- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 13, 2022

A federal judge on Wednesday rejected a motion by former Clinton campaign lawyer Michael Sussmann to dismiss the criminal charge against him filed by special counsel John Durham.

The decision by U. S. District Judge Christopher Cooper means that Mr. Sussmann will stand trial next month on one count of making a false statement to the FBI.

Attorneys for Mr. Sussmann argued that there is insufficient evidence to prosecute him, because the charge is based on what was said in an informal one-on-one meeting. They also argued that there is little evidence what Mr. Sussmann told top FBI attorney James Baker affected the bureau’s decision to investigate the Trump campaign in 2016.

Prosecutors say Mr. Sussmann lied to Mr. Baker when he presented evidence of purported back-channel communications between the Trump Organization and a Russian bank. Mr. Sussmann said he was not representing any client when he presented the allegations, but Mr. Durham alleges he later billed the Clinton campaign for the meeting.

The allegations of links between the Trump Organization and Russia’s Alfa Bank have since been debunked.

Judge Cooper, who was appointed by former President Obama, said Mr. Sussmann‘s argument largely ignores whether his statements could have influenced “any function” of the FBI.

“As the Special Counsel argues, it is at least possible that statements made to law enforcement prior to an investigation could materially influence the later trajectory of the investigation. Sussmann offers no legal authority to the contrary,” Judge Cooper wrote in a six-page decision.

The judge went on to say that Mr. Sussmann may have a legitimate argument, but it’s not an issue that can be resolved at the pretrial stage.

Mr. Sussmann‘s trial is scheduled to begin on May 16. The decision Wednesday clears a path for the trial to go forward.

• Jeff Mordock can be reached at jmordock@washingtontimes.com.

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