A federal jury has found former Hillary Clinton campaign lawyer Michael Sussmann not guilty of lying to the FBI. The verdict came midway through the second day of deliberations following a two-week trial on a single count of making false statements to a federal agent.
The prosecution sought to prove that Sussmann deliberately lied to then-FBI general counsel James Baker by claiming he was not acting on behalf of the Clinton campaign while providing him with data he said supported an alleged secret communications channel between the Russian Alfa Bank and the Trump Organization.
This “backchannel” was allegedly connected to the Kremlin.
The trial was held in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia before Judge Christopher Cooper and lasted 11 days, that is including jury selection and deliberations.
The Sussmann trial is only the first in Durham’s probe, which was created to look into the origins of the now-debunked Russia collusion plot.
“While we are disappointed in the outcome, we respect the jury’s decision and thank them for their service,” Durham said after the verdict. “I also want to recognize and thank the investigators and the prosecution team for their dedicated efforts in seeking truth and justice in this case.”
Prosecution attorneys said during the trial the material was “pure opposition research” and that Sussmann wanted an “October Surprise” in the 2016 presidential race.
Durham argued that Sussmann, who at the time was also a private attorney, was working on behalf of two clients, the Clinton campaign and former tech firm executive Rodney Joffe when he presented Baker with two computer thumb drives of data and whites papers that Sussmann said to support an alleged connection between the organization and the bank, which has connections to the Kremlin.
The next Durham probe trial will be in October in Virginia, this time for Igor Danchenko, a Russian analyst who is also accused of lying to the FBI in connection with the collusion plot.