Justice has spoken. Former Clinton campaign attorney Michael Sussmann has been tried on the charge of making a false statement to the FBI during a chapter of the concocted Trump-Russia collusion saga. “Not guilty,” concluded a jury of his peers. “I told the truth to the FBI,” said the defendant afterward, “and the jury clearly recognized this in their unanimous verdict today.” For Americans blessed with a common grasp of reason and language, though, the verdict justice has pronounced does not fit its meaning.
Mr. Sussmann’s legal jeopardy materialized when he brought bogus anti-Trump scuttlebutt to the FBI, scrounged up by the Clinton campaign, that candidate Donald Trump had a back-channel connection to Russia through Alfa Bank. In requesting a meeting with FBI General Counsel James Baker, he texted, “I’m coming on my own — not on behalf of a client or company.” As a Democratic operative pushing Clinton campaign propaganda, it was apparently false — making his conviction for lying a slam-dunk.
The crucial text was uncovered after Mr. Sussmann was charged, though, thanks to Mr. Baker’s foot-dragging response to investigators. Consequently, D.C. District Court Judge Christopher Cooper ruled the legal lodestone was extraneous, forcing Special Counsel John Durham’s prosecutors to fall back on a less unambiguous set of proofs. Damning, too, was the judge’s bewildering decree allowing Clinton partisans to populate a purportedly impartial jury, and presto — a Sussmann acquittal and Durham defeat.
Gripped with anxiety during the two-week trial, official Washington logs the win, sadly. Just as Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s earlier, two-year probe of supposed Trump-Russia collusion produced more smoke than fire, Mr. Durham’s deeper digging has sadly fizzled thus far.
The special counsel has, however, succeeded in uncovering the smoldering peril that adversaries risk when matching their fortunes against Mrs. Clinton’s. It was former Clinton campaign manager, Robby Mook, who testified it was the first lady herself who signed off on the disinformation operation tying Mr. Trump to the Russian bank. Americans should not forget her treachery if tempted in the future to declare, “I’m with her.”
Law books by the shelf-full are stuffed with technicalities, and more are added year by year. Yet sometimes, they fail to obscure simple facts. From a D.C. court proceeding, Americans learned that Mr. Sussmann texted the FBI an unvarnished untruth that should have been his undoing. But a legal loophole — and a dodgy jury — has erased his culpability, further dimming the likelihood that Mrs. Clinton and her associates will atone for their deceit.
The Sussmann verdict is a reminder to Americans of just how the law can be folded, spindled and mutilated to achieve an otherwise unlikely outcome. And in no other place does that happen like it does in the nearly impregnable Democratic fortress that is Washington.
At least on occasion, the law, as Mr. Bumble declared in Charles Dickens’ “Oliver Twist,” “is a idiot a ass!”