Ministry of Justice via AP
A Washington lawyer who specializes in cybersecurity issues has been indicted for lying to the FBI ahead of the 2016 election in a conversation about possible ties between Donald Trump and Russia.
Michael Sussman, a former federal prosecutor who works for a law firm with long ties to the Democratic Party, is the second person to be indicted in Special Counsel John Durham’s investigation into the origins of the FBI’s investigation between Trump and Russia.
Sussman faces one count of false statements regarding a conversation he had with the FBI General Counsel in September 2016. At that meeting, Sussman shared information about possible ties between a Russian lender linked to the Kremlin, Alpha Bank, and a computer server in the Trump Organization.
The indictment alleges that Sussman told General Counsel, Jim Baker, that he did not pass on the information at the request of any client. But prosecutors allege he was providing the material on behalf of a tech industry executive and Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.
The indictment said the lie was significant because it misled the FBI and deprived the FBI of “information that may have allowed it to assess and disclose relevant data assets and technical analysis, including the identities and motives of Sussman’s agents.”
Congressional investigators asked Sussman in 2017 about this episode with Baker.
Sussman testified that he passed the information on behalf of a client, a cybersecurity expert. Sussman said he had no specific request to the FBI; He just wanted the office to be aware of the information.
In separate testimony before Congress, Baker told lawmakers that Sussman told him that “he has Internet experts who have obtained some information they believe should be in the hands of the FBI.”
Mysterious computer communications became the topic of numerous news articles in the fall of 2016. Both the FBI and congressional investigators examined the sounds between computer systems and determined that they were harmless.
Sussman works on cyber security and privacy issues at Perkins Coie. The law firm’s political law group represented the Clinton presidential campaign and has long advised the Democratic National Committee.
Durham was tapped in 2019 by then-Attorney General William Barr to look into the genesis of the FBI’s investigation into ties between the Trump campaign and Russia. So far, only one person – a former low-level FBI lawyer named Kevin Clisesmith – He was accused in the investigation.
Clesmith, who pleaded guilty to falsifying an email that was used to monitor a former Trump campaign adviser, was sentenced to one year in prison.