Federal prosecutors on Friday presented closing arguments to a Washington jury in a criminal case against a former attorney for Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, urging them to convict him for lying to the FBI in a bid to harm Donald Trump.
The case against the lawyer, Michael Sussmann, centers on whether he lied by claiming he was not representing any clients when in September 2016 he arranged a private meeting with the FBI’s general counsel James Baker to pass along a now-debunked tip alleging the Trump Organization was secretly communicating with Russia’s Alfa-Bank.
“The defendant used his privilege as a high-powered Washington lawyer, as a former DOJ prosecutor and as a friend … to bypass normal channels and to expedite a meeting with the FBI’s general counsel,” prosecutor Jonathan Algor said.
The case against Sussmann is being led by Special Counsel John Durham, who was appointed by then-Attorney General William Barr in 2019 to probe any missteps in the FBI’s investigation into whether Trump’s campaign was colluding with Russia.
Prosecutors say Sussmann was representing two clients when he met with Baker: Clinton’s presidential campaign and Rodney Joffe, a technology executive who oversaw the research into the alleged connections between Alfa-Bank and the Trump Organization.
“In that meeting, the defendant made a false statement when he told Mr. Baker that he was not there on behalf of any client.
That instead he was there as a good citizen bringing it on his own,” Algor said.
“And why did the defendant do this? Because he knew he had to conceal his representation of the Clinton campaign and Rodney Joffe to be able to push the Alfa-Bank allegations to the FBI,”
Sussmann has maintained his innocence, and his attorneys are expected to present their closing arguments later on Friday.