The special prosecutor probing the origins of the federal investigation into ties between the Trump campaign and Russia, John Durham, has charged Washington lawyer Michael Sussmann with lying to the FBI during the early stages of the inquiry.
Sussmann, who worked through his firm as an attorney for the Hillary Clinton campaign, is accused in a grand jury indictment returned Thursday of a single felony count of making a false statement during a September 2016 meeting with FBI General Counsel James Baker.
Prosecutors allege Sussmann lied by denying that he was representing any client as he told the FBI about digital evidence allegedly linking computers in Trump Tower to Russia’s Alfa Bank. The FBI subsequently investigated the purported link but found “insufficient evidence” to support it, prosecutors say.
Shortly after the indictment was announced, the law firm where he was a partner, Perkins Coie, said it had accepted Sussmann’s resignation. In a statement issued prior to the indictment, Sussmann’s lawyers insisted that their client was innocent and they suggested that politics were at work in the decision to charge their client.
SCOOP: The case against Mr. Sussmann centers on the question of whom his client was when he conveyed certain suspicions about Mr. Trump and Russia to the F.B.I. in September 2016. w/@charlie_savage @nytmike @WRashbaum https://t.co/jJk60Jf4Ti
— Adam Goldman (@adamgoldmanNYT) September 15, 2021
“Mr. Sussmann has committed no crime,” defense attorneys Sean Berkowitz and Michael Bosworth said in the statement. “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.”