The Democratic National Committee-connected lawyer charged in special counsel John Durham’s investigation into the origins of the FBI’s Trump-Russia probe is arguing the indictment is too vague to let him even mount a defense.
Durham last month accused Michael Sussmann of lying to the FBI when he told agents about research showing connections between servers registered to the Trump Organization and a Russian bank in 2016. The indictment said Sussmann’s alleged falsehoods impeded an FBI investigation.
But on Wednesday night, Sussmann argued in legal filings that the indictment “fails to allege the precise false statement that Mr. Sussmann purportedly made,” and doesn’t adequately explain how the FBI was impeded from doing its job, Business Insider reported.
“While the Indictment in this matter is 27 pages long, the majority of the allegations are not relevant to the crime the Special Counsel has chosen to charge,” Sussmann’s lawyers wrote. “And on that charge, a single alleged false statement, the Indictment plainly fails to provide Mr. Sussmann with the detail and clarity that the law requires and that is essential in enabling Mr. Sussmann to prepare his defense.”
Sussmann, who worked for the Department of Justice for 12 years, is a cybersecurity lawyer who represented the DNC when Russia hacked its servers in 2016, BI noted. Durham’s indictment alleges he lied when he told FBI agents he was working for computer researchers who discovered a link between the Trump Organization and Alfa Bank’s servers. Durham alleged Sussmann was billing his time for those conversations to Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign.
Former Attorney General Bill Barr had appointed Durham in May 2019 to investigate the roots of the FBI investigation into former President Donald Trump’s ties to Russia, which led to Robert Mueller’s two-year-long special counsel investigation. And before Trump left office, Barr appointed Durham as special counsel to ensure his probe would continue through the Biden administration.
In the Wednesday filing, Sussmann’s lawyers asked the judge overseeing the case to compel Durham to provide additional details bolstering his accusations. They said they previously asked Durham’s office to provide more detail for the indictment, but he refused.
“Counsel for Mr. Sussmann previously asked the Special Counsel to provide the detail and particulars identified above, but the Special Counsel declined to do so,” the lawyers wrote. “That decision simply cannot be reconciled with the law. Pursuant to the Constitution, the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure, and well-settled case law, Mr. Sussmann is entitled to understand the charge against him, to prepare his defense, and to safeguard against unfair surprise at trial.”