Ex-Clinton campaign lawyer Michael Sussmann on Friday sought to block the court’s admission of evidence against him during a trial for lying to the FBI.
The Friday filing also seeks the admission of exculpatory evidence in the case.
Sussmann faces charges from Special Counsel John Durham, whom the Justice Department appointed in October 2020 to investigate the origins of the Trump-Russia collusion narrative. He has pleaded not guilty.
Durham’s charge against Sussmann pertains to a September 2016 meeting he had with the FBI during which the former Perkins Coie partner showed the agency information allegedly linking Trump to the Russian government.
Attorneys for the former Clinton lawyer accuse Durham over “overreach” in the brief, asserting “he seeks to prove unduly prejudicial allegations he has not charged, and he seeks to prove conduct that is utterly irrelevant to the one discrete crime he has charged.”
“And, at the same time that he seeks to admit endless irrelevant evidence, he also seeks to prevent Mr. Sussmann from introducing relevant—indeed essential—exculpatory evidence in the form of testimony from his former client, Rodney Joffe,” they continue.
Rodney Joffe is a tech executive whom Durham alleges mined derogatory information about former President Donald Trump in order to create a “narrative” connecting him to the Kremlin.
Sussmann is seeking that the court grant immunity to Joffe so that he may testify freely, saying “the Special Counsel is simply wrong to suggest that Mr. Joffe’s testimony would not be exculpatory.” Durham has thus far declined to grant immunity to Joffe.
Much of Sussmann’s filing insists that evidence and testimony Durham seeks to bring to court is protected by attorney-client privilege and therefore inadmissible.
“The Special Counsel’s words and deeds make clear that he intends to offer evidence of particular clients’ assertions of attorney-client privilege,” the briefing reads. “But no matter how much he tries to style this evidence as ‘highly probative,’ it simply is not permitted by law.”
Durham, to Sussmann’s chagrin, also seeks to bring to trial evidence related to Christopher Steele and the “Steele Dossier.” The now-discredited files gained notoriety as one of the first pieces of “evidence” in the narrative of collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian government. Sussmann, for his part, argues that the Steele Dossier has tangential relevance to him and is an unnecessary addition to the trial.
“The Special Counsel seeks to invite the jury to infer that because Mr. Steele separately shared information with the government, allegedly in coordination with agents of the Clinton Campaign, that necessarily means Mr. Sussmann also shared information with the FBI on the Clinton Campaign’s behalf,” the filing reads.
“But this is a classic example of trying to prove guilt by association,” the Sussmann camp asserted.
The case is United States v. Sussmann.