Special counsel Durham wants to bring up Trump-Russia dossier at trial against Clinton campaign lawyer

Two late-night appearances by Sussmann and Durham provided the first hint that the special counsel plans to bring Steele and his politically tense 2016 dossier into the case.

Sussmann was accused of lying regarding a September 2016 meeting with a senior FBI official, where he provided information about strange cyber activity between the Trump Organization and a major Russian bank. Prosecutors say Sussmann falsely denied providing information on behalf of a client, and was actually working for the Clinton campaign at the time. He has pleaded not guilty.

New documents unsealed Monday suggest that rather than narrowly focusing on Sussmann’s alleged lie and the specific meeting where it allegedly occurred, Durham plans to describe at trial how the Clinton campaign tried to unearth then-candidate Donald Trump and his ties. with Russia.

Sussmann’s attorneys want the judge to stop Durham from presenting evidence on the record at trial and to stop prosecutors from calling Steele as a witness at trial next month.

“The special counsel must not be allowed to turn Mr. Sussmann’s trial on a limited charge of false statement into a circus filled with sideshows that will only fuel partisan fervor,” the attorneys wrote, saying Steele’s work “does not is related” to the case and is “incendiary and irrelevant”.

Durham prosecutors said in their own filing that they hope to introduce at trial an old statement by Steele about a meeting he had with Sussmann where they discussed the Trump-Russia cyber claims. Taken together, the documents indicate that Durham could try to call Steele as a witness.

Ultimately, it’s up to DC District Court Judge Christopher Cooper to decide how much information about Steele may come out at trial. He is also reviewing a motion by Sussmann to dismiss the indictment altogether, citing legal flaws. Durham’s team says his case is strong.

The Durham investigation has faced repeated criticism for trying to keep alive right-wing complaints about the Russia investigation. Durham has not brought any cases alleging the widespread abuses by US law enforcement or intelligence agencies that are central to these complaints.

There is no indication in the 27-page indictment against Sussmann that he discussed the Steele dossier during his September 2016 meeting with then-FBI General Counsel James Baker, where Sussmann allegedly made the false statement that is the basis of his criminal indictment. .

However, Sussmann was working at the time for Perkins Coie, the law firm that hired the Clinton campaign and indirectly hired Steele to investigate the Trump-Russia relationship. And Sussmann met with Steele a month before meeting Baker, but he didn’t know the dossier existed until after the 2016 election, according to Sussmann’s earlier testimony to Congress.
Steele’s dossier contained explosive and lewd accusations about Trump, including unproven claims that his campaign worked closely with the Kremlin to defeat Clinton in 2016. But in the years since that election, a series of federal investigations and lawsuits Civilians have discredited many of Steele’s main supporters. accusations and exposed the unreliability of his sources.

If Durham is allowed to bring up the dossier at trial, it would highlight secret efforts by Clinton allies to push the collusion narrative, which has become a hotly debated political issue. Trump denies wrongdoing and says Democrats faked their ties to Russia, while many Democrats still believe Trump’s dealings with Russia are a serious national security threat.

The FBI investigated Sussman’s tip, but found no inappropriate cyber link between the Trump Organization and the Moscow-based Alfa Bank. But related investigations found substantial links between the Trump orbit and the Russians that were connected to the Kremlin’s pro-Trump meddling efforts. The new filing now indicates that the Sussmann case will likely revise some of this history.

Special counsel Robert Mueller spent two years investigating possible collusion in the 2016 election. His investigation did not establish a criminal conspiracy between Trump and Russia, but it did uncover dozens of contacts between Trump campaign associates and Russian agents.

For his part, Steele previously testified in deposition as part of at least one civil lawsuit related to the dossier, met with Mueller investigators and gave written testimony before a Senate panel.

CNN’s Katelyn Polantz contributed to this report.

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