Former U.S. Attorney John Durham has told the Justice Department he will ask a grand jury to indict cybersecurity lawyer Michael Sussmann for allegedly lying to the F.B.I. during the “Russian collusion” investigation, according to the New York Times.
John Durham, who was appointed by the Trump administration to investigate the probe into Russia’s alleged election interference, will reportedly seek an indictment by a grand jury over a meeting between Michael Sussmann and the F.B.I. in 2016 when Sussmann claimed to not have been working on behalf of a client while raising suspicions about Donald Trump’s ties to Russia.
Michael Sussmann is now a partner at Perkins Coie – a prominent law firm often employed by Democratic politicians – and previously “represented the Democratic National Committee on issues related to Russia’s 2016 hacking of its servers,” per the Times. Sussmann denies working on behalf of the Clinton campaign.
“Mr. Sussmann has committed no crime,” Sussmann’s lawyers, Sean M. Berkowitz and Michael S. Bosworth of Latham & Watkins told the Times. “Any prosecution here would be baseless, unprecedented and an unwarranted deviation from the apolitical and principled way in which the Department of Justice is supposed to do its work. We are confident that if Mr. Sussmann is charged, he will prevail at trial and vindicate his good name.”
In 2016, Michael Sussmann met with the F.B.I.’s top lawyer James A. Baker to relay “data and analysis from cybersecurity researchers who thought that odd internet data might be evidence of a covert communications channel between computer servers associated with the Trump Organization and with Alfa Bank, a Kremlin-linked Russian financial institution.”
“The F.B.I. eventually decided those concerns had no merit,” noted the Times. “The special counsel who later took over the Russia investigation, Robert S. Mueller III, ignored the matter in his final report.”