Sussmann found not guilty in trial linked to Trump-Russia probe

Politics

(NewsNation) — A jury has found Michael Sussmann not guilty of lying to the FBI when he pushed a now-debunked tip alleging a link between Donald Trump and Russia in the run-up to the 2016 election.

The jury in the two-week trial against the former lawyer for Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign deliberated on Friday afternoon and Tuesday morning before reaching its verdict.

“I told the truth to the FBI and the jury clearly recognized that,” Sussmann said following the verdict.

Saying he was falsely accused, Sussmann thanked his lawyers “relieved that justice ultimately prevailed.”

Prosecutors worked to make the case he lied over the course of the trial, the first courtroom test of the investigation by special counsel John Durham, which has run for more than 3 years.

Durham did not respond to questions following the verdict.

The trial focused on whether Sussmann concealed from the FBI that he was representing Clinton’s campaign on September 19, 2016, when he arranged a private meeting with the FBI’s then-general counsel James Baker to pass along information that he said showed a possible secret backchannel between Russia’s Alfa-Bank and the Trump campaign. 

Prosecutors said Sussmann was actually acting on behalf of the Clinton campaign and another client, and that he hid that information to make it seem more credible and to boost the chances of getting the FBI to investigate.

Baker testified that he was “100% confident” that Sussmann had told him that he was not representing any client during the meeting.

Sussman has maintained that he had a number of clients, some of which work in the cyber world. And he says that they brought him the information he shared with the FBI.

Former Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook had testified that Clinton did indeed approve a plan to deliver unvetted claims about Trump and Russia to the media. Mook also testified, however, that the campaign never instructed anyone to go to the FBI.

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

Sussmann’s attorneys argued that there can be two truths: that Sussmann was working for the Clinton campaign but that he still brought information to the FBI independently.

In their closing arguments, his attorneys accused the government of “misdirection” by trying to make the case look like a political conspiracy.

Sussmann’s acquittal draws questions about Durham, who was appointed special counsel during the Trump administration, and why the case was ever started in the first place.

Durham has brought three criminal cases so far, though only one has been against a federal government employee and none of them has established any sort of sweeping conspiracy to frame Trump or derail his candidacy. 

The former president reacted to the verdict on Truth Social, accusing the legal system of being corrupt, accusing judges of being “highly partisan, compromised, or plain scared.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report

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