Sussmann acquitted of charge brought by special counsel Durham

Sussmann’s defense said the case was flawed on a variety of grounds, including that prosecutors could not prove with certainty exactly what the cybersecurity attorney and former federal prosecutor told Baker.

Sussmann’s lawyers also pointed out that there was no evidence that the Clinton campaign allowed Sussmann to go to the FBI, although he and researchers working for Clinton appeared to have spent a lot of time dealing with allegations of server and were actively encouraging The New York Times to write about the issue in the final weeks of the presidential race.

In the courtroom, Sussmann showed no obvious reaction to the not-guilty verdict, although he was masked as most trial attendees were throughout. A prosecutor requested that all 12 jurors be questioned and they all upheld the acquittal.

After U.S. District Court Judge Christopher Cooper announced the lawsuit, Sussmann’s two lead attorneys, Sean Berkowitz and Michael Bosworth, embraced.

In a brief statement outside the courthouse shortly after the verdict, Sussmann thanked his attorneys and said he viewed the not guilty verdict as vindication.

“I told the FBI the truth and the jury clearly recognized it with their unanimous verdict today,” Sussmann told reporters. “Although I was falsely accused, I believe justice has finally prevailed in my case.”

Sussmann’s defense team declined to address the crowds of reporters and cameras in court, but released a written statement lambasting the prosecution.

“Michael Sussmann should never have been charged in the first place. This is a case of extraordinary overreach. And we believe today’s verdict sends an unequivocal message to anyone who wants to listen. : Politics is no substitute for evidence and politics has no place in our justice system,” Berkowitz and Bosworth wrote.

Durham, who was not a member of the trial team but was present in the courtroom throughout the trial, left the courthouse in silence and later issued a written statement expressing his disappointment with the verdict. . His prosecutors had described the evidence of Sussmann’s guilt as “overwhelming”.

“Although we are disappointed with the result, we respect the decision of the jury and thank them for their service. I also want to acknowledge and thank the investigators and the prosecution team for their dedicated efforts in seeking truth and justice in this case,” the special counsel said.

Several jurors declined to comment on the deliberations as they left the courthouse, but the foreman spoke briefly to reporters and highlighted the burden the prosecution faced in the case.

“The government had the job of proving beyond a reasonable doubt,” she said, declining to be named. “We broke it down … as a jury. It did not work in favor of the government.

When asked if she thought the pursuit was worth it, the forewoman said: “I personally don’t think she should have been sued because I think we have more time or resources to use or spend on other things that affect the nation as a whole than a possible lie to the FBI. We could spend this time more wisely.

Shortly before the verdict was due Tuesday morning, the jury sent Cooper a note asking if they should unanimously agree on the grounds for their verdict. The judge replied that they had to agree on the basis of a guilty verdict, but could acquit even if the jurors disagreed on the various defense theories they accepted.

Following Sussmann’s outreach in 2016, the FBI concluded that the evidence presented by Sussmann did not support the idea of ​​a connection between Trump and the Russian bank Alfa. Some agents assigned to the investigation found that indicia of such contacts found in domain name system records were actually caused by a marketing email server sending a spam message, but during the trial Sussmann’s defense called the FBI probe “botched” and at least one subject agent acknowledged it was “incomplete”.

Trump aides have denied any such link, and a computer security firm hired by Alfa Bank has also concluded the allegations are unfounded.

It’s unclear how the high-profile courtroom setback will affect Durham’s ongoing investigation or his ability to bring future charges in his sweeping investigation into the FBI’s Trump-Russia origins. investigation. Some Durham supporters have praised his lawsuit of Sussmann as providing a useful vehicle for publicly broadcasting the Clinton campaign’s involvement in efforts to publicize the alleged server link and for publishing evidence suggesting that some technical experts who have advanced the allegations harbored doubts about them.

However, Justice Department policy generally prohibits prosecutors from using a criminal case to present a larger narrative unless they believe they have the evidence beyond a reasonable doubt necessary to secure a conviction.

Senior Justice Department officials have remained vague about the level of oversight in place over the Durham investigation, which former attorney general Bill Barr granted special counsel status to just weeks before the 2020 election. Attorney General Merrick Garland said the department adheres to regulations governing special counsel autonomy, but declined to elaborate.

Some potential witnesses who declined to testify at Sussmann’s trial and were involved in dealing with the server allegations have raised concerns that Durham might try to sue them.

Durham’s investigation, which began in May 2019, produced two other criminal cases.

Last fall, Durham filed a five-count lawsuit against a Russian-born researcher for allegedly providing false information to the FBI as part of the Trump-Russia investigation. The researcher, Igor Danchenko, has pleaded not guilty and is expected to stand trial in October in federal court in Alexandria, Virginia.

In 2020, Durham secured a guilty plea from former FBI attorney Kevin Clinesmith for deliberately altering an email used to obtain secret surveillance warrants against Carter Page, an energy analyst who had previously was a foreign policy adviser. to the Trump campaign.

Clinesmith admitted to editing an email he received and forwarded, but insisted he believed the information he inserted was true. The Durham team urged Clinesmith to receive between three and six months in jail, but a judge sentenced him to a year’s probation instead.

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