Clinton senior campaign team leaves cohort Sussmann in tough spot ahead of Durham trial
New filings in special counsel probe show Clinton team claiming attorney-client privilege to "hide evidence of all their wrongdoing," said Kash Patel, former chief investigator of House Intel Committee Russia investigation.
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Former top Hillary Clinton presidential campaign officials are leaving onetime Clinton campaign lawyer Michael Sussmann to bear the brunt of the blame for orchestrating the now-debunked claim that Donald Trump and his associates colluded with the Russian government in the 2016 race, new court filings show.
Requests to intervene in the case were filed late Tuesday by the Clinton campaign, campaign chairman John Podesta, campaign manager Robby Mook, and law firm Perkins Coie, which represented the campaign.
In his prosecution of Sussmann on a charge of lying to the FBI, special counsel John Durham has been seeking certain documents that are being withheld by the campaign and Perkins Coie under claims of attorney-client privilege and work product protection.
"Hillary for America [HFA] 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.
Mook, Podesta, and Perkins Coie all similarly cited attorney-client privilege in their filings seeking to block the release of communications concerning their research on alleged Trump-Russia ties.
"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. "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."
Fusion GPS was the opposition research firm hired by Perkins Coie to help the Clinton campaign dig up dirt on Trump.
The new filings are expected to hurt Sussmann's defense in his trial, scheduled to begin next month, with many key players connected to the Russia collusion hoax attempting to distance themselves from Durham's probe — and thereby putting much of the onus on Sussmann.
Legal experts told Just the News that Clinton's former team and its allies are attempting to prevent damaging evidence that could potentially implicate them in wrongdoing in the Trump-Russia saga from coming to light.
"In effect, they are making a bogus attorney client-privilege claim to hide evidence of all their wrongdoing," said Kash Patel, former chief investigator of the Russia investigation under then-House Intelligence Committee Chair Rep. Devin Nunes. "We knew it when I took their congressional depositions under oath. Now [Special Counsel] John Durham puts it all on display, and the world is finally paying attention."
Patel noted that Sussmann is left in the position to take much of the blame for the Russia hoax.
Durham was appointed special counsel in October 2020 to investigate the origins of the FBI's Trump-Russia collusion probe. He's prosecuting Sussmann on a charge that the high-powered attorney, who was a partner at Perkins Coie, lied to the FBI at a September 2016 meeting in which he presented the agency with information insinuating concealed Trump-Russia links.
Sussman has pleaded not guilty to the charge.
Earlier this month, Durham said in a separate court filing that Sussmann texted an FBI official the night before the 2016 meeting saying, "I'm coming on my own — not on behalf of a client or company — want to help the bureau."
Durham has called Sussmann's claims that he was not meeting with the FBI on behalf of any clients a "lie," hiding from the bureau that the Trump-Russia claims originally came from Clinton's 2016 campaign and a tech executive linked to the campaign.
According to Durham, the tech executive, Rodney Joffe, aided the Clinton campaign by monitoring Trump's internet activities and mining data "for the purpose of gathering derogatory information about Donald Trump" — and to create a "narrative" that Trump secretly communicated with the Kremlin. Joffe allegedly shared the information with Sussmann.
Sussmann's defense has asked Durham to grant immunity to Joffe, so that he can testify about his interactions with Sussmann regarding the 2016 meeting. Durham has refused.
The Sussmann trial is part of a broader investigation by Durham, who alleges some of the dirt on Trump that the Clinton campaign shared with the government is false.
Much of the false Trump-Russia narrative was assembled after Perkins hired Fusion GPS, which went on to solicit former MI6 agent Christopher Steele to create the infamous and discredited Steele dossier, which contained several salacious and since-debunked claims about Trump.
Fusion GPS was also asked to disclose documents for the Sussmann trial and submitted a filing on Tuesday asserting attorney-client privilege in order to avoid complying.
"The documents the government seeks to compel were created as part of the work Fusion performed in support of Perkins's legal representation of HFA and DNC [Democratic National Committee], which is protected by both work-product protection and the attorney-client privilege," the filing read.
Fusion GPS also claimed in its motion that it was retained by then-Perkins Coie partner Marc Elias, a top DNC election attorney, not to find dirt on Trump but rather to help Perkins in the event that Trump filed lawsuits against the Clinton campaign, DNC, or their allies.
Elias had a "reasonable concern about Mr. Trump's litigiousness given his numerous threats of and actual litigation against his critics," Fusion said in its filing. "Indeed, that concern was prescient, with Mr. Trump having recently launched litigation seeking tens of millions of dollars against every interested party here."
However, more than $1 million flowed from the Clinton campaign and DNC to Perkins, which hired Fusion, which in turn asked Steele to use his overseas contacts to dig up dirt on Trump. The DNC and Clinton campaign were fined by the Federal Election Commission last month for lying about how they used money to fund the Steele Dossier.
Fusion said in its Tuesday filing that the government hasn't proved the documents it seeks are relevant to its narrow indictment of Sussmann for lying to the FBI. That claim doesn't hold water, according to Patel, a former federal prosecutor.
In trying to get his charge dismissed by a federal court, "Sussmann said his lie was immaterial" to Durham's probe," explained Patel. "Durham is saying no, I have this info to say why this lie is material."
The documents Durham is seeking, added Patel, will show materiality and are therefore relevant to the trial.
Mook, Podesta, Elias, the DNC, and Perkins Coie all didn't respond to requests for comment.