What else can you expect in 'The Swamp'?
Chad Groening (AFN)
A former Justice Department attorney says no one should be surprised that a jury in Washington, DC, would acquit a former associate of Hillary Clinton.
Court observers have stated throughout the Sussman trial that they would not be surprised by a "not guilty" verdict coming from the DC jury. J. Christian Adams, chief counsel for the Public Interest Legal Foundation, agrees.
"The whole town is a swamp town," Adams tells AFN. "I think that some of the jurors [have] kids who knew each other … and like two or three of them were Hillary donors. Sorry, you're not going to get a conviction when that happens."
The former DOJ attorney argues this was about the easiest case that could have been convicted.
"There's a text message from the defendant Sussman, as a I recall, that says I have something I need to meet with you about. It doesn't involve any other client – and it was the Trump dossier," he describes. "So, it is in writing by the defendant … and then the defendant lied to the FBI General Counsel.
"It's not a tough case – but there was still a two-week deliberation and acquittal."
Adams says it's unfortunate there is no fix to a situation like this where 70% of the registered voters in the District of Columbia are Democrats.
"The jury pool in DC is going to be so overwhelmingly federal government swamp, pro-Democrat … it's like a free-fire zone for left-wing misconduct in DC," he adds. "It's like what happened with the inauguration disruptors of Trump: those cases got dismissed."
And Adams predicts that doesn't bode well for the Trump supporters who remain incarcerated for participating in the January 6, 2021, rally when some stormed the U.S. Capitol. "They're going to have the worst of it," he shares. "You might as well not have the trial, it's going to be so bad."
The jury in the case of Michael Sussmann deliberated on Friday afternoon and Tuesday morning before reaching its verdict.
The case was the first courtroom test of special counsel John Durham since his appointment three years ago to search for government misconduct during the investigation into potential ties between Russia and Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign.
During the trial, the prosecution presented evidence that Sussman did not disclose he was working with the Clinton campaign when he went to the FBI just before the 2016 election with false information about an alleged tie between Trump and Russian interests.
Court observers have stated throughout the trial that they would not be surprised by a not guilty verdict coming from the D.C. jury. Fox News has reported that 70% of the registered voters in the District of Columbia are Democrats.
Speaking to reporters outside the courthouse after the verdict was delivered, Sussmann said he “told the truth to the FBI, and the jury clearly recognized that with their unanimous verdict today.”
He added: “Despite being falsely accused, I am relieved that justice ultimately prevailed in this case.”
In a separate statement, Durham said that though he and his team were disappointed in the outcome, they respected the jury's decision. He thanked the investigators and prosecutors on his team for their dedicated efforts in seeking truth and justice in this case."
The trial focused on whether Sussmann, a cybersecurity attorney and former federal prosecutor, concealed from the FBI that he was representing Clinton’s campaign when he presented computer data that he said showed a possible secret backchannel between Russia-based Alfa Bank and Trump’s business company, the Trump Organization. The FBI investigated but quickly determined that there was no suspicious contact.
The bureau’s then-general counsel and the government’s star witness, James Baker, testified that he was “100% confident” that Sussmann had told him that he was not representing any client during the meeting. Prosecutors say he was actually acting on behalf of the Clinton campaign and another client, and that he hid that information so as to make it seem more credible and to boost the chances of getting the FBI to investigate.
Lawyers for Sussmann deny that he lied, saying that it was impossible to know with certainty what he told Baker since they were the only participants in the meeting and neither of them took notes.
They argued that if Sussmann said he wasn’t acting on the Clinton campaign’s behalf that that was technically accurate since he didn’t ask the FBI to take any particular action. And they said that even if he did make a false statement, it was ultimately irrelevant since the FBI was already investigating Russia and the Trump campaign and would have looked into the Alfa Bank data no matter the source.
During the two-week trial, jurors heard from current and former FBI officials who described efforts to assess the data’s legitimacy as well as former Clinton campaign aides.
The original Trump-Russia investigation, overseen for two years by former special counsel Robert Mueller, found multiple efforts by Russia to interfere on the Trump campaign’s behalf but did not establish that the two sides had worked together to sway the election.
After Mueller’s work was done, then-Attorney General William Barr named a new Justice Department prosecutor, then-Connecticut U.S. Attorney Durham, to examine whether anyone from the FBI or other agencies violated the law as the government opened its investigation into Russian election interference and the Trump campaign.
Durham has remained at work into the Biden administration. He has brought three cases so far, though the one against Sussmann is the only to have reached trial. A former FBI lawyer, Kevin Clinesmith, was given probation after pleading guilty in 2020 to altering an email related to the surveillance of an ex-Trump campaign aide, and a Russian analyst who contributed to a dossier of Democratic-funded research into ties between Russia and Trump awaits trial on charges of lying to the FBI about his sources of information.