‘Compelling evidence’: Former FBI official breaks down Michael Sussmann trial

Politics

(NewsNation) —  The trial of Michael Sussmann revolves around whether or not he was acting on behalf of the Clinton campaign when he presented information meant to cast suspicions on Donald Trump and possible links to Russia. And then lying to the FBI about it.

Former FBI Assistant Director for Intelligence Kevin Brock discussed the case during an appearance on “Morning in America”.

“I think they made a good start,” Brock said of the prosecution proving that Sussmann lied to the FBI.

“Right now it looks very compelling,” Brock said. “John Durham put on some very compelling evidence last week with the testimony of James Baker, former general counsel for the FBI.”

Sussmann is accused of lying to Baker during a meeting by saying he was not acting on behalf of a particular client when he shared claims of secret communications between a Trump organization computer server and one belonging to Alfa Bank, the largest private bank in Russia.

The Sussmann prosecution was brought by John Durham, the prosecutor appointed as special counsel during the Trump administration to investigate wrongdoing by government officials during the early days of the investigation into Russian election interference and potential ties with the Trump campaign.

Speaking with NewsNation, James Trusty, a former chief of the Department of Justice Organized Crime and Gang section, raised questions about the FBI’s role in the case.

“You know, were the FBI victims of false statements or were they willfully blind or even open-eyed in their approach to accepting this, to use it for political purposes?” Trusty said.

Brock said there are a couple of questions to be looked at.

“Number one, how did Michael Sussmann get access that easily to the seventh floor of the FBI to provide essentially a criminal complaint,” Brock said. “Most of us have to go through a call center. But he used his connections to James Baker to come into the building to make those assertions, it was a little bit too easy for him to do that in my mind.”

Sussmann’s lawyers deny he lied and sought to undermine Baker’s testimony by suggesting his memory of the September 2016 meeting with Sussmann was foggy and that his accounts of it had shifted over time.

“The FBI probably should have been a little bit more cautious about receiving that information,” Brock said. “I think they did vet it. I think they looked at what he was asserting and probably recognized pretty early on if we pay attention to the testimony that has been given that the information he was bringing to the FBI didn’t hold much water, didn’t have a lot of credibility.”

The FBI investigated Sussmann’s claims and found no evidence of the former president being involved with the Russians.

Trump has long claimed that Clinton and her campaign spied on him during the 2016 election, and many people believe that if Sussmann is in fact found guilty, that in some way will validate the former president’s claims.

A guilty verdict would add fuel to a conspiracy theory that Clinton and her campaign tried to frame Trump as colluding with Russia. 

“John Durham, keep in mind, is trying to tell the American people a larger story,” Brock said. “He’s using [the trial] as a conduit to show that there was a larger … plan to bring disinformation to the American voter.”

The Hill and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

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