Juror donations, judge’s family ties at Sussmann trial spotlight DC's liberal leanings

Presiding judge's wife represents former FBI lawyer Lisa Page, whose texts critical of then-presidential candidate Donald Trump led to her departure.

Updated: May 18, 2022 - 12:35am

The Facts Inside Our Reporter’s Notebook

The trial for 2016 Hillary Clinton presidential campaign lawyer Michael Sussmann this week in Washington, D.C., highlights the left-leaning of the nation's capital — with as many as three jurors reportedly having donated to the Clinton campaign.

A fourth juror on the 12-member panel supported New York Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, according to the New York Post.

In addition, presiding federal judge Christopher Cooper says he and Sussmann were "professional acquaintances" while at the Justice Department in the 1990s. And the judge's wife represents former FBI lawyer Lisa Page.

Page exchanged text messages critical of then-GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump during the 2016 campaign with then-FBI agent Peter Strzok, with whom she was having an extra-marital affair.

The District of Columbia votes overwhelmingly for Democratic candidates, with Democrats outnumbering Republican voters 76.5% to 5.4%, according to the most recent figures from the city's Board of Elections.

In 2016, D.C. voters favored Clinton over Trump, 90.9% to 4.1%.

Special Counsel John Durham's team objected to putting one Clinton donor on the jury after the man said he would "strive for impartiality as best I can," the Post also reported.

However, the prosecutors were overruled by Cooper, of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, who said the Clinton supporter "expressed a high degree of confidence" that he wouldn't be biased.

Judges can remove prospective jurors if through questioning it appears they're not suited to sit on the jury for various reasons, including an inability to be impartial.

Durham, who was appointed special counsel in October 2020 by the Justice Department, is charging Sussmann as part of an ongoing investigation into the origins and conduct of the government's probe of alleged ties between Donald Trump and Russia.

Sussmann is on trial for allegedly lying to the FBI at a September 2016 meeting in which he presented the agency with information insinuating Trump-Russia links. 

Sussmann, who at the time was a partner at Perkins Coie law firm that represented the Clinton campaign, allegedly said he came to the FBI on his own behalf and did not disclose that the campaign and a tech industry client connected to Russia-collusion narrative were clients, at least one of whom he was billing.

Sussman has pleaded not guilty to the charge. Opening arguments for the case began Tuesday.

Roughly one-third of the potential jurors questioned by prosecutors and defense attorneys in the Washington, D.C. courtroom on Monday said they had said they had either donated to Clinton's campaign, worked the phone banks for her, or did something else to support her candidacy, the Washington Times reported.

Others said they thought they had donated to the Clinton campaign but weren't sure, but none of the avowed Clinton supporters made the final jury, the Times reports.

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