Blocking evidence: Clinton campaign tries to keep memos from Durham's upcoming trial

Clinton campaign and its top two former officials, John Podesta and Robby Mook, argue evidence about its Russia dirt digging on Trump should be protected by attorney-client privilege.

Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign and its former top officials are intervening in Special Counsel John Durham’s investigation, seeking to block the release of memos about its Russia research on Donald Trump on grounds that it is covered by attorney-client privilege.

The requests were filed late Tuesday by the campaign, its former chairman John Podesta, its former campaign manager Robby Mook and its former law firm Perkins Coie, coming about a month before the start of former campaign lawyer Michael Sussmann’s trial on a charge of lying to the FBI.

“Hillary for America respectfully moves this honorable court to intervene as an interested non party to assert privilege claims over documents and information that the government seeks to compel,” the campaign wrote in its motion.

The motion is designed to block evidence of the campaign's work with former MI6 agent Christopher Steele and the firm Fusion GPS to dig up dirt on Trump alleging Russia collusion, some of which was later shared with the FBI and CIS by Sussmann.

Durham alleges some of the Trump dirt the campaign shared with the government was false and that Sussmann lied to conceal the fact he approached the FBI on behalf of the campaign and a tech executive linked to the campaign. Sussmann has pleaded innocent.

To support its claims that the materials sought by Durham in the case against Sussmann are covered by attorney-client privilege, the campaign offered sworn declarations by Podesta and Mook confirming they used Perkins Coie to handle its opposition research on Trump.

"At all times relevant to the government’s pending motion to compel and continuing through August 2021, Perkins Coie served as general counsel to HFA," Podesta testified in his declaration. "To my knowledge, Perkins Coie has consistently maintained the confidentiality of documents and information covered by the attorney-client privilege and the attorney-work-product doctrine."

He also said: "HFA asserts its attorney-client privilege and the attorney-work-product protection with respect to all documents and information under the control of Perkins Coie or any of its consultants, including Fusion GPS. HFA is not waiving any of its privileges." 

Mook gave a similar statement but added one declaration that Podesta did not, denying knowledge that Fusion or Steele had been hired.

"Although I was not aware during the campaign of any contractors that Perkins Coie engaged to assist in it in providing legal services and legal advice regarding this work, I did believe through the campaign that whatever work Perkins Coie performed, either through its own professionals or through any contractors it may have engaged to assist the work was done,  for the purpose of providing legal services and legal advice to HFA," Mook wrote in his declaration.