Special Counsel John Durham is pushing for access to files from the failed presidential campaign of Hillary Clinton and others related to the FBI’s investigation into an alleged ‘secret channel’ between the former president’s 2016 campaign Donald Trump and Russia.
All parties are due in court on Wednesday for a hearing on defense claims that the documents should not be used in attorney Michael Sussmann’s upcoming trial.
He is accused of lying about his ties to the Clinton campaign when he was briefed by the FBI on since-debunked research into alleged cybercommunications between Russia’s Alfa Bank and the Trump Organization.
In court documents filed last month, Durham said the Democratic National Committee, Hillary for America, research firm Fusion GPS and powerful law firm Perkins Coie – where Sussmann was formerly a partner – “all withheld and/ or redacted documents and communications” that could potentially be used against the defendant.
Durham said he made the decision “based on an apparent theory that political opposition research and/or public relations work…falls within the legitimate scope of solicitor-client privilege and the protection of work products”.
“They did so despite the fact that nearly all of these documents appear to have no connection to actual or expected litigation or the provision of legal advice,” wrote members of the Durham team.
“In fact, of the 1,455 documents retained by [Fusion GPS]only 18 emails and attachments implicate a lawyer.
Durham asked Washington, D.C. federal judge Christopher Cooper to review the records in secret to “ensure that only communications and testimony legitimately privileged and/or protected by an attorney’s work products are withheld.” among the otherwise admissible evidence and testimony presented to the jury”.
In a mammoth 342-page response filed last week, Fusion GPS – which commissioned the infamous Trump dossier compiled by former British spy Christopher Steele – said Cooper should instead grant a defense motion to dismiss the motion. of Durham as “procedurally inappropriate”.
The firm also accused Durham of staging an “eleventh-hour attempt to breach” her attorney-client privilege with Perkins Coie and the work she did for the firm in 2016.
Durham “attempts to characterize Fusion’s work as opposition research and media outreach, rather than privileged investigative and analytical work,” Fusion GPS lawyers wrote.
“But it’s not a binary choice between opposition research or privileged investigative work protected by the attorney’s work product doctrine.”
Sussmann’s trial is scheduled to begin with jury selection on May 16. If found guilty, he would face a maximum of five years in prison.
New York Post