Judge rejects Sussmann’s request in Durham case

A federal judge has shot down a mistrial bid by attorneys for Hillary Clinton’s campaign attorney Michael Sussmann, who was sought after testimony showing he could take fifth at his trial for allegedly lying to the FBI.

US District Judge Christopher Cooper told Sussmann’s defense team and prosecutors he would deny the request Thursday morning – but agreed to remove part of the testimony in question from the trial record.

In their strike motion Wednesday night — “or alternatively for a trial” — Sussmann’s attorneys said cross-examination testimony from Marc Elias, the former general counsel of the Clinton campaign, was “unaccommodating and prejudicial.”

When asked by Sussmann’s attorney Sean Berkowitz if the embattled attorney leaked information to the FBI on behalf of the Clinton campaign, Elias replied, “You’d have to ask Mr. Sussmann.”

After Berkowitz completed his questioning, prosecutor Andrew DeFilippis pressed Elias for answers on a series of questions to which Sussmann’s defense objected.

In their filing, Sussmann’s attorneys argued that DeFilippi’s questions were “inappropriate” and “directly suggested to the jury that in order to answer a key question in this case, Mr. Sussmann would have to testify….”

“To comment, directly or indirectly, on a defendant’s decision to testify or not testify is wholly inappropriate,” they argued.

Special Counsel John Durham exits US federal court after opening arguments in the trial of Attorney Michael Sussmann, in which Durham is prosecuting Sussmann over allegations that Sussmann lied to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) while providing information about later discredited allegations of the Communications between the US delivered former US President Donald Trump and Russia's 2016 presidential election campaign in Washington, the United States, May 17, 2022.
Special Counsel John Durham is prosecuting Michael Sussmann on charges that Sussmann lied to the FBI while providing information about later discredited allegations of communications between former US President Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign and Russia.
REUTERS/Julia Nikhinson
Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton waves before receiving an honorary doctorate of law degree during the inauguration ceremony of Columbia University in Manhattan, New York City, May 18, 2022.
Michael Sussman was Hillary Clinton’s campaign attorney.
REUTERS/Andrew Kelly

In the motion, the defense asked Cooper to remove both Elias’s answers and the prosecution’s questions from the record — or allow a mistrial.

Cooper said Wednesday that he was “disinclined” to grant mistrial and urged attorneys to be ready to question witnesses.

Who’s who in this case

  • Michael Sussmann: cybersecurity attorney who worked for Hillary Clinton’s campaign in 2016; charged with lying to the FBI
  • Rodney Joffee: Former tech executive and Sussmann customer who told him about an alleged cyber back channel between the Trump Organization and Russia’s Alfa Bank
  • Christopher Steele: British ex-spy hired by Fusion GPS; compiled the infamous “Steele Dossier” with reports on Trump and Russia
  • John Durham: Special Counsel is investigating potential criminality in the state investigation into former President Donald Trump’s alleged ties to Russia
  • James A Baker: Former FBI General Counsel; Received information from Alfa-Bank from Sussmann
  • Markus Elias: General Counsel of the Clinton campaign, Sussmann’s former partner at the Perkins Coie law firm
  • Judge Christopher Cooper: Presiding over the Sussman trial in federal court in Washington, DC
  • Peter Fritsch and Glenn Simpson: Former Wall Street Journal reporters who co-founded research firm Fusion GPS; worked for Clinton’s campaign
  • Andrew McCabe: Former Deputy Director of the FBI; is said to have contradicted the charges against Sussmann at a briefing in 2017

Sussmann is accused of lying to the FBI in 2016 by telling FBI General Counsel James Baker that he was not acting on behalf of a client when he has since debunked information about an alleged secret connection between the Trump Organization and a Russian bank.

Special Counsel John Durham, who secured the indictment against Sussmann, alleges the attorney was actually acting on behalf of the Clinton campaign and an Internet executive, Rodney Joffe. Judge rejects Sussmann’s request in Durham case


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