The Sussmann Verdict – WSJ

Michael Sussmann in federal court in Washington on Tuesday


Manuel Balce Ceneta/Associated Press

A jury in Washington, DC on Tuesday acquitted Clinton campaign attorney Michael Sussmann of lying to the FBI, and the verdict undoubtedly comes as a disappointment to Special Counsel John Durham. But the case did a public service by exposing much of the dirty trick of Russia’s 2016 collusion that hadn’t previously been told.

The evidence was strong enough to support an indictment, and it was bolstered by a text message in which Mr. Sussmann had told FBI General Counsel James Baker that he was not representing a client. In truth, he represented the Clinton campaign, accounting records showed. But Mr. Durham had accused Mr. Sussmann of personally lying to Mr. Baker, not in the text message, which the special counsel only received after he filed the original indictment.

The jury may also have been persuaded by the defense’s contention that the FBI already had reasonable grounds to know that Mr. Sussmann was working for the Clinton campaign. Mr. Sussmann was certainly known to the FBI – enough that we learned at the trial that he had his own pass to the FBI building.

The verdict is less important than what we learned about Clinton’s bogus claims about ties between the Trump campaign and Russia’s Alfa Bank. The story was fabricated from the start, leaked to the press by Fusion GPS staff investigators and Clinton sources. We learned that Hillary Clinton personally agreed to leak the false claim to a reporter, and the campaign and Mrs. Clinton then tweeted the press report in agreement.

Mr. Baker passed the request on to FBI agents to investigate, although he hid from the agents that Mr. Sussmann was his source. Agents quickly determined that the allegations were not credible. But the Alfa Bank story nonetheless became part of the fog of collusion that plagued the Trump presidency for more than two years.

Mr. Durham isn’t done yet, and later this year he will be bringing up a separate case that will tell us more about another side of the collusion – the Christopher Steele dossier. He has charged Igor Danchenko, the alleged source of Mr. Steele’s information in the dossier, with lying to the FBI on five counts. Mr. Danchenko has pleaded not guilty.

Evidence at this trial should reveal more details about the origins of the dossier defamation and the role of the Clinton campaign and the media in spreading it. Special Counsel Robert Mueller should have been investigating all of this long ago, but he ducked the Clinton campaign’s role. Mr. Durham’s job was to tell us the rest of the sordid story.

Review and Outlook: As a witness in John Durham’s trial of Michael Sussmann, Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager Robby Mook said that she personally approved a plan to make a false “Trump, Russia” claim to the news media. Images: Reuters Composite: Mark Kelly

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Appeared in the print edition on June 1, 2022. The Sussmann Verdict – WSJ

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