Michael Sussmann, a former campaign lawyer of 2016 Presidential Candidate Hillary Clinton, was found not guilty of lying to the FBI on Tuesday, May 31.
Sussmann was accused of providing then-FBI General Counsel James Baker information in 2016 on two USB flash drives and three white papers that purportedly demonstrated a link between then-candidate Donald Trump and the Russian government.
FBI experts quickly determined the information from Sussmann did not prove the allegations, and the CIA later concluded the claims were not “technically plausible.”
Prosecutor John Durham claimed that Sussmann misled Baker by repeatedly insisting that the information was not coming from the Clinton campaign. He claimed that was disproven when it was revealed that the entire Trump-Russia story came from a fabricated dossier purchased by the Clinton campaign.
Durham also alleged that Sussmann was billing hours to the campaign for his visits with Baker and the FBI.
Baker was the trial’s star witness, testifying that he was “100% confident” that Sussmann explicitly told him that he was not representing any client.
Sussmann’s lawyers, Sean Berkowitz and Michael Bosworth, said that Sussmann should never have faced charges in the first place.
“This is a case of extraordinary prosecutorial overreach. And we believe that today’s verdict sends an unmistakable message to anyone who cares to listen: Politics is no substitute for evidence, and politics has no place in our system of justice,” the lawyers said.
The result of the case was highly controversial for several reasons. First, the jury pool consisted of residents of Washington D.C., where Democrats outnumber Republicans 14 to 1. In the more than 60 years since Washington D.C. received its three electoral votes after the ratification of the 23rd Amendment in 1961, it has never once given them to a Republican candidate.
As the jury names are anonymous, the exact composition is unknown, but as many as three members of the 12-person jury are believed to have donated to Clinton’s campaign in 2016, according to the New York Post. Additionally, former President Barack Obama appointed the judge who oversaw the trial.
Reactions to the news from conservative outlets, politicians, and pundits came in swiftly after the decision was announced, including a tweet from Donald Trump Jr.
“I’m shocked the DC Clinton donor jury let Clinton’s lawyer off… HAHAHA just kidding, absolutely no one is shocked. Hunter Biden off next then Paul Pelosi etc etc. We all know how this goes by now… Only people not tied to the establishment DC swamp ever face accountability,” he wrote.
“The Swamp always protects its own,” tweeted the official account of the GOP House Judiciary.
“Our Country is going to HELL, and Michael Sussmann is not guilty. How’s everything else doing?” former President Donald Trump posted on his official Truth Social account.
Durham, the prosecutor, was appointed in 2019 by then-President Trump’s Attorney General William Barr to investigate the origins of Russian collusion allegations. Durham left the courthouse without commenting but later released a prepared statement.
“While we are disappointed in the outcome, we respect the jury’s decision and thank them for their service,” he said. “I also want to recognize and thank the investigators and the prosecution team for their dedicated efforts in seeking truth and justice in this case.”
This was the third trial Durham has undertaken against the FBI and other federal officials related to the Trump-Russia investigation. He has so far been unable to secure a conviction.