Special counsel John Durham may have uncovered a smoking gun in the government's case against Michael Sussmann when he published documents Monday night that show that Sussmann texted the FBI general counsel's personal cellphone, saying he was not working "on behalf of a client or company."
Sussmann was, in fact, working for two clients at the time — Hillary Clinton's 2016 presidential campaign and "Tech Executive-1."
The Washington Examiner identified "Tech Executive-1" as former Neustar executive Rodney Joffe.
When he met with FBI general counsel James Baker to advance since disproven claims about a secret communications channel between the Trump Organization and a Russia-based bank, the Democrat cybersecurity lawyer allegedly concealed his clients from the federal agent.
Last September, Sussmann was indicted on one count of making a materially false statement to an FBI official.
The Examiner reports that the indictment alleged Sussmann lied when he said he was not working on behalf of anyone, when he was actually passing the allegations on to the FBI on behalf of the Clinton campaign and Joffe.
Sussmann's lawyers tried to argue last year that there was no evidence to prove that Sussmann lied to Baker.
On Monday night, however, Durham unveiled a text message that showed Sussmann put the lie into writing on Sept. 18, 2016, which was the night before his meeting with Baker.
"Jim — it's Michael Sussmann," he wrote to the FBI official. "I have something time-sensitive (and sensitive) I need to discuss. 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."
Baker, who served as general counsel for the bureau from 2014 to 2018, will testify in the upcoming trial, Durham reportedly said in October.
On Monday, Durham said that Baker met with Bill Priestap, the assistant director of the FBI's counterintelligence division, as well as one of his FBI deputy general counsels.
"In communicating with these officials, the general counsel relayed the details of his meeting with the defendant, including defendant's specific representation that he was not there on behalf of any client," Durham said.
Priestap wrote in his notes that Baker said Sussmann "said not doing this for any client," while the deputy general counsel's notes read, in part, "No specific client but group of cyber academics talked with him about research."
Durham sought the court's permission to admit as evidence notes taken by both "as prior consistent statements by the general counsel and as past recorded recollection as to these witnesses."
The Examiner reports that Durham said Sussmann misled another U.S. government agency — likely the CIA — about whom he was working for during a February 2017 meeting about the questionable Russian bank connection.
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