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Judge In Durham-Sussmann Trial ‘Not Inclined’ To Declare Mistrial, Despite Attempt From Defense

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OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.


The federal judge overseeing Special Counsel John Durham’s case against former Clinton campaign lawyer Michael Sussmann said he was “not inclined” to declare a mistrial.

Sussmann’s lawyers said they were considering moving for a mistrial in the first trial from Durham.

Sussmann’s attorney, Sean Berkowitz, said on Wednesday afternoon that he may argue for a mistrial on Thursday following a lengthy exchange in court between Durham’s team and former Clinton campaign general counsel Marc Elias.

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Fox News reported:

At one point during cross-examination by the defense, Elias was asked whether Sussmann went to the FBI in September 2016 with data alleging a covert communications channel between Donald Trump and Russia’s Alfa Bank on behalf of the Hillary Clinton campaign.

“I think you’d have to ask Mr. Sussmann,” Elias said.

Later, the prosecution brought Sussmann’s response up — a move the defense said violated Sussmann’s rights.

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U.S. District Judge Christopher Cooper on Wednesday, though, seemed unimpressed.

“You should be prepared to deal with witnesses [tomorrow],” Cooper told Berkowitz. “I am not inclined to grant a mistrial.”

After hours of Elias’s testimony Wednesday, the government called former FBI General Counsel James Baker to the stand. Baker was questioned for about 45 minutes. Baker is expected to be questioned by the government for the better part of the morning on Thursday, as well as cross-examination from the defense. Baker falls at the center of the trial, as Sussmann is charged with making a false statement to the FBI when he told Baker in September 2016 — less than two months before the presidential election — that he was not doing work “for any client” when he requested and attended a meeting with Baker where he presented “purported data and ‘white papers’ that allegedly demonstrated a covert communicates channel” between the Trump Organization and Alfa Bank, which has ties to the Kremlin.

Last week, the judge gave Durham another victory in the trial.

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Judge Cooper ruled that GPS Fusion, the research firm Clinton’s 2016 campaign hired to dig up dirt on Trump’s alleged ties to Russia, must turn over nearly two dozen emails to Durham’s team.

“Those emails – which are largely exchanges between Clinton campaign lawyer Michael Sussman and Fusion GPS – are part of a batch that prosecutors subpoenaed last year. U.S. District Judge Christopher Cooper blocked prosecutors from getting 16 of those emails but allowed Durham to obtain 22,” Fox News reported.

“Cooper ruled that the 16 emails in question were protected by attorney-client privilege and attorney-work-product while the remaining 22 were not. Still, the judge ruled that those emails will not be admissible in the impending trial of Sussman – who is charged with lying to the FBI during a September 2016 meeting – because of the untimeliness of Durham’s request,” the report added.

Durham indicted Sussmann — a prominent lawyer who worked for the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign — for allegedly lying to FBI lawyer James Baker during a 2016 meeting about who he was representing when he gave information about Donald Trump and Russia to the bureau.

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Sussmann’s legal team has been fighting Durham over his efforts to secure a number of documents from Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign they have claimed are protected by the attorney-client privilege.

Durham has been arguing that the campaign could not hide materials based on that claim because the materials being hidden have already been widely distributed to third parties.

Last week, a federal judge in Washington, D.C., sided with Durham and ordered the former campaign to produce the documents requested by the special counsel.

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He went on to note that evidence presented at Sussmann’s trial will indicate that in late July 2016, the Clinton attorney along with Joffe and “agents of the Clinton campaign” was “assembling and disseminating the Russian Bank-1 allegations and other derogatory information about Trump and his associates to the media and the U.S. government.”

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