A former senior FBI official testified Thursday that he was “100% confident” that Hillary Clinton campaign attorney Michael Sussman told him he had not provided information about Donald Trump’s possible ties to Russia on behalf of the campaign or any agent, critical testimony that Supports Special Counsel John Durham’s allegations that Sussman He illegally hid his political ties.
James Baker, former general counsel of the FBI, Watch Durham’s Most Importantbefore a jury in Washington, D.C., about his September 2016 meeting with Sussman, in which Sussman passed on information about Trump.
Sussman has pleaded not guilty to one count of lying to the FBI — specifically that he falsely told Baker that he was not there on behalf of any agents.
“He said he did not appear before me on behalf of any particular client, and that he had some information of concern regarding an apparently secret communications channel between something called Alfa Bank – which he described as connected to the Kremlin in Russia – and part of the Trump Organization in the US,” he said. said Baker, a former legal analyst for CNN.
FBI I looked at Trump-alpha advice And he decided within weeks that “there was nothing,” Becker said. One central theory in the Durham case is that Sussman tip-toed Baker on behalf of Clinton, but hid his campaign links as part of a scheme to trick the FBI into investigating Trump, and then get an “October surprise” about it. In the press.
At the witness stand, Baker said he “trusted” Sussman’s claim that he was there alone because they were friends, and he knew Sussman as a “serious attorney” who worked for the Department of Justice and had the cybersecurity expertise needed to understand Trump. Alpha data.
“I thought he’d come to see me as a good citizen who got some information,” Baker testified. “Knowing Michael, I think he wants to help the government.”
Baker’s testimony could bolster Durham, the Trump-era special counsel who has spent three years investigating possible misconduct in the FBI’s investigation between Trump and Russia. It delivered none of the surprising indictments Trump had hoped for, and Sussman’s trial is the first major courtroom test of his investigation, which has indicted three people.
But the verdict may turn out to how jurors assess Baker’s credibility. Sussman’s lawyers tried to shake it off with a zigzag questioning that highlighted how Becker’s answers to key questions turned out when testifying before Congress in 2018, to the Justice Department’s oversight body in 2019, and in his many interviews with Durham prosecutors, and on Witness . Whoa this week.
Defense attorney Sean Berkowitz had Baker admit that prosecutors “raised my memory” of what happened six years earlier at the Sussman meeting. Baker said that when he met with prosecutors in recent years, they refreshed his memories by asking specific questions and showing notes an FBI official wrote about their conversations.
Earlier on Thursday, Judge Christopher Cooper denied Sussman’s request to annul the trial.
Sussman’s lawyers argued Wednesday that he could not get a fair trial because a witness suggested Sussman could answer a key question by testifying in his own defense, in violation of his constitutional rights. The witness was Mark Eliaswho served as the Clinton campaign’s top attorney, and was otherwise a relatively useful witness in Sussman’s defense.
The prosecution summoned Elias to the stand, but it was the defense attorney who prompted him to make the comment in question. They asked if he knew if Sussman had brought Trump and Alpha’s advice to Baker “on behalf of the (Clinton) campaign”. Elias replied, “You should ask Mr. Sussman.”
Cooper ruled the bench against a wrongful trial Thursday morning, but acceded to Sussman’s request that some problematic parts of Elias’ testimony be crossed from the court record.
Defense attorneys also said Sussman has not decided whether to testify in his own defense. They are preparing to present a defense case with a handful of fact witnesses and character witnesses.
This story has been updated with additional details.
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