In breaking news Wednesday night, THE NEW YORK TIMES reports that Special Counsel John Durham has informed the Department of Justice that he will seek a grand jury indictment against Michael Sussmann of the law firm Perkins Coie for making a false statement to the FBI.
John Durham, remember him? Even President Trump has wondered from time to time what happened to him. Apparently, he’s just had his head down working, ever since he was assigned to the case by Bill Barr...in 2019. His status was raised to Special Counsel in December of 2020.
The NYT is subscription-only, but Rebecca Downs at TOWNHALL has details.
No discussion of the “Russia Russia Russia!” hoax would complete without bringing in the huge role played by Perkins Coie, the Clinton-affiliated law firm that in 2016 paid opposition research company Fusion GPS to hire former MI-6 spy Christopher Steele to dig up dirt and provide a report on then-candidate Donald Trump. That scheme produced the infamous “dossier” that contained outrageously fake stories like the one we all know involving Trump and some prostitutes in a Moscow hotel. We’ve covered the story of the phony “dossier” from the start and had always hoped the story of how it came to be would be completely exposed. Now, perhaps this is the first shoe dropping.
Incidentally, Perkins Coie was involved in shady activities in 2020 as well. For the year preceding the Trump/Biden race, it was Marc Elias, a partner at Perkins Coie, who coordinated the state-by-state effort to change election laws and procedures in ways that made it much easier to cheat almost undetectably. And never mind that these changes were supposed to be made by the state legislators, not judges and bureaucrats. All those millions of ballots being mailed out to every name on out-of-date voter rolls and stuffed into unmanned dropboxes? For destroying all trust in our election system, we have Marc Elias of Perkins Coie largely to thank.
Sussmann, a former federal prosecutor, is a partner at the firm as well. As reported by the NYT, he represented the Democratic National Committee “on issues related to Russia’s 2016 hacking of its servers.” As you can see, I’m quoting the TIMES there, as we do not actually have evidence that this “hacking” of the DNC servers was carried out by Russia. It’s part of their narrative that the mainstream media take as a given and keep repeating. We don’t.
But the fact that Sussmann was representing the DNC on this matter should tell you he is the Mother Lode of information on what really happened with that and where all the bodies are buried, so to speak. Not that we can pry it all out of him. There’s this little inconvenience called “attorney-client privilege” that limits what investigators can ask.
Anyway, the Special Counsel has been investigating Sussmann’s activities conveying “certain suspicions” about Trump and Russia –- related to what we have come to know as “the Russia Hoax” –- to James Baker at the FBI in September of 2016. Specifically, investigators want to know who his client was at the time. Investigators have been looking into whether he was secretly working for Hillary’s campaign. He denies that.
Sussmann’s reason for meeting with Baker was to further a long-since-debunked story about covert communication through suspicious “pings” between computer servers associated with the Trump Organization and Alfa Bank, a Russian financial institution linked to the Kremlin. That story has been so thoroughly discredited that Special Counsel Robert Mueller didn’t even mention it in his final report. But there was Sussmann, apparently trying to hand the FBI a fake story. I would add that this was the James Comey FBI, which was eager to run with all the anti-Trump stories it could find.
Baker, now out of the FBI, reportedly told investigators he recalled Sussmann saying he was not meeting him on behalf of any client. Likewise, according to Sussmann’s lawyers, Sussmann simply wanted to give the FBI a “heads-up” because he thought the NEW YORK TIMES was about to publish a story about the Alfa Bank allegations. Wasn’t that nice of him? (The NYT didn’t mention Alfa Bank at all until six weeks later.)
One problem, though: in a 2017 deposition before Congress, Sussmann testified that he had sought the meeting on behalf of an unnamed client, a cybersecurity expert whom he said had helped analyze the Alfa Bank data.
Second, even bigger problem: Durham has obtained billing records from Perkins Coie that show some of Sussmann’s time working on the Alfa Bank matter was billed to...(drum roll, please)...the 2016 Hillary Clinton campaign.
By the way, just a month ago, Marc Elias left Perkins Coie to form a separate law firm, Elias Law Group LLP. The press release says this new spinoff firm “will represent candidates, party committees, political committees, nonprofit organizations, entities and voters. Elias Law Group will be mission-driven, focusing on electing Democrats, supporting voting rights, and helping progressives make change.” More details here.
This new separation “will provide Elias Law Group with the independence to broaden its advocacy and types of matters on which it works, including by engaging more directly in the political and electoral process.”
As if Elias and Perkins Coie haven’t been engaged enough in that already. Elias will have offices in both DC and Seattle, where they’ll be “focused on helping Democrats win, citizens vote, and progressives make change.” And anyone who thought Perkins Coie was some little boutique law firm should think again: Perkins Coie is a huge international operation with 1,200 lawyers in offices “across the United States and Asia.” Watch out –- they’ve made this move as part of their gearing-up for the 2022 elections and are looking ahead to 2024, and judging from their past behavior, I don’t think they’ll waste much time debating the ethics of what they’re doing.
For now, though, Michael Sussmann is a major player who finally appears to have been caught in Durham’s net. Colton Salaz at JUST THE NEWS also has a write-up, and we look forward to investigative reporter John Solomon’s take as well, as he’s been all over this story for years.
“Mr. Sussmann has committed no crime,” his attorneys told the NYT. “Any prosecution here would be baseless, unprecedented and an unwarranted deviation from the apolitical and principled way in which the Department of Justice is supposed to do its work.”
Are these really Sussmann’s attorneys or a comedy writing team? Because that line about the DOJ is pretty darn funny.