The Hillary Clinton campaign lawyer facing trial on a charge of lying to the FBI got a little judicial help Saturday.
Washington, D.C., District Court Judge Christopher Cooper set a high bar for Special Prosecutor John Durham to introduce disputed emails.
The Obama appointee denied a motion by defendant Michael Sussman to exclude notes or testimony from FBI witnesses about a meeting with Jim Baker.
Judge Cooper also denied a defense motion to either grant Rodney Joffe immunity or dismiss the case against Sussman.
But, information — particularly emails — Sussman claimed is subject to attorney-client privilege got a mixed result for both parties.
Durham alleged Sussmann lied to FBI General Counsel James Baker that he was not working on behalf of any client when he provided the Trump-Russian bank allegation to the agency. The Clinton campaign lawyer pleaded not guilty last year and has entered various court motions to dismiss the case and, when that failed, evidence against him.
Cooper ruled against government attempts to admit emails between Joffe, two researchers from the Georgia Institute of Technology and another computer researcher who allegedly compiled the data. Durham argued that Joffe, Sussmann, and the Clinton Campaign (or its agents) acted in concert toward the common goal of assembling and disseminating allegations and other derogatory information about former President Donald Trump to the media and the U.S. government.
It further argues Georgia Tech researchers, employees of various internet companies and Fusion GPS were part of the operation. That seemed the basis for Durham’s desire to introduce emails between them into evidence at Sussman’s upcoming trial.
The judge declined to engage in extensive evidentiary analysis that would be needed to determine whether such a joint venture existed, and who may have joined it, in order to admit those emails. But, it does not mean that the evidence may not be introduced during trial.
“[T]he government has indicated that it intends to call one or both of the Georgia Tech researchers at trial,” the judge reasoned. “Either of them could testify to their role in assembling the data, how they came to be tasked with the project, and whether they believed the research was done for the Clinton Campaign or some other purpose.”
“[T]he government may attempt to connect the dots between the various participants in the collection and use of the Alfa Bank data.”
Sussman’s defense took a big hit, though, when Judge Cooper sided with Durham about admitting evidence of a similar meeting with a CIA official.
“The government also alleges Mr. Sussmann made an additional false statement during that meeting—that he had previously brought ‘similar, but unrelated’ information to the FBI,” Cooper continued. “Specifically, Mr. Sussmann allegedly provided to the CIA an updated version of the Alfa Bank data, as well as an additional set of allegations about Russian-made phones that were used on Trump networks.
“The Court has already ruled from the bench that both statements are admissible, assuming the government lays a proper foundation.”
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