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Setback in Durham Probe After Judge Limits Prosecutor’s Evidence


A federal judge on Saturday turned down Special Counsel John Durham’s request for a ruling establishing a lawyer facing charges for false statements to the FBI was part of a wide-ranging “joint-venture” implicating Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign, top Democratic operatives, private investigation firm Fusion GPS, and other technology researchers.

According to Politico, the decision by the Obama-appointed U.S. District Court Judge Christopher Cooper would deny Durham’s request and limit “evidence and testimony prosecutors can offer against attorney Michael Sussmann.”

Essentially, the ruling would spare the Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee from implications they had coordinated to level, since discredited, allegations against former President Donald Trump or his allies that they had maintained a data connection from Trump Tower to Russia’s Alfa Bank.

Durham’s probe alleges Sussman lied to FBI investigators “when he approached the bureau’s top lawyer James Baker with what he described as evidence of links between Trump Tower and Alfa Bank.”

According to reporting from Matt Taibbi, the “case against Sussmann is weak because his alleged crime was lying to the FBI, when the FBI knew full well he was working for the Clinton campaign.” But as Judge Cooper puts it, if prosecutors are allowed to lay out evidence of conspiracy, it would be tantamount to a “time-consuming and largely unnecessary mini-trial.” Additionally, Durham has not charged Sussmann with conspiracy, only with a “narrow” false statement to the FBI.

Taibbi adds that “the Clinton campaign systematically planted phony stories about things like the Trump-Alfa business, the pee tape/blackmail tale, and Carter Page’s supposed role as a Trump-Russia conduit; the FBI went along with the fiction that inquiries launched on these matters did not originate as paid research from the Clinton campaign; and a parade of news media figures were culpable either as dupes or witting participants in these frauds, which in the case of the Alfa stunt was executed in a ‘hurry’ to affect a presidential election.”

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