Special prosecutor John Durham has charged Washington-based lawyer Michael Sussmann, who represented former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and the Democratic National Committee, with lying to the FBI during Clinton’s 2016 campaign.
Sussmann works for the high-powered law firm Perkins Coie—which has long done legal work for the Democratic Party and top Democrats, including filing election-related lawsuits.
Sussmann met with Baker to hand over papers and data files containing evidence of the alleged link between the Trump Organization and the Russian bank, which wasn’t disclosed. Unconfirmed media reports have stated that it was Alfa Bank.
The indictment is the second criminal case brought by Durham since he was named by former Attorney General William Barr in 2018 to investigate officials who investigated the Trump–Russia probe. Durham, a former U.S. attorney, was asked to stay as a special counsel and continue his investigation after President Joe Biden’s administration took office in January.
Sussmann, the indictment alleges, didn’t turn over the information as a “good citizen,” but rather as an attorney representing Clinton, a technology executive, and an internet company.
“Sussmann’s lie was material because, among other reasons, Sussmann’s false statement misled the FBI General Counsel and other FBI personnel concerning the political nature of his work and deprived the FBI of information that might have permitted it more fully to assess and uncover the origins of the relevant data and technical analysis,” the indictment reads.
About a month later, The New York Times and other news outlets reported on the FBI investigation into the alleged Alfa Bank–Trump Organization connection. The FBI said it looked into the matter, but found no connections.
Trump and other former administration officials have long described the FBI investigation into his campaign as a witch hunt designed to politically wound his reelection chances.
Lawyers for Sussmann, a former federal prosecutor, said on Sept. 16 that their client never made false statements to the FBI and that there’s no evidence that the alleged falsehood affected the agency’s work.
“Mr. Sussmann has committed no crime,” they said in a statement, according to The Associated Press. “Any prosecution here 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.”
In 2017, Sussmann was asked by congressional investigators about his interview with Baker and testified that he passed along information on behalf of his client.
Representatives for Perkins Coie and Sussmann’s lawyers didn’t respond to requests for comment by press time.