Testimony: Clinton team didn’t approve FBI attorney’s meeting

WASHINGTON (AP) — Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign did not allow a lawyer to meet with the FBI and provide information intended to cast suspicion on rival candidate Donald Trump and his possible ties to Russia, according to testimony. at trial on Wednesday.

Michael Sussmann, a 2016 Clinton campaign lawyer, is accused of lying to the FBI during a meeting in which he presented the top lawyer in the office with data purporting to show mysterious contacts…

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WASHINGTON (AP) — Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign did not allow a lawyer to meet with the FBI and provide information intended to cast suspicion on rival candidate Donald Trump and his possible ties to Russia, according to testimony. at trial on Wednesday.

Michael Sussmann, a 2016 Clinton campaign attorney, is accused of lying to the FBI during a meeting in which he presented the bureau’s top lawyer with data purporting to show a mysterious contact between Clinton’s computer servers. a Russian-based bank and Trump’s company, the Trump Organization.

Prosecutors say Sussmann misled the FBI by saying he was not attending the meeting on behalf of a particular client when he was actually there on behalf of the Clinton campaign and another client, a technology manager who had provided him with the data.

But when questioned by one of Sussmann’s lawyers, Marc Elias, the campaign’s top lawyer, said Sussmann had not asked for his consent to surrender to the FBI. Elias said neither he nor anyone else from the campaign he was aware of had allowed Sussmann to meet with the FBI.

In fact, he said he wouldn’t have supported going to the FBI because he felt the bureau hadn’t been aggressive enough to stop Russia’s continued leaks of hacked emails. that had been stolen during the Clinton campaign, and because he saw then-executive James Comey as putting a “thumbs up” against Clinton during an earlier investigation into his use of a private mail server then that she was secretary of state.

“I’m not sure I would have thought the FBI was going to give a fair jolt to anything they thought was anti-Trump or pro-Clinton,” Elias said.

The defense team’s questioning was intended to steer Sussmann away from the Clinton campaign and attempt to establish that he had not lied to the FBI by saying he did not represent the interests of a particular client during the the meeting of September 19, 2016.

At that meeting, Sussmann presented then-FBI General Counsel James Baker with a computer search that he said showed potential contact between Alfa Bank servers and the Trump Organization. If proven, this information would have been important given that the FBI was investigating at the time whether the Trump campaign and Russia were coordinating to influence the outcome of the election.

But when the FBI reviewed the data, they found no secret channels and nothing suspicious.

Earlier Wednesday, prosecutors sought to link Sussmann’s work to the campaign by noting that as a lawyer in private practice he repeatedly billed the campaign for meetings and legal work.

When Baker himself testified at the end of the day, prosecutors entered into evidence a text Sussmann had sent him the day before the meeting in which he requested an interview on an unspecified sensitive matter and said he would come alone and not on behalf of any particular client.

Defense attorneys told jurors that Sussmann never lied and that it was impossible for prosecutors to prove precisely what he said because only he and Baker attended the meeting and neither of them had taken notes. But by presenting the text message to the jury, prosecutors are trying to refute any defense efforts to undermine Baker’s credibility as a witness or his memory of what was said.

The case against Sussmann was brought by John Durham, the prosecutor appointed special counsel during the Trump administration to investigate potential misconduct by government officials and others during the early days of the FBI’s investigation into the Russian interference in the 2016 US presidential election and potential ties to the Trump campaign.

Durham has filed three criminal charges and the Sussmann case is the first to go to trial. A previous case against an FBI attorney accused of altering an email ended in a plea deal in 2020, and another case against an analyst accused of lying to the FBI is ongoing.

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Follow Eric Tucker at http://www.twitter.com/etuckerAP

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