Hillary Clinton campaign lawyer Michael Sussmann peddled his false theories about former President Donald Trump to the CIA in the early days of the Trump administration, two former CIA officials testified Friday.
Retired CIA officer Mark Chadason told jurors that he met with Mr. Sussmann for breakfast at a Northern Virginia hotel on Jan. 31, 2017, roughly two weeks after Mr. Trump had been sworn in as president.
Mr. Chadason and another retired CIA officer known only as Kevin P. testified in the trial of Mr. Sussmann, who is charged with one count of lying to the FBI when seeking to spur investigations of Trump-Russia conspiracy theories.
From the witness stand in a federal courtroom in Washington, Mr. Chadason testified that Mr. Sussmann said he was representing “an engineer with a number of patents” and “a Republican” who had some anti-Trump allegations.
He also described Mr. Sussmann as appearing “frustrated,” and threatened to take his claims to The New York Times if the CIA wasn’t interested.
Prosecutors say Mr. Sussmann lied to the FBI in September 2016 when he told bureau lawyer James Baker that he was not representing any client as he turned over documents promoting a false story about Mr. Trump’s link to Russia’s Alfa Bank.
The prosecutors accuse Mr. Sussmann of working on behalf of the Clinton campaign, saying he later billed the campaign for his time at the bureau.
It is the first trial stemming from special counsel John Durham’s probe of the origins of the FBI’s investigation of Trump-Russia collusion to sway the 2016 presidential election.
Defense attorneys say Mr. Sussmann didn’t lie and his connections to the Clinton campaign and the Democratic party were well known to the FBI and Mr. Baker.
After the FBI concluded the allegations were meritless, Mr. Sussmann then turned to the CIA, the officers said.
Kevin P. testified that Mr. Sussmann met with him and another CIA officer, known as Steve M. in February 2017. He said that Mr. Sussmann said the Alfa Bank allegations came from “contacts,” not a client.
Kevin P. told jurors that during the meeting, Mr. Sussmann noted his contacts with the Democratic National Committee, but made it clear they weren’t involved in the allegations.
Mr. Chadason also said that Mr. Sussmann didn’t try to hide his ties to the Clinton campaign and DNC. He later wrote in an email to the CIA that Mr. Sussmann was a “partisan lawyer” and he wasn’t sure what “the real story is here.”
Mr. Chadason said Mr. Sussmann told him that he had spoken with the FBI, but suggested investigators did not “handle the matter well” and lacked the technical expertise to review the allegations.
Still, the CIA officials said they told them information should have been forwarded to the FBI and that would be the best agency to probe his claims.