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SEATTLE, WA – Attorney Michael Sussman has plead not guilty on Friday to a single charge of making false statements to the FBI after having been charged for the offence by special counsel John H. Durham from his long awaited investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.
Special counsel Durham had been tasked by former Attorney General William Barr to investigate the FBI’s probe into the now debunked Trump-Russia collusion and interference in the 2016 presidential election.
Sussman, a former partner at the law firm Perkins Coie, is currently out of jail on a $100,000 bond while awaiting trial, and has had restrictions imposed on his travel.
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The attorney was indicted on Thursday over allegations that he lied to the FBI’s general counsel in 2016 when he had given evidence – in the form of “data files” – of a back channel link between the Trump Organization and Alfa Bank, a Moscow, Russia-based lender with ties to the Kremlin; the FBI later said that Sussman’s evidence was insufficient to establish a link.
Prosecutors say that the 27-page indictment against Sussman hinges on the attorney claiming that he wasn’t representing any client when he presented the evidence to the FBI; in reality, prosecutors allege, Sussman was actually presenting the evidence on behalf of Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign and an unnamed executive at a major tech company.
In his defense, Sussman has stated that he was acting as a conduit for a cybersecurity expert who had given him the data files alleging a link between Trump and the Russian bank, and wanted the files presented to the FBI for what he felt was a matter of national security.
Lawyers representing Sussman maintain that the DOJ’s case is a “politically motivated prosecution” designed to perpetuate Donald Trump’s assertion that the investigation into his alleged ties to Russia were nothing but a “witch hunt.”
However, the DOJ’s case against Sussman also proposes a theory that the attorney was attempting to misdirect FBI resources against Trump for the benefit of a political rival at the time, Hillary Clinton.
“Sussman’s false statement misled the FBI General Counsel and other FBI personnel concerning the political nature of his work and deprived the FBI of information that might have permitted it more fully to assess and uncover the origins of the relevant data and technical analysis, including the identities and motivations of Sussman’s clients,” the indictment said.
The timing of this indictment could wait no longer as a five-year statute of limitations would expire by the end of September. Sussman will appear next in court on Wednesday, September 22.