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Top 5 revelations from trial of ex-Clinton campaign lawyer Michael Sussmann

Trial has been filled with surprises — from an FBI investigator's testimony that he quickly discounted the Alfa Bank allegation to a confession by top Clinton campaign lawyer Marc Elias that he didn't trust the FBI.

Published: May 18, 2022 10:03pm

Updated: May 19, 2022 10:28pm

The trial of former Hillary Clinton campaign lawyer Michael Sussmann has been filled with surprising twists.

Special Counsel John Durham has charged Sussmann with lying to the FBI, alleging that in September 2016 he pitched a Trump-Russia collusion tale to FBI General Counsel James Baker without disclosing he was working for the Clinton campaign, suggesting instead he was there as a good citizen. Sussmann, a former federal prosecutor, has pleaded not guilty to the charge. If found guilty, he faces up to five years in prison.

Here are the top five revelations from the Sussmann trial, the first trial to emerge out of the Durham probe into the murky origins of the investigation of now-debunked allegations of Trump-Russia collusion to fix the 2016 presdential election:

  1. Allegation "didn't ring true," dismissed "inside of a day"  Special Agent Scott Hellman testified on Tuesday that the FBI's analysis of DNS data on Alfa Bank and Trump Organization email servers given to the agency by Sussmann was done "inside of a day." He said he quickly realized that the allegation of a secret communications link between the Trump Organization and the bank with Kremlin ties "didn't ring true at all."
  2. "Ask Sussman" Top 2016 Clinton campaign lawyer Marc Elias said under defense cross-examination on Wednesday to "ask Sussmann if he went to the FBI on behalf of the campaign." He added that, from his standpoint, Sussmann didn't go to the FBI about the allegation on behalf of the Clinton campaign, and he believes Sussmann didn't tell him about the meeting until shortly after it occurred.
  3. FBI couldn't be trusted Elias also claimed that he didn't trust the FBI enough to bring them the Alfa Bank allegation because they "didn't do anything" to stop the release of the hacked DNC server emails. He added that he believed then-FBI Director James Comey had taken "unfair" public stances related to the Hillary Clinton emails scandal.
  4. "Not out to get" defendant — Former FBI General Counsel James Baker testified Wednesday he was "not out to get Michael." He described Sussmann as a friend and colleague and said he was just answering questions, underscoring that that this was the prosecution's investigation, not his.
  5. Durham didn't bully witness Baker said under defense cross-examination on Thursday that Durham had not threatened to prosecute him for perjury. The defense asked Baker if Durham had threatened to prosecute him for lying under oath to the FBI regarding a "mistake" he made in his testimony to the Justice Department Office of Inspector General, when he said that Sussmann told him he was meeting him on behalf of clients who were cybersecurity experts.

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