Citing attorney – client privilege, GPS Fusion had previously refused to surrender up to thirty-eight emails between members of its firm and Michael Sussmann, the attorney from Perkins Coie who will be in court later this month. Sussmann has been charged with lying to the FBI in connection with the Steele Dossier, which was the nexus for accusations that President Trump colluded with the Russian government in order to win the 2016 election.
GPS Fusion was hired to do opposition research on Donald J. Trump, who was then the Republican candidate for president. Out of this “research” came the now-debunked Steele Dossier, which prompted a federal investigation into the Trump campaign. Multiple investigations have found that the dossier was nothing more than salacious gossip, and that Trump nor his family members had ties to any Russian bank or the Kremlin.
A judge ruled late Thursday that twenty-two of the thirty-eight emails requested must be turned over to John Durham and the prosecutors in Sussmanns’ case, which is scheduled to begin next week. However, Judge Christopher “Casey” Cooper said the emails are not “admissible . . .because of the untimeliness of Durham’s request.”
Of the thirty-eight requested emails, Judge Cooper ruled that sixteen of those were, in fact, attorney/client privilege and work product emails. Therefore, those emails cannot be turned over to Durham.
Sussmann has been accused of sharing information with individuals tied to the FBI; the alleged information had to do with “a potential back channel of communications between servers of the Trump Organization and Russia’s Alfa bank.” The FBI did investigate, but found no links between the two.
It is alleged that the Steele Dossier was the catalyst for the investigation, as well as others. Many have proposed that the dossier was utilized as the basis for FISA warrants on members of the Trump family.
While this isn’t the crux of Durham’s probe, Sussmann’s charge comes due to his supposed claim that he “was not attending the meeting (with the FBI’s general counsel at the time) on behalf of a particular client.” The charges against Sussmann hold that he was indeed meeting the individual on behalf of the Hillary Clinton campaign, who had hired Perkins Coie as its legal counsel during the 2016 campaign.
Sussmann has pled not guilty to these charges.
Then-U.S. Attorney General William “Bill” Barr appointed John Durham as special counsel in 2019 to investigate the happenings surrounding the accusations of Russian interference in the 2016 election. While Durham’s investigation has taken some time to complete, the investigation has been extremely thorough.
Durham’s investigation so far has led to charges being brought against three people. One is Igor Danchenko. Danchenko was found to be the source of information of the Steele Dossier. He is allegedly the individual who met with Christopher Steele and relayed the supposed connections between Trump and Alfa Bank, which were eventually disproven. Danchenko has also been charged with lying to the FBI, but his trial date doesn’t take place until October of this year.
Another individual charged under the Durham investigation is Kevin Clinesmith. Clinesmith is a former attorney for the FBI; he plead guilty to altering an email, and was sentenced to probation.