. The article “is worth a read,” Sussmann wrote.

Baker didn’t respond.

In June 2019, Sussmann revealed that he had become aware that Baker met with Joffe the day prior. Baker didn’t disabuse him of the notion. Joffe, who worked with the FBI for years, was terminated as an FBI source, it was revealed during Sussmann’s trial.

Sussmann and Baker met in person for lunch in Washington on July 12, 2019.

Sussmann in May 2020 offered congratulations to Baker, who had been hired by Twitter as a counsel.

“I’ve been working with them for 10 years and I love the company,” Sussmann said.

Baker thanked Sussmann but told him not to reveal the news, as it hadn’t been made public yet.

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