The former acting attorney general under Donald Trump, Matt Whitaker, joined ‘Fox & Friends Weekend’ to discuss the latest in the Durham probe. YouTube Tips ⓘ
Fox News reported Sunday morning, February 13, 2022, that a filing from Special Counsel for the United States Department of Justice John Durham reports that the Clinton campaign paid a technology company to “infiltrate” servers belonging to Trump Tower, and later the White House, in order to establish an “inference” and “narrative” to bring to government agencies linking Donald Trump to Russia. The new allegation of payment by the Clinton campaign adds to a previous allegation that a Clinton campaign lawyer failed to reveal that he was working for a client when he demonstrated alleged evidence of communications between the Trump campaign and Russia.
According to Fox News, Durham filed a motion on Feb. 11, 2022 that focused on potential conflicts of interest related to the representation of former Clinton campaign lawyer Michael Sussman, who has been charged with making a false statement to a federal agent. Sussman has pleaded not guilty (see DOJ release at bottom of this article).
The indictment against Sussman alleges he told then-FBI General Counsel James Baker in September 2016, less than two months before the 2016 presidential election (Donald J. Trump vs. Hillary R. Clinton), that he was not doing work “for any client” when he requested and held a meeting in which he presented “purported data and ‘white papers’ that allegedly demonstrated a covert communications channel” between the Trump Organization and Alfa Bank, which has ties to the Kremlin. The Durham report alleges that Sussman forwarded allegations to the FBI on behalf of two clients — only named in the Durham report as “Tech Executive 1” and a U.S.-based Internet company “Internet Company 1.”
Special Counsel for the United States Department of Justice John Durham was given the authority “to broadly examine the government’s collection of intelligence involving the Trump campaign’s interactions with Russians,” reviewing government documents and requesting voluntary witness statements.
In December 2020, Attorney General William Barr revealed to Congress that he had secretly appointed John Durham special counsel on October 19, 2020. Durham continued functioning in this capacity after he resigned as U.S. Attorney. The U.S. Justice Department’s first official expenditure report for the special investigation showed that it had spent $1.5 million from October 19, 2020, to March 31, 2021. In December 2021, CNN reported the Durham investigation into the Russia probe cost $3.8 million.
In a 60 Minutes interview Lesley Stahl presses President Trump on once-again rising coronavirus cases and what his priorities would be if re-elected. Stahl also speaks with Mr. Trump’s running mate, Vice President Mike Pence. [NOTE: This video begins at 13:50 when former President Donald Trump tells Leslie Stahl “they spied on my campaign.”] YouTube Tips ⓘ
Beginning in 2017, president Donald Trump and his allies alleged the FBI investigation, leading to the Mueller investigation, of possible contacts between his associates and Russian officials was a “hoax” or “witch hunt” that was baselessly initiated by his political enemies. Multiple media sources denounced Trump’s claim as hyperbole. In April 2019, Attorney General William Barr announced that he had launched a review of the origins of the FBI’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 United States election (Trump vs. Clinton) and it was reported in May 2019 that he had assigned Durham to lead the investigation several weeks earlier.
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Grand Jury Indicts D.C. Attorney with Making False Statements to the FBI in 2016 Regarding Alleged Communications Between Trump Organization and Russian Bank
Special Counsel John Durham announced Thursday, September 16, 2022 that a federal grand jury returned an indictment in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia charging Michael A. Sussmann, 57, a Washington, D.C.-based attorney, with making a false statement to the FBI on Sept. 19, 2016. The charge in the indictment stems from a set of allegations brought by Sussmann to the FBI related to an alleged secret channel of communications between the Trump Organization and a Russian bank.
Sussmann was expected to make his initial appearance in the D.C. federal court as soon as Friday, September 17, 2022. The court will schedule the appearance.
An indictment is merely an allegation and all defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.
— US DOJ
As alleged in the indictment, on Sept. 19, 2016, Sussman, a lawyer at a large international law firm, met with the FBI General Counsel at FBI Headquarters in Washington, D.C. Sussmann had requested the meeting to provide the General Counsel with certain data files and “white papers” that allegedly demonstrated a covert communications channel between the Trump Organization and a Russia-based bank. Sussmann, who had previously represented the Democratic National Committee in connection with a cyber hack, falsely stated to the General Counsel that he was not bringing these allegations to the FBI on behalf of any client. This false representation led the General Counsel to understand that Sussmann was providing information as a good citizen rather than a paid advocate or political operative. In fact, Sussmann assembled and conveyed the allegations to the FBI on behalf of at least two clients, including a U.S. technology executive and the Clinton Presidential Campaign.
It is alleged that beginning in July 2016, Sussmann worked with the aforementioned U.S. technology executive, other cyber researchers, and a U.S.-based investigative firm to assemble the data and white papers that Sussmann ultimately provided to the FBI and the media. The technology executive, for his part, exploited his access to non-public data at multiple internet companies and enlisted the assistance of researchers at a U.S.-based university who were receiving and analyzing internet data in connection with a pending federal government cybersecurity research contract designed to identify the perpetrators of malicious cyber-attacks and protect U.S. national security. The indictment further alleges that researchers were tasked to mine this internet data to establish “an inference” and “narrative” that would tie then-presidential candidate Donald Trump to Russia, and which the executive believed would please certain “VIPs.” The indictment also alleges that Sussmann, his law firm, and the technology executive coordinated with representatives and agents of the Clinton Campaign in these efforts.
It is further alleged that Sussmann’s false statement misled FBI personnel and deprived the FBI of information that might have permitted it more fully to assess and uncover the origins of the relevant data and analysis, including the identities and motivations of Sussmann’s clients.
The FBI ultimately determined that there was insufficient evidence to support the allegations of a secret communications channel between the Trump Organization and the Russia-based bank.
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant Special Counsel Andrew DeFilippis and Assistant Special Counsel Michael T. Keilty, with the support and assistance of other members of Special Counsel Durham’s team. The Special Counsel’s investigation is ongoing.