A federal grand jury indicted a former attorney for the Democratic National Committee Thursday, alleging that he falsely claimed to the FBI that he was not advising Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign when he raised concerns about purported ties between the Trump Organization and a Russian bank.
The case against Michael Sussmann, a cybersecurity lawyer at powerful Democratic firm Perkins Coie, is just the second prosecution brought by special counsel John Durham.
Sussmann is accused of a single count of making a false statement to federal authorities on Sept. 19, 2016. The indictment was returned just three days short of the expiration of the five-year statute of limitations.
According to the indictment, Sussmann met with then-FBI General Counsel James A. Baker on that date to pass along allegations that servers at the Trump Organization were connected to servers at Alfa-Bank, a Moscow-based financial institution. During their conversation, Sussmann allegedly told Baker that “he was not acting on behalf of any client, which led the FBI General Counsel to understand that Sussmann was conveying the allegations as a good citizen and not as an advocate.”
“In fact …” the indictment states, “in assembling and conveying these allegations, Sussmann acted on behalf of specific clients,” including the Clinton campaign.
The FBI investigated the purported link between the Trump organization and Alfa-Bank and found “insufficient evidence” to support it. The indictment notes that the server in question “was not owned or operated by the Trump Organization, but, rather, had been administered by a mass marketing email company that sent advertisements for Trump’s hotels and hundreds of other clients.”
Durham, a former Connecticut US Attorney, was tasked by then-Attorney General Bill Barr in May 2019 with looking into the origins of the FBI’s investigation into claims Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign coordinated with Russian government officials.