On Thursday, The New York Times reported that Michael Sussmann, a Perkins Coie attorney who worked for Hillary Clinton’s failed 2016 presidential campaign, was indicted for allegedly lying to FBI agents at a meeting in 2016 regarding information about then-candidate Donald Trump colluding with Russia.
The Times downplayed the indictment as though it were of little value, but a close reading of the 27-page speaking indictment shows that Sussmann is facing a felony charge and that U.S. Attorney John Durham, who ordered the indictment, may be signaling more indictments in the future.
“Michael Sussmann, a partner with Perkins Coie who also represented the Democratic National Committee in connection with Russia’s hack of the organization, is accused of making false statements during a Sept. 19, 2016 meeting with former FBI General Counsel James Baker,” is how Reuters explained the indictment. “This marks the second criminal case Durham has filed so far since former Attorney General William Barr tapped him in 2019 to investigate U.S. officials who probed the Trump-Russia contacts.”
The Times reported something similar, reminding readers that “an indictment is not a certainty.” The outlet also suggested that it is uncertain whether Sussmann worked for the Clinton campaign at the time he allegedly lied to the FBI.
As The Washington Free Beacon’s Chuck Ross reported, however, the indictment of Sussmann is far more damning than what media outlets alleged.
Sussmann was indicted for allegedly telling James Baker, who at the time was the FBI’s general counsel, that he was not working for any client when he passed along sensitive information alleging a back-channel between Trump’s real estate company and Alfa bank, which is owned by Russian oligarchs. As the indictment shows, Sussmann was representing the Clinton campaign, the DNC, and an unidentified tech executive who expected to get a government cybersecurity job if Clinton were elected president.
“The indictment paints a damning picture of Sussmann’s efforts to promote the story to law enforcement, members of the media, and within the ranks of the Clinton campaign. Sussmann’s alleged smear campaign was successful on all fronts. The FBI opened an investigation into Alfa Bank based on Sussmann’s meeting. Multiple news outlets published stories in the run-up to the election and served as a key source in coverage. Hillary Clinton and her top foreign policy adviser, Jake Sullivan, touted those reports on social media, saying they showed evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. Sullivan now serves as President Joe Biden’s national security adviser,” Ross reported.
National Review’s Andrew McCarthy noted that the lengthy indictment of Sussmann, which he said was unusually long for a single-count false-statement charge, signaled where Durham appears to be going with his ongoing investigation, which other than the indictment of a former FBI attorney for altering an email, has been relatively quiet.
“The Trump–Russia collusion narrative was essentially a fabrication of the Clinton campaign that was peddled to the FBI (among other government agencies) and to the media by agents of the Clinton campaign — particularly, its lawyers at Perkins Coie — who concealed the fact that they were quite intentionally working on the campaign’s behalf, and that they did not actually believe there was much, if anything, to the collusion narrative. It was serviceable as political dirt but would not amount to anything real for criminal or national-security purposes,” McCarthy wrote.
Durham previously indicted Kevin Clinesmith, who eventually pleaded guilty to altering an email that made it look like former Trump aide Carter Page had not previously worked with the CIA, even though the agency made clear he had.