The cybersecurity lawyer indicted this week by a grand jury in special counsel John Durham’s investigation could end up being the “fall guy” for Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign, warned a top House Republican.
Rep. Devin Nunes, the ranking member on the House Intelligence Committee, told Newsmax on Thursday there is evidence of a broad Russia collusion conspiracy — allegations the congressman’s team investigated and referred to the Justice Department. But, he cautioned the Clintons “have a long history of their lawyers and agents disappearing.”
Michael Sussmann, a former attorney from Perkins Coie, is accused of falsely telling the top FBI lawyer he had no clients when he was representing a technology executive and the Clinton campaign during a meeting on possible links between former President Donald Trump and Russia. Sussmann pleaded not guilty to a charge of lying to the FBI on Friday, with lawyers insisting he never said he didn’t have clients and was representing only the technology executive.
The Perkins Coie law firm has already been tied to the Russia matter. Robby Mook, Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign manager, said in 2017 he authorized Marc Elias — another attorney who, up until recently, worked for Perkins Coie — to hire an outside firm to dig up dirt on Trump’s connections with Russia in 2016. This led to British ex-spy Christopher Steele’s discredited anti-Trump dossier.
Nunes contended evidence in the “slam dunk” indictment has solid evidence showing Sussmann was integral in helping the Clinton team develop the narrative there was a secret backchannel between Russia’s Alfa Bank and the Trump Organization. The FBI investigated the claims and could not find evidence to support them but not before the media reported on the inquiry and the Clinton campaign promoted the allegations leading up to the 2016 contest.
Beyond the “circumstantial evidence” the California Republican said he already had, the congressman said, “We now have emails and communications, and clearly, Durham’s done interviews in this.”
“I would hope that this is only the first of several other indictments,” said Nunes, adding there are government officials he still wants to be held accountable. But he stressed the new indictment does not look good for members of the Clinton campaign and others involved, some of whom have made their way into the Biden administration, such as White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan.
Nunes said Durham is “circling the wagons” and would “be surprised” if Sussmann did not reach a plea agreement.
“There was a conspiracy here,” Nunes said. “You’ve heard me talk about this for many, many years. The Clinton campaign conspired with really bad agents and bad actors within the FBI and other locations. So, this guy you’ve got lying to the FBI. We know people conspired to do this. Conspiracy is a major charge, and it can be very, very broad. That’s what I would like to see — was this the only guy that did it? Is he going to be the fall guy for the Clinton campaign? We’ve seen that in history, remember? We’ve seen people in history be the fall guy for the Clintons.”
Durham was a U.S. attorney appointed by former Attorney General William Barr to investigate the origins and conduct of the Trump-Russia investigation and received special counsel status last year to continue his work into the Biden administration. © Provided by Washington Examiner Hillary Clinton greets supporters during a presidential primary Election Night rally in 2016. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)
Durham’s endeavor has long been criticized by Democrats and legal observers who claim the inquiry is meant to undercut Robert Mueller’s special investigation into alleged ties between the Trump 2016 campaign and Russia. Still, Trump and his allies have championed it as a means to root out corrupt officials to settle political scores.
Mueller’s team was unable to find a criminal conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russia. However, his report described 10 instances of possible obstruction of justice that Democrats seized on as a road map to impeachment. The investigation also led to several convictions and guilty pleas from Trump’s associates over charges unrelated to collusion with Russia.
In the more than two years he has conducted his inquiry into the genesis and conduct of the Russia investigation, Durham has not sought any charges related to conspiracy. So far, Durham has obtained only a single guilty plea from former FBI lawyer Kevin Clinesmith, who admitted to altering an email about a Trump campaign aide under government surveillance.
Recent reports suggest the prosecutor is considering criminal prosecutions of lower-level FBI agents and others as he investigates information provided to the FBI in 2016 that spurred on the Trump-Russia investigation.