Former Clinton Campaign Lawyer Michael Sussmann’s motion to dismiss the indictment against him for lying to the FBI is “absurd,” according to a new filing from special counsel John Durham.
Sussmann was indicted in 2021 for lying to the FBI regarding his relationship with the Clinton campaign in 2016. Sussmann had approached law enforcement claiming he had evidence of a relationship between former President Donald Trump’s campaign and a Russian bank. Sussmann allegedly told the FBI that he was not providing the information on behalf of any entity, despite then being on the payroll of the Clinton campaign and a Clinton-aligned tech executive, according to the indictment. (RELATED: John Brennan Says There Was ‘No Spying’ On Trump’s Campaign)
Sussmann filed a motion to dismiss the indictment in February, arguing that his false statement was protected by the First Amendment and had not materially impacted the FBI’s investigation. Durham’s Friday filing argues the opposite
“Far from finding himself in the vulnerable position of an ordinary person whose speech is likely to be chilled, the defendant — a sophisticated and well-connected lawyer — chose to bring politically-charged allegations to the FBI’s chief legal officer at the height of an election season,” Durham’s filing reads. “He then chose to lie about the clients who were behind those allegations. Using such rare access to the halls of power for the purposes of political deceit is hardly the type of speech that the Founders intended to protect. The Court should therefore reject defendant’s invitation to expand the scope of the First Amendment to protect such conduct.”
Durham then addressed Sussmann’s argument that his false statement was not “material” to the FBI’s investigation, meaning it was not a criminal offense. Durham argues the false statement could easily have impacted the FBI’s actions surrounding the investigation in a number of ways.
“The defendant’s false statement to the FBI General Counsel was plainly material because it misled the General Counsel about, among other things, the critical fact that the defendant was disseminating highly explosive allegations about a then-Presidential candidate on behalf of two specific clients, one of which was the opposing Presidential campaign,” the filing reads.
“The defendant’s efforts to mislead the FBI in this manner during the height of a Presidential election season plainly could have influenced the FBI’s decision-making in any number of ways,” it continued.
Trump has argued that the revelations from Durham’s investigation are proof that both the FBI and Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign spied on him before entering office. The evidence Sussmann presented to the FBI came from data leaks from servers both near the White House and in Trump tower. Sussman gathered the information with the help of tech executive Rodney Joffe, another Clinton ally.
“The latest pleading from Special Counsel Durham proves indisputable evidence that my campaign and presidency were spied on by operatives paid by the Hillary Clinton campaign in an effort to develop a completely fabricated connection to Russia,” Trump wrote in a February statement. “This is a scandal far greater in scope and magnitude than Watergate and those who were involved in and knew about this spying operation should be subject to criminal prosecution.”
“In a stronger period of time in our country, this crime would have been punishable by death. In addition, reparations should be paid to those in our country who have been damaged by this,” he added.
Read Durham’s full filing below.