Just days before jury selection was to start, a former Hillary Clinton campaign attorney set to go on trial for allegedly lying to the FBI, that notes from a top former FBI official undercut the case against him.
In 2016, attorney Michael Sussmann allegedly told James Baker, an FBI attorney, that he was bringing allegations concerning then-presidential candidate Donald Trump to the agency on his own accord, not on behalf of a client.
Prosecuting the case in April, Special counsel John Durham, revealed that Sussmann told Baker as much in a text before they met.
This is what Sussmann told Baker: “Jim—it’s Michael Sussmann. I have something time-sensitive (and sensitive) I need to discuss. Do you have availability [sic] for a short meeting tomorrow? I’m coming on my own—not on behalf of a client or company—want to help the Bureau. Thanks,” as reported.
Since then, Sussmann’s attorneys have said the message was legitimate, but they shared new information in a new filing on May 8, which they said contradicted Durham’s core allegation. They obtained the information just recently through discovery from prosecutors.
The new information’s key piece is in a set of notes said to have been taken during a meeting in March 2017 that included Baker and top Department of Justice officials, as well as then-FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe.
McCabe said that the Trump–Russia allegations were sourced from an “attorney” who “brought [them] to [the] FBI on behalf of his client,” the notes state.
“This new information directly contradicts the special counsel’s core allegation in this case: that Mr. Sussmann falsely told Mr. Baker that he was not meeting with Mr. Baker on behalf of any client,” said Sussmann’s attorneys.
They said that the previously revealed text “represents just one moment in time,” before noting that the actual meeting between Sussmann and Baker wasn’t recorded, nor were several phone calls held after the meeting.
“And yet, at some point between September 18, 2016, and March 6, 2017, the FBI apparently came to believe that Mr. Sussmann did have a client in connection with his meeting with Mr. Baker and that the Alfa allegations were provided ‘on behalf of his client,’” Sussmann’s attorneys added.
The notes show that Baker “was silent” when McCabe said Sussman brought the allegations on behalf of a client, they claim, and also that the notes cast doubt on the reliability of Baker, who has said Sussmann told him he wasn’t bringing the information on behalf of a client.
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