If you didn’t already know, another individual affiliated with Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign has been charged after an investigation by Special Counsel John Durham has found evidence linking them to crimes against the U.S. and, more specifically, the campaign of then-presidential candidate Donald Trump.
Naturally, Clinton herself has been able to avoid such charges, as nothing of note has yet to have been found linking her directly to the crimes. Instead, it is only her henchmen, such as Clinton campaign lawyer Michael Sussmann, who have been found suspicious.
Sussmann’s case, as with any involving the Clinton campaign, has been appealed, with the defense arguing for dismissal. But as of Wednesday, a judge officially denied such a defense and ruled that the case and its trial set for May 16 would continue as planned.
While it might not seem all that serious, Sussman is charged with perjury for lying to the FBI during a meeting held in September of 2016. The meeting was to discuss certain concerns that Sussman supposedly had about a possible secret back door channel. He said he believed the Trump Organization was communicating with the Russia-based Alfa Bank. According to Sussman, cybersecurity researchers he worked for had found the potential security breach.
Naturally, the FBI began to investigate. But as with all other Trump-alleged misbehaviors, no proof was ever found that such existed or ever had.
What Durham found out was that Sussman had lied to the FBI about the whole matter. The goal was to obviously throw added suspicion on Trump and his business dealings, further fueling the idea that he was “colluding” with Russia and trying to rig the election in his favor.
Furthermore, Sussman had lied about who the concerns had come from. He claimed they came from a specific client of his when, in fact, it was the Clinton campaign and a technology executive tied to the Clinton campaign who had given him the information.
Now, while lying to a federal agent or agency is definitely against the law, it’s not always prosecutable. In order to do this, the Department of Justice not only has to prove that the statements were, in fact, false but also that they mattered or were “material” in the case. And so, the argument has become not whether or not Sussman actually lied, which of course, he did, but whether or not his lies made any difference in the case the FBI was investigating.
Durham says it does.
According to him, if the FBI had known that the information was being relayed via the Clinton campaign and not some supposedly unbiased third party, the investigation as a whole would have been handled differently. Durham says that additional steps would have been taken to first conclude whether or not the information was valid, as well as if it was even worth investigating, as it could have (and turned out to be) nothing more than a political smear campaign.
Basically, the motives and reliability of this information would have been more thoroughly examined.
But seeing as how they didn’t know where the tip came from, they investigated as though it was a valid threat first and foremost, making it into a much bigger deal than need be.
Of course, Sussmann’s lawyers say differently.
According to them, the FBI did, in fact, know about Sussman’s relationship to the Clinton campaign and yet, chose the treat the investigation as they did anyway, meaning that Sussman’s “lie” about who it came from didn’t matter and isn’t “material.”
As for who is correct and who isn’t, U.S. District Judge Christopher “Casey” Cooper says that’s up to a jury to decide. During his ruling on Wednesday that allows for the case to continue to trial, he wrote, “The battle lines thus are drawn, but the Court cannot resolve this standoff prior to trial.”
So far, Sussmann is one of three men who have been charged in the investigation into the Clinton campaign. Perhaps one of these days, we will see actual charges brought against their leader as well. We can only hope.