Ex-FBI lawyer rebuffs effort by Sussmann defense to paint Durham as bully

Under defense cross-examination in the Michael Sussmann trial, James Baker denied that Special Counsel John Durham had threatened to charge him with perjury.
John Durham

Former FBI General Counsel James Baker rebuffed a defense effort Thursday in the Michael Sussmann trial to paint Special Counsel John Durham as a threatening bully.

Under defense cross-examination in the trial of former Clinton campaign lawyer Michael Sussmann, Baker denied that Durham had threatened to charge him with perjury.

Sussmann's lawyer Sean Berkowitz asked prosecution witness Baker if Durham had threatened to charge him with perjury for giving an inaccurate statement under oath to the Department of Justice Office of the Inspector General. Baker replied that he had not been threatened by Durham.

Berkowitz was referring to Baker's statement to the DOJ OIG that Sussmann had met with him regarding the Trump-Russia allegations on behalf of clients who were cybersecurity experts. Baker explained that his statement to the DOJ was "inaccurate," "imprecise," and a "mistake," but not a lie, as he was just summarizing what he said was already in transcripts from his testimony to Congress in October 2018.

Durham has charged Sussmann with lying to the FBI when he allegedly told Baker in September 2016 that he was not working on behalf of any client while bringing him since-debunked allegations of a secret communications channel between the Trump Organization and Russia's Alfa Bank.

Durham argues that at the time, Sussmann was working on behalf of two clients — the Clinton campaign and then-Neustar tech firm executive Rodney Joffe.