Durham Probe Judge Denies Hillary Clinton Lawyer’s Motion to Dismiss Case: Trial Next Month Unless Plea Deal

The federal judge presiding over the Russiagate case brought by Special Counsel John Durham has just dealt a huge blow to former Hillary Clinton campaign lawyer Michael Sussmann.

U.S. District Judge Christopher Cooper denied his motion to dismiss the case, confirming that his trial will go ahead next month unless he strikes a deal with prosecutors.

Sussmann filed a motion to dismiss the case in February but today Judge Cooper tossed the motion.

Cooper wrote: “Specifically, Sussmann allegedly told Baker that he was not attending the meeting on behalf of any client when, in fact, he had assembled and was conveying the information on behalf of two specific clients: (1) a technology-industry executive named Rodney Joffe and (2) the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign.

“The FBI opened an investigation based on the information Sussmann provided, but ultimately determined that there was insufficient evidence to support the existence of a communication channel between the Trump campaign and the Russian bank.

“Sussmann attacks the Special Counsel’s materiality theories on several fronts.

“The crux of his objections is that his purported statement lacks a sufficient nexus to the initiation of the investigation, or its subsequent pursuit, to support a conclusion that it was capable of influencing the FBI’s decision-making in any meaningful way.

“Sussmann contends that Mr. Baker and others at the FBI were fully aware of the political nature of his client representations, which the indictment itself notes.

“And he strongly challenges the Special Counsel’s contention that the statement could have lulled the FBI into not exploring the sources and origins of the underlying information.

“It beggars belief, Sussman suggests, that crack FBI investigators would not have asked such seemingly obvious follow-up questions as ‘who gave you this information?’ or ‘how was the data developed?’ simply because they believed he was not conveying the information on behalf of a particular client.

“The battle lines thus are drawn, but the Court cannot resolve this standoff prior to trial.

“In United States v. Gaudin, the Supreme Court unanimously held that because materiality is an element of a § 1001 offense, it is a question that generally must be answered by a jury.

“Indeed, all the cases Sussmann cites where courts have found alleged false statements to be immaterial were decided after a trial and on appeal from post-trial motions under Rule 29.

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“So, while Sussmann is correct that certain statements might be so peripheral or unimportant to a relevant agency decision or function to be immaterial under § 1001 as matter of law, the Court is unable to make that determination as to this alleged statement before hearing the government’s evidence.

“Any such decision must therefore wait until trial,” he wrote.

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By David Hawkins

David Hawkins is a writer who specializes in political commentary and world affairs. He's been writing professionally since 2014.

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