An FBI agent told jurors Tuesday that Clinton campaign attorney Michael Sussmann‘s purported evidence tying former President Trump to Russia’s Alfa Bank strained credibility because there was no effort to hide what Mr. Sussmann claimed was secret back-channel communications.
Special Agent Scott Hellman was a prosecution witness in the case of Mr. Sussmann, who is on trial for lying to the FBI.
Prosecutors say he concealed his ties to the Clinton campaign when he presented an FBI lawyer with now-debunked evidence claiming covert internet communication between the Trump Organization and Alfa Bank.
Mr. Hellman, who oversees a team of cyber investigators, looked into the allegations, which the FBI later concluded were meritless. Investigators determined that the so-called covert communications were merely marketing emails.
In his testimony, Mr. Hellman told the court that evidence compiled by Mr. Sussmann and tech executive Rodney Joffe, didn’t add up. He said the domain name used by the Trump Organization had Mr. Trump’s name on it, suggesting there was no effort to hide the communications.
Mr. Hellman said it would be “abnormal” for a presidential candidate to hide his communications by using a domain with their own name. He also testified that Russia was a sophisticated player that could obscure its internet activities and yet there was no effort to hide the contacts.
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“Based on the conclusions [Mr. Sussmann and Mr. Joffe] drew they were not fair nor were they objective in the conclusions they came to,” he said. “The assumptions you have to make was so far-reaching, it didn’t make any sense.”
Later, Mr. Hellman said that his supervisor was also skeptical of the data. He told jurors there wasn’t enough data to make some of the conclusions reached by Mr. Sussmann and Mr. Joffe.
“We didn’t agree with the narrative that came along with it,” he said.
Defense attorneys for Mr. Sussmann are expected to cross-examine Mr. Hellman in the afternoon.
Correction: An earlier version of this article misreported the day testimony was offered.
• Jeff Mordock can be reached at email@example.com.
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