Members of the press were blocked from a pre-trial hearing Tuesday in the federal case against Clinton campaign lawyer Michael Sussmann so both sides could discuss classified materials.
Courthouse officials patrolled Judge Christopher Cooper’s courtroom moments before the hearing began and checked the names of attendees against a list of those permitted to be there.
Anybody not on the list, including members of the news media and the public, was ordered to leave the hearing.
Mr. Sussmann is charged with lying to the FBI when he allegedly obscured his ties to the Clinton campaign when he peddled now-debunked evidence of covert communications between Russia’s Alfa Bank and former President Donald Trump.
The charges stem from special counsel John Durham’s probe of the origins of the FBI investigation of Trump-Russia collusion to influence the 2016 presidential election.
Keeping things under wraps has been a sensitive issue in the case.
Last month, Mr. Durham accidentally released some of the emails he meant to file under seal. He mistakenly entered into evidence emails from Fusion GPS co-founders Glenn Simpson and Peter Frisch pushing the Alfa Bank claims. Mr. Durham marked the filing “Leave to File Under Seal Exhibit A.” Fusion GPS was hired by the Clinton campaign to compile opposition research on Mr. Trump.
He asked Judge Cooper to keep the filing under seal “due to personally identifiable information” contained in the emails. But the emails were included in an exhibit included in the court document and were unredacted.
By the next morning, Mr. Durham corrected his error and the emails were again sealed.
Some of the classified material in Mr. Durham’s hands could shed significant light on the Russian collusion investigation that dogged Mr. Trump throughout his time in the White House.
“I expect there to be a lot more indictments to be forthcoming from John Durham besides the ones that have trickled out so far. And that’s based upon documents, some of which — many of which are not yet declassified,” former Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe during an interview with conservative activist Charlie Kirk. ”The more and more the public finds out about the things that I’ve seen that remain classified, they’ll be more and more appalled by those efforts in 2016.”