Special counsel Durham says just learning about Justice watchdog Horowitz, Sussmann's 2017 meeting

In a new filing, Durham's team says the DOJ Inspector General was slow to fork over evidence pertaining to the Trump-Alfa Bank investigation
Image
John Durham
Special Counsel John Durham.
Justice Department

Special counsel John Durham and his legal team say they're just learning about a March 2017 meeting between Justice Department watchdog Michael Horowitz and former Hillary Clinton campaign Michael Sussmann – indicted last year for allegedly lying to the FBI while pushing now-discredited claims about the Trump Organization.

Durham's team said Tuesday in a court filing they learned only a week ago about the meeting between Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz and Sussmann, who made the claims in 2016 about communications between a Russia bank and the Trump organization.

"The OIG had not previously informed the Special Counsel’s Office of this meeting with the defendant," the filing by Durham's legal team states.

Sussmann, a former partner at the Perkins Coie law firm, has pleaded not guilty to the charges. 

Durham's team says that while Sussmann was pushing the claims to the FBI about communications between the Trump Organization and Alfa Bank he told agents that he was not working on behalf of any particular client.

However, Sussmann had in fact been working on behalf of the Clinton campaign and billing his time to her camp.

Durham says he met with Horowitz in October of 2021 and afterward requested information and documents relevant to the origins of the Russia investigation. However, Horowitz failed to reveal that he had personally met with Sussmann in March 2017, Durham claims. 

Durham also said he learned just this month that Horowitz was in possession of two FBI cellphones belonging to the bureau's general counsel, James Baker, the FBI official to whom Sussmann allegedly first lied.

The court filing this week also details the successful attempts of British former spy Christopher Steele to disseminate the Trump-Alfa Bank claims to the media and various high-ranking government officials. In late 2016, Obama administration officials forwarded the claims made by Steele about Alfa Bank to the FBI.

In British court, Steele has testified that it was Sussmann who provided him with claims about the Russian bank's supposed ties Russian President Vladimir Putin. 

Eventually, the Horowitz report from December 2019 would clarify that by early 2017, the FBI knew there were no connections between Alfa Bank and the Trump Organization.