Former Hillary Clinton campaign lawyer Michael Sussmann, who has been charged with lying to the FBI, has filed a motion requesting that special counsel John Durham not be able to use a tweet by Hillary Clinton in his upcoming trial.
Sussmann’s lawyers have repeatedly tried to get the charges against him dismissed, but those efforts have been unsuccessful. His trial is set to begin next month.
Here’s the tweet Sussmann and his lawyers are trying to prevent from being admitted into his trial:
Computer scientists have apparently uncovered a covert server linking the Trump Organization to a Russian-based bank. pic.twitter.com/8f8n9xMzUU
— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) November 1, 2016
Why is this tweet important, and why do Sussmann’s lawyers want to keep it out of his trial?
Sussmann is accused of making a false statement to the FBI on Sept. 19, 2016, by telling them he wasn’t representing any client when he presented evidence to them alleging a link between Donald Trump and Russian bank Alfa Bank—a link which turned out to be completely bogus.
The Clinton tweet included a statement citing an Oct. 31, 2016 story from Slate, a left-wing website, which reported on the alleged connection between Trump and Alfa Bank. The story claimed that a group of computer scientists had sought to determine “whether hackers were interfering with the Trump campaign” and unexpectedly found “evidence” of communication between Trump and Alfa Bank.
The Clinton campaign jumped on the story, insisting that this “evidence” could be “the most direct link yet between Donald Trump and Moscow.”
Sussmann’s lawyers claim the tweet is not relevant to the case. “The Tweet, which was posted on October 31, 2016, does not reveal anything about Mr. Sussmann’s state of mind over a month earlier when he purportedly made the alleged false statement,” they say. “There is no evidence that Mr. Sussmann’s meeting with [FBI general counsel James] Baker had anything to do with the Clinton Campaign’s broader media strategy.”
Except it likely does.
As I wrote back in February, “The Clinton campaign was certainly quick to release a statement on the Slate story — exactly three hours after it had been published. Did they know the story was coming? Were they behind it, and the fake evidence?” I believed at the time that the prompt reaction to the story suggests that the Clinton campaign knew the story was coming, and they likely knew because Sussmann, who gave the FBI the bogus tip, must have leaked the story to Slate and informed the Clinton campaign, his client, that the story was coming.
One thing is for sure: Sussmann’s legal team wouldn’t be trying to prevent the tweet from being shown at the trial if wasn’t damaging to their case, and I suspect I’m spot-on as to why.
Story cited here.
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