Special counsel John Durham issued trial subpoenas for members of Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign and the Democratic National Committee as he pushed his theory of a “joint venture” in the case against Democratic cybersecurity lawyer Michael Sussmann, who represented the Clinton campaign, and Rodney Joffe.
Clinton’s campaign, the DNC, the opposition research firm Fusion GPS, and the Perkins Coie law firm are fighting Durham’s efforts to compel the submission of withheld documents, arguing their claims of attorney-client privilege should keep the records concealed. However, Durham is continuing his legal pressure as he insists those groups played a coordinated role in pushing false Trump-Russia collusion claims.
Fusion “was not primarily providing or supporting expertise relating to legal advice; instead, it appears that the investigative firm’s primary, if not sole, function was to generate opposition research materials that the firm then shared widely,” Durham said this month.
“Meeting to agree on the express goal of a joint venture is precisely what happened here, on more than one occasion,” the special counsel said early Saturday morning.
“Tech Executive-1” Rodney Joffe, “Originator-1” April Lorenzen of the information services firm Zetalytics, and other researchers began to discuss “searching for and collecting derogatory internet data about the online activities of Donald Trump and his associates“ in June 2016, Durham said, adding Lorenzen “assembled and shared initial purported data” with Joffe, “who, in turn, shared the data“ with Sussmann.
“The joint venture continued and crystallized early in August 2016,” when Sussmann, Joffe, and “agents of the Clinton Campaign” met, Durham said, pointing to an Aug. 12, 2016, meeting where Sussmann, Joffe, Elias, and the co-founder of Fusion met in Elias’s office to discuss “the same Russian Bank-1 allegations that the defendant would later bring to the FBI.”
“The parties agreed to conduct work in the hope that it would benefit the Clinton Campaign, namely, gathering and disseminating purportedly derogatory data regarding Trump and his associates’ internet activities,” Durham wrote. “The evidence will show that as a result of these conversations and during this same time period, Tech Executive-1 did exactly that: he tasked employees from multiple Internet companies and a university working under a pending national security contract to mine and gather vast amounts of internet metadata in order to support an ‘inference’ and ‘narrative’ tying the candidate to Russia.”
Joffe continued the joint venture via an Aug. 17, 2016, call with Sussmann and Elias, an Aug. 19, 2016, meeting with Sussmann and Elias, and a Sept. 8, 2016, call and meeting with Sussmann, “all of which the defendant billed to the Clinton Campaign,” according to calendars reviewed by Durham.
Joffe also asked the CEO of an internet company to “mine and analyze vast amount of Internet traffic for any derogatory information he and his employees could find about Trump and his associates’ internet connections and online communications” and “sent the CEO a list (the ‘Trump Associates List’) containing email addresses, IP addresses, physical addresses, and other information of several Trump associates” while multiple people on the list were being researched by Fusion, Durham said.
The tech executive “exploited sensitive internet data that researchers were provided to guard against cybersecurity threats” but which he “instead directed them to mine for political purposes,” the special counsel said. As Joffe continued to meet and communicate with Perkins and Fusion, he made clear his desire to ensure that the “VIPs” (Perkins and the Clinton campaign) would be “happy” with what was unearthed, Durham alleged.
Sussmann’s attorneys said they learned Durham had issued the trial subpoenas Tuesday and that the special counsel is “requesting the testimony of witnesses regarding the assertion of attorney-client privilege in front of the jury.” The Clinton campaign and the DNC advised Sussmann they wanted to fight ”this plainly impermissible testimony,” Sussmann’s lawyers said.
“The Special Counsel this week took the astonishing and legally inappropriate step of subpoenaing witnesses for the express purpose of having them testify to the invocation of the attorney-client privilege in front of the jury,” Sussmann’s lawyers contended in a Friday filing.
Hillary for America also tried to intervene Tuesday, saying it was “asserting attorney-client privilege and work protection” related to Perkins and Fusion. The filing included declarations from Clinton campaign Chairman John Podesta, Clinton campaign manager Robbie Mook, and Elias.
“The Special Counsel continues to overreach: he seeks to admit evidence that the law squarely forbids, he seeks to prove unduly prejudicial allegations he has not charged, and he seeks to prove conduct that is utterly irrelevant to the one discrete crime he has charged,” Sussmann’s lawyers argued Friday night.
Durham also “seeks to prevent Mr. Sussmann from introducing relevant — indeed essential — exculpatory evidence in the form of testimony from his former client, Rodney Joffe,” Sussmann’s lawyers said Friday.
Durham pushed back Saturday.
“The goal of the joint venture could not have been more clear: it was to gather and disseminate derogatory non-public information regarding the internet activities of a political candidate and his associates,” he wrote.
“And that venture was far from collateral to the charged crime. Indeed, the above-described joint venture was the very project that led Tech Executive-1 to rely upon the defendant’s services; the very project that gave rise to the Russian Bank-1 allegations; the very project that prompted agents of the Clinton Campaign to meet with Tech Executive-1; and the very project that caused the defendant to meet with the FBI General Counsel and lie to him about the clients who were behind all of this work,” Durham said.
Durham has declined to promise that Joffe won’t be indicted at some point in the future, but if Joffe is not granted immunity to testify at trial on Sussmann’s behalf, then the charges should be dismissed, the defense team argued.
Scroll down to leave a comment and share your thoughts.