Durham Had the Receipts, but the Pro-Hillary Jury Was Never Going to Convict Sussmann. Here's Why.
On Tuesday, a Washington, D.C., jury acquitted Clinton lawyer Michael Sussmann of lying to the FBI, falsely claiming that he wasn’t working on behalf of a client when he delivered the bogus Trump dirt to federal agents.
Sussmann claimed that Trump had a secret communications channel with the Kremlin. FBI agents found no evidence that such a channel existed.
If you’re angry about the verdict, you should be. But you shouldn’t be all that surprised. The problem was that Sussmann’s fate was in the hands of a pro-Hillary jury, and it seemed inevitable that they would acquit him. Nearly a quarter of potential jurors that had been screened donated to Hillary’s campaign or had strong feelings about the election. This should have made them ineligible to be on the jury of her campaign lawyer.
In fact, under questioning by the prosecutor, several of these jurors were unable to confirm that their political views wouldn’t influence their views in the jury room.
“I’d like to believe not, but it’s hard to say,” one Hillary donor in the juror pool said.
Donald Trump won only 4 percent of the vote in Washington, D.C., making the possibility of a politically balanced jury virtually impossible. The Obama-appointed judge, U.S. District Judge Christopher Cooper, didn’t seem to think that this was an issue, and simply instructed the potential jurors with pro-Clinton views that the trial wasn’t about the 2016 election.
“This case has political overtones, but Hillary Clinton is not on trial. Donald Trump is not on trial. Michael Sussmann is on trial and he deserves a fair one,” he told them.
He deserved a fair trial, for sure, but a fair trial is not one where the jury was biased in his favor.
Special Counsel John Durham had the receipts and testimony to back up his case, and it’s hard to imagine an open-minded jury looking at this evidence and acquitting him.
For example, John Durham had tangible evidence of Sussmann’s lie in the form of text messages.
“Jim – it’s Michael Sussmann. I have something time-sensitive (and sensitive) I need to discuss,” a text message from Sussmann to the FBI reads. “Do you have availibilty [sic] for a short meeting tomorrow? I’m coming on my own – not on behalf of a client or company – want to help the Bureau. Thanks.”
In addition to that, there’s proof that Sussmann billed Hillary’s campaign for the work he did in getting the dirt and delivering it to the FBI.
There was also the testimony of FBI official James A. Baker, who said that he would have “made a different assessment” of the information Sussmann gave him had he known he had approached him on behalf of Hillary Clinton.
“It would have raised very serious questions” about “the credibility of the source,” Baker said.
Baker testified that Sussmann told him “he was coming to see me as a good citizen,” and because he was a friend and a former colleague, Baker “believed it and believed the statement was truthful.” He also testified that he wouldn’t have taken the meeting if he had known that Sussmann had been representing Hillary Clinton.
Sussman lied, and that lie was consequential. But justice wasn’t served when the jury came back with their not-guilty verdict.
As much as I expected this, I’m still furious.
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