On Monday, Special Counsel John Durham released a 48-page filing that released one particularly damning piece of evidence – a text message from former Perkins Coie attorney Michael Sussmann to then-FBI general counsel James Baker. The text explicitly states that Sussmann needs to meet with Baker, and Sussmann claims he desires this meeting “not on behalf of a client or company.”
The filing can be described as a motion to admit evidence for the upcoming Sussmann trial, scheduled for mid-May. The motion also mentions entering into evidence a tweet, but it is uncertain exactly what tweet this might be. Political pundits posit that it could be a tweet from Hillary Clinton regarding the alleged finding of a connection between Trump servers and the Alpha Bank servers.
Durham’s filing contends that Sussmann “assembled and conveyed the allegation to the FBI on behalf of at least two specific clients,” thought to be Rodney Joffe and the Clinton campaign. While Rodney Joffe has not been named in the filing and has not been charged with any crime, multiple news outlets, including CNN and The New York Times identified Joffe as the executive mentioned in the filings.
The message sent by Sussmann on September 18, 2016 at 7:24 PM to General Counsel James Baker read: “Jim-it’s Michael Sussmann. I have something time-sensitive I need to discuss. . . .I’m coming on my own – not on behalf of a client or company- want to help the Bureau.” When Baker replied that he was available to meet, Sussmann would reply that he could meet any time but lunchtime.
Not only does Durham plan to use this text as proof that Sussmann was dishonest with the FBI, Durham’s Monday filing offers Sussmann’s billing records. Durham’s filing also states that Sussmann met repeatedly with Marc Elias, who is said to be Campaign Lawyer-1 and was serving at that time as “General Counsel to the Clinton Campaign.”
Durham’s latest filing lays out much of the evidence for the upcoming case, including handwritten notes from Sussmann’s meetings with intelligence officials as well as the aforementioned billing details. Images of these handwritten notes are included in Durham’s Monday filing. The motion also calls for Congressional testimony of Sussmann in 2017. During the testimony, Sussmann was asked – under oath – if he had brought the alleged evidence to the FBI on his own volition. Sussmann answered “No.” According to Durham’s billing findings, Sussmann even charged the Clinton campaign for the time he spent drafting a white paper he would give to Jim Baker.
Sussmann would later add that he had had conversations with his client regarding the interaction with the FBI: “(he talked with his client) as lawyers do with their clients, about client needs and objectives and the best course to take for a client.” Sussmann would later say that his decision to go to the FBI with the allegations might have been one “that we (he and his client) came to together.”
Prosecutors allege that Sussmann deliberately deceived Jim Baker, and that he did so at the behest of the Clinton campaign. They further allege that Joffe, who was then senior vice president at Neustar, ordered some employees to “do a data deep-dive into Trump,” then “assemble internet data that would support an inference or narrative tying Trump to Russia.”
This data mining operation was dubbed “Crimson Rhino.”
Last week, the Federal Election Commission fined the Clinton campaign $8,000 and the Democratic National Committee $105,000 for “mislabeling payments to the firm that were routed through Perkins Coie as legal advice rather than as opposition research.”
Other notable mentions in Durham’s filings allege that Michael Sussmann met with more than James Baker; he also allegedly met with Christopher Steele (the namesake of the Steele dossier) as well as employees of Fusion GPS in his office at Perkins Coie.
While Sussmann is not the only person who has been indicted in relation to the debunked Steele dossier, his case has been one of the most publicized. As of this writing, the judge in the case has not yet answered the motion.