Update (1600ET): Following the Sussmann acquittal, Former President Donald Trump was quick to respond, raging that the legal system isn’t working properly…
“Our Legal System is CORRUPT,” Trump said in a post on Truth Social, adding that “our Judges (and Justices!) are highly partisan, compromised, or just plain scared” before lamenting that Michael Sussmann, the lawyer, was found not guilty.
Jason Miller, a former Trump campaign aide, also reacted to the verdict, writing on Gettr that Sussmann admitted to giving opposition research to the FBI and not telling the bureau that the research was conducted for Clinton.
“How did Sussmann get off??? RIGGED SYSTEM!!!” Miller wrote.
The jury unanimously found Sussmann not guilty.
“I don’t think it should have been prosecuted,” one juror told reporters.
“There are bigger things that affect the nation than a possible lie to the FBI.”
We are unsure what that has to do with the legal principles involved in judging Sussmann’s guilt?
As Constitutional lawyer Jonathan Turley responded to this juror’s comments:
“Telling a lie to the FBI was the entire basis for the prosecution. It was the jury’s job to determine the fact of such a lie and its materiality.
…Of course, this statement can be a simple criticism of the underlying charge without admitting to bias in weighing the elements. Yet, it would have prompted a challenge in the courtroom if expressed during jury selection.”
But then again…
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As we detailed earlier, Michael Sussmann, a lawyer representing Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign, has been found not guilty of a single count of lying to the FBI when he said he was not working on behalf of any client when he alleged a covert communications channel between the Trump Organization and Russia’s Alfa Bank.
Sussmann was charged under 18 U.S.C. 1001 with lying to the FBI during a meeting with then-FBI general counsel James Baker when he came forward with what he claimed was evidence of possible covert communications between the Trump organization and Alfa, a Russian bank. Sussmann allegedly concealed that he was representing the Clinton campaign, which he billed for his efforts.
The verdict comes after a two week trial led to more than a day of deliberations… by this jury:
Baker, who now works for Twitter, said that he likely would not have have met with Michael Sussmann if he knew Sussmann was acting on behalf of the Clinton campaign.
I don’t think I would have,” Baker said on the stand in federal court in Washington, as noted by the Epoch Times.
Knowing Trump’s opponent was behind the allegations “would have raised very serious questions, certainly, about the credibility of the source” and the “veracity of the information,” Baker said. It would also have heightened “a substantial concern in my mind about whether we were going to be played.”
The testimony bolsters a key piece of special counsel John Durham’s case against Sussmann—that knowing the sources propelling Sussmann to meet with Baker would have altered how the FBI analyzed the information, which the bureau ultimately found did not substantiate the claims of a secret backchannel between the Trump Organization and Alfa Bank.
“Absent Sussmann’s false statement, the FBI might have taken additional or more incremental steps before opening and/or closing an investigation,” prosecutors said in Sussmann’s indictment, which charged him with lying to the FBI.
As Techno Fog notes:
The acquittal is no surprise. This is a DC jury, after all. In the Roger Stone case, for example, we documented how a juror lied to get on the panel. (That judge didn’t care.) Making matters worse, the Sussmann judge wrongly allowed for a woman to remain on the jury, despite the fact that her daughter and Sussmann’s are on the same high school crew team. One can’t help but think that juror had her own daughter’s interests in mind – the cohesion of the crew team – when she reached a decision.
On the facts, there was more than sufficient evidence to prove Sussmann’s guilt. Sussmann lied to then-FBI general counsel James Baker in order to get a meeting to pass the Alfa Bank hoax materials to the FBI. Sussmann lied again during the meeting – stating he was not there on behalf of a client – in order to get the FBI to open an investigation into the Trump Organization’s purported ties with Alfa Bank. Later, during testimony to Congress, Sussmann admitted he met with Baker on behalf of a client. Billing records proved he had been working on the Alfa Bank project on behalf of the Clinton Campaign.
I won’t say the verdict doesn’t matter. Of course it matters. It would have proven that a DC jury can convict one of their own. It would have resulted in accountability for lying to the FBI. Not the gravest of crimes, but it is still a crime.
In large part, the prosecution of Sussmann was hamstrung by the FBI’s investigation into the Alfa Bank allegations. That goes to materiality. How can the lies be material if the FBI’s investigation was so sloppy? (Answer: they were material because the lies helped open the investigation in the first place.)
On the issue of materiality, look to the testimony of FBI Special Agent Curtis Heide, whose repeated requests to interview the source of the Alfa Bank information were denied by headquarters. FBI Headquarters didn’t want this thing thoroughly vetted – even though they demanded the investigation be opened. As we stated during the trial:
Relatively early on in the investigation – on September 26, 2016 – Agent Heide sent a message to Pientka, requesting an interview of the source of the Alfa Bank white papers. By that time, Heide knew the white paper was bunk. He received no response from Pientka. He repeated this request on October 3, 2016. Agent Heide’s requests were rebuffed by his liaison at FBI headquarters:
That’s not the say the public hasn’t benefited from the trial. The information disclosed during the trial was important to understand the broader Clinton/Fusion GPS/Perkins Coie effort to poison the public, the press, and the FBI with their Trump/Russia lies.
Read the rest from Techno Fog here.
Meanwhile, here’s more on why many thought Sussmann would be found guilty:
Why Sussmann is guilty as charged.
The popular leftist narrative goes “who cares what Sussmann told Baker? Everyone knew he was working for the Clinton campaign.” It’s flawed because it’s asking the wrong question.
The right question is “would Baker have passed on Sussmann’s data to investigators had Sussmann informed him he was there representing the Clinton campaign?” The answer is no. In fact Baker said he wouldn’t have even taken the meeting.
“Baker insisted he had a clear memory that, at the 2016 meeting, Sussmann claimed he was not bringing the allegations to the FBI on behalf of any client.
“I’m 100 percent confident that he said that in the meeting,” he said.
The key point overlooked by most: Sussmann didn’t lie just to give himself cover. He lied so BAKER would have cover to hand the data over to Cyber Division. In fact the lie was necessary BECAUSE “everyone knew” Sussmann was working for the Clinton campaign. Including Sussmann.
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Sussmann was found not guilty. Many of us viewed the evidence was overwhelming. Yet, the jury either believed he did not lie or that the lie was not material. https://t.co/A20o2GPhQi— Jonathan Turley (@JonathanTurley) May 31, 2022
And let the arguments begin: