OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.
Special counsel John Durham has suffered a notable defeat in his case to convict former Hillary Clinton campaign lawyer Michael Sussmann.
According to the Washington Times, U.S. District Judge Christopher Cooper denied a request by Durham’s prosecutors to remove a juror whose daughter competes on the same high school sports team as Sussmann’s daughter.
The Daily Wire adds:
A woman identified as juror #5 told Cooper on Thursday that she recently discovered that her daughter competes with cybersecurity attorney Michael Sussmann’s daughter on their high school crew team. The juror said she was unaware of the connection when she was filling out her jury questionnaire last week and that the two girls, separated by a three-year age gap, are not close…
The juror said that she had never met Sussmann or his wife, and thought she could be an impartial juror despite the connection. The judge agreed, voicing disappointment that the issue couldn’t have been brought to light earlier, but saying that the juror’s willingness to come forward after finding out herself spoke to seriousness with which she approached her duty as a juror.
Cooper overruled protests from the prosecution. Durham’s team moved to have the juror dismissed, arguing they would not have agreed to seat her had they known of the connection. Sussmann’s defense team argued she should stay.
“The connection is not so close that it affects her impartiality,” Cooper said. “She did not know the connection, unfortunately, when she filled out the questionnaire.”
“As a senior, her daughter is probably out of there anyway,” he added.
The juror, along with the rest of the jury, will decide whether Sussmann lied to then-FBI General Counsel James Baker during a September 2016 meeting when he said he had information for the bureau concerned an alleged tie between then-GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump and Russia, a link that turned out to have been fabricated.
Sussmann told Baker he was not meeting with him on behalf of any client but in fact, he was there on behalf of the Clinton campaign and tech executive Rodney Joffe, who was also linked to Clinton’s campaign.
Cooper’s ruling was critiqued by George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley, who noted that the decision was one in a series of recent rulings that have been favorable to the defense — along with the fact that the jurors all come from Washington, D.C., where Democrats are in the super-majority.
“The judge in the Sussmann trial just delivered another blow to the prosecution in refusing to remove a juror due to a connection to the defendant’s daughter,” Turley tweeted. “Once again the contrast with the [former Trump National Security Adviser Michael] Flynn trial is glaring.”
…So one of the jurors will be allowed to vote on whether to send the father of her daughter’s teammate to prison. So we is joining three Clinton donors on the jury, including one who could only promise to “strive for impartiality as best I can.” https://t.co/BCSKLsl98T
— Jonathan Turley (@JonathanTurley) May 19, 2022
“So one of the jurors will be allowed to vote on whether to send the father of her daughter’s teammate to prison. So [she] is joining three Clinton donors on the jury, including one who could only promise to ‘strive for impartiality as best I can,'” he added.
Cooper himself appears to have a number of conflicts of interest with the case, as The Daily Wire adds:
Cooper has ties to Trump-Russia collusion figures and leading Democrats going back decades. His 1999 marriage to his wife was officiated by sitting Attorney General Merrick Garland. Former President Barack Obama appointed Cooper to his district court seat in 2014 after unanimous approval by the Senate.
Cooper has said he was “professional acquaintances” with Sussmann decades ago when both worked at the Justice Department in the 1990s. Cooper’s wife has served as attorney for former FBI lawyer Lisa Page, a key figure in the FBI’s Crossfire Hurricane investigation into the Trump campaign, since 2018.