An attorney who worked for Hillary Clinton abused his links with the FBI to try to damage former President Donald Trump’s presidential campaign during the weeks leading up to the 2016 presidential elections, federal prosecutors alleged.
Michael Sussmann, formerly hired by Clinton’s failed 2016 presidential campaign, misled the FBI about who he represented during a September 19, 2016, meeting with the agency’s top lawyer, then-General Counsel James Baker, prosecutor Deborah Brittain Shaw told a jury in a Washington court, Reuters reported.
The purpose of the meeting was to tip off the agency about alleged internet communications between a Russian bank and the Trump organization. Authorities would later investigate the claims and find them to be untrue.
When Sussmann met Baker, he said he was not representing anyone. However, prosecutors, according to Fox News, alleged that Sussmann when he had met Baker was working for two clients: the Clinton Campaign and tech executive Rodney Joffe.
After the meeting, Sussmann billed the Clinton campaign for his work, the outlet reported.
“The defendant’s lie was all part of a bigger plan. … It was a plan to create an October surprise on the eve of the election … to use and manipulate the FBI,” Shaw said, according to CNN.
The prosecutor alleged that Sussmann was trying to “use the FBI as a political tool,” describing the case as one of “privilege,” Reuters reported.
“Privilege of a lawyer who thought he could lie to the FBI without consequences; privilege of a lawyer who thought that for the powerful, normal rules didn’t apply,” Shaw said in her opening argument on the government’s behalf, according to Fox News.
The government argued that Sussmann “bypassed normal channels” in feeding “serious allegations” to the FBI by going to Baker directly, Fox News reported.
Sussmann faces charges of one count of lying to the FBI, to which he pleaded not guilty. Authorities indicted him in September of 2021.
The indictment was part of a probe assigned in 2019 to special counsel John Durham by then-Attorney General William Barr.
Barr wanted to investigate potential misconduct in the FBI’s investigation of alleged Trump-Russia collusion.
While the investigation began during the time of the Trump administration, the Biden administration has allowed Sussmann to finish his work on the investigation.
During the arguments, the prosecutors tried to establish that the case was beyond politics, trying to address the “proverbial elephant in the room,” Fox News reported.
“Some people have very strong feelings about politics, and about Russia, and many people have strong feelings about Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton,” Shaw said, according to the outlet. “We are not here because allegations involve either.”
“Whether we hate Donald Trump or like him, we have to agree that some things have to be above politics. One of those things is our law enforcement agencies, and the other is truth,” Shaw said, according to CNN.
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