A lawyer for
The jury verdict in favor of
FBI officials said Sussmann falsely claimed he wasn’t representing a client when he handed over what he described as evidence of a suspicious communications link between computer servers at Trump Tower and a Russia-based bank tied to the Kremlin. The agency debunked the theory, but not before the media held it out as possible evidence of collusion. Sussmann’s lawyers said he’d offered the tip as a concerned citizen, not at the behest of the Clinton campaign.
“I told the truth to the FBI, and the jury clearly recognized that with their unanimous verdict today,” Sussmann told reporters outside the courthouse. “Despite being falsely accused, I am relieved that justice ultimately prevailed in this case.”
Sussmann’s trial was the first stemming from Special Counsel
After the verdict was read, Sussmann nodded his head, and then walked over to hug his children and his wife.
Durham didn’t respond to questions as he left the courtroom, but issued an emailed statement: “While we are disappointed in the outcome, we respect the jury’s decision and thank them for their service. I also want to recognize and thank the investigators and the prosecution team for their dedicated efforts in seeking truth and justice in this case.”
Former federal prosecutor Jennifer Rodgers said the verdict wasn’t a surprise to her.
“False statement cases are notoriously difficult to win for the government,” especially since the evidence presented by prosecutors in this case was weak, Rodgers said. “Which, of course, raises the excellent question of why this case was brought in the first place?”
Durham and Trump’s Justice Department appear to have been politically motivated to pursue the case, while Attorney General
“Obviously, not all of what Durham has been doing is public, so it’s possible there are real cases there,” Rodgers said. But if not, Garland should pull the plug, she added. “It’s a waste of time and taxpayer money to allow Trump’s vendetta to continue to play out in our Justice system.”
The server theory stemmed from a prominent cybersecurity expert, Rodney Joffe, who presented it to Sussmann. Joffe purportedly discovered the server link after mining publicly available communications data. Sussmann, who knew Joffe, brought the data to the attention of Clinton campaign general counsel and fellow Perkins Coie partner
Clinton campaign manager
More than a dozen witnesses offered
Sussmann’s defense hinged on his claim that he wasn’t technically representing the Clinton campaign or any other client when he brought the tip to the FBI, even though he allegedly billed the campaign for his time at the meeting. He also argued that the alleged lie didn’t matter, because the FBI was well aware of his ties to the Democratic National Committee and Clinton.
No one from the Clinton campaign or Fusion GPS were accused of wrongdoing.
Defense lawyers argued that the tip about the server was important even if they weren’t sure about its accuracy. The theory was developed at a time when Trump’s unusual ties to Russia had become a matter of public concern. While the server theory was discredited, other connections between Trump and Russia turned out to be true, as outlined in Special Counsel
“Michael Sussmann should never have been charged in the first place,” his attorneys,
(Updates with comment from Rodgers)
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Steve Stroth, Joe Schneider
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