by Bradford Betz
Clinton campaign lawyer Michael Sussmann is one of three people charged so far
GPS Fusion, the research firm Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign hired to dig up dirt on Donald Trump’s supposed ties to Russia, must turn over nearly two dozen emails to special counsel John Durham, a federal judge ruled Thursday.
Those emails – which are largely exchanges between Clinton campaign lawyer Michael Sussman and Fusion GPS – are part of a batch that prosecutors subpoenaed last year.
U.S. District Judge Christopher "Casey" Cooper blocked prosecutors from getting 16 of those emails but allowed Durham to obtain 22. Cooper ruled that the 16 emails in question were protected by attorney-client privilege and attorney-work-product while the remaining 22 were not.
Still, the judge ruled that those emails will not be admissible in the impending trial of Sussman – who is charged with lying to the FBI during a September 2016 meeting – because of the untimeliness of Durham’s request.
Sussman is accused of relaying to the FBI concerns from cybersecurity researchers about a potential secret back channel of communications between servers of the Trump Organization and Russia-based Alfa Bank. The FBI investigated the matter but ultimately found no such suspicious links.
Prosecutors allege that Sussmann misled the FBI's then-general counsel by saying that he was not attending the meeting on behalf of a particular client when he was actually presenting the information on behalf of the Clinton campaign and a technology executive with whom he had worked. Sussman’s trial is set to begin on Monday in Washington's federal court. He has pleaded not guilty.
Durham, a former U.S. attorney in Connecticut, was appointed in 2019 by then-Attorney General William Barr to look for government misconduct during the investigation into Russian election interference in 2016 and possible ties to Donald Trump's presidential campaign.
Sussmann is one of three people charged so far. The other two are Kevin Clinesmith, a former FBI lawyer who pleaded guilty to altering an email and received probation, and Igor Danchenko, a Russian analyst and source of information for Christopher Steele, the former British intelligence operative who assembled a dossier of anti-Trump research. Danchenko was charged in November with lying to the FBI during a 2017 interview.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.