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Jury Begins Deliberations In Durham Trial of Clinton Lawyer Sussmann

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OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.


Former campaign attorney for Hillary Clinton’s failed bid for the presidency in 2016, Michael Sussman, is about to learn his fate.

Special counsel John Durham and his team rested its case on Friday after Sussman declined to testify on his own behalf and the jury was then sent into deliberations, The Wall Street Journal reported.

The verdict in this case, likely to not be the last prosecution in the three year investigation, should come next week.

“This is a case about misdirection,” Sussman’s attorney Sean Berkowitz saying that prosecutors made a mountain from a molehill in transforming a short meeting Sussman had with the FBI’s general counsel into a “giant political conspiracy theory.”

Prosecutors disagreed.

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It wasn’t about national security, it was about promoting opposition research against the opposition candidate, Donald Trump,” prosecutor Jonathan Algor said.

The Wall Street Journal reported.

In September, the special counsel’s office obtained an indictment of Mr. Sussmann that accused him of misrepresenting his motivation for providing information to the Federal Bureau of Investigation about a purported secret computer connection between a server connected to Mr. Trump’s company and a Russian bank. Mr. Sussmann’s lie, prosecutors allege, is that he said he was turning the material over to the bureau out of civic concern rather than on behalf of his clients, which included the presidential campaign of Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton.

FBI investigators dismissed the server allegations within weeks in 2016, but the episode has continued to reverberate for years. Mr. Sussmann pleaded not guilty and has maintained he provided the information to the FBI based on genuine U.S. national-security concerns, even though he had separately worked on the research on behalf of the Clinton campaign. “Mr. Sussmann is a serious national-security lawyer,” Mr. Berkowitz said in his closing arguments, adding his client had felt compelled to pass on “what he believed to be credible data” from a top expert.

More then a week ago Sussman did not get the news he wanted to hear from a federal judge.

Sussman’s attorney’s were considering asking for a mistrial in what is Special Counsel John Durham’s first case in connection with the investigation into how the Russia collusion investigation into former President Donald Trump was started but the federal judge on the case said he was “not inclined” to grant a mistrial.

Sean Berkowitz , Sussman’s attorney,  said that she was prepared to argue for a mistrial on Thursday because of a back-and-forth that happened during an hours-long questioning and testimony of Marc Elias, who was a former Clinton campaign general counsel, Fox News reported.

At one point during cross-examination by the defense, Elias was asked whether Sussmann went to the FBI in September 2016 with data alleging a covert communications channel between Donald Trump and Russia’s Alfa Bank on behalf of the Hillary Clinton campaign.

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“I think you’d have to ask Mr. Sussmann,” Elias said.

Later, the prosecution brought Sussmann’s response up — a move the defense said violates Sussmann’s rights.

U.S. District Judge Christopher Cooper on Wednesday, though, seemed unimpressed.

“You should be prepared to deal with witnesses [tomorrow],” the judge said. “I am not inclined to grant a mistrial.”

“After hours of Elias’s testimony Wednesday, the government called former FBI General Counsel James Baker to the stand. Baker was questioned for about 45 minutes. Baker is expected to be questioned by the government for the better part of the morning on Thursday, as well as cross-examination from the defense. Baker falls at the center of the trial, as Sussmann is charged with making a false statement to the FBI when he told Baker in September 2016 — less than two months before the presidential election — that he was not doing work “for any client” when he requested and attended a meeting with Baker where he presented “purported data and ‘white papers’ that allegedly demonstrated a covert communicates channel” between the Trump Organization and Alfa Bank, which has ties to the Kremlin,” Fox News reported.

Earlier this month Judge Cooper, an Obama appointee, ruled that Durham’s office must limit evidence and testimony that he planned to use in the trial of Democratic lawyer Michael Sussmann to show the combined effort involving Hillary Clinton’s campaign, several Democratic operatives, a private political opposition research firm, and a number of technology researchers, National Review reported.

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