- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 5, 2022

A federal judge has agreed to review scores of withheld documents from Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign to see if they should be protected under attorney-client privilege, delivering a win for special counsel John Durham.

U.S. District Judge Christopher Cooper, an Obama appointee, said Wednesday he would review the records “in camera,” meaning it will be done privately without the public or press watching.

While it is unknown how Judge Cooper will rule on the privilege issue, it is a victory for Mr. Durham, who overcame a slew of legal filings by Clinton campaign lawyers seeking to prevent the court from reviewing the documents.

The records include communications between the Clinton campaign and its primary law firm, Perkins Coie, and its contact with Fusion GPS, the research group that compiled the so-called Steele dossier.

The dossier is a collection of unverified and salacious allegations about former President Donald Trump and Russia compiled by British ex-spy Christopher Steele.

Mr. Durham is seeking access to the documents to use in the trial of Michael Sussmann, a former Perkins Coie lawyer who worked for the Clinton campaign. Prosecutors have charged Mr. Sussmann with lying to the FBI when he offered now-debunked allegations of covert communications between the Trump Organization and Russia’s Alfa Bank.

Mr. Sussmann allegedly told a top FBI lawyer that he was not representing a client when he presented the claims, but he later billed the Clinton campaign for the meeting.

The Clinton campaign has argued that the 38 documents are protected by attorney-client privilege and should be kept out of Mr. Durham’s hands.

Mr. Sussmann’s trial starts May 16, giving Judge Cooper a short window to review the documents and issue an opinion on whether a jury can access the documents. Prosecutors want to present the Clinton campaign records to a jury in the trial.  

In sworn statements, top Clinton officials John Podesta, Robby Mook and Marc Elias maintain that the work Fusion GPS did for the campaign should be considered legal work and protected under attorney-client privilege.

Mr. Durham says those records are necessary to prove that the Fusion GPS, Perkins Coie and the Clinton campaign were part of a “joint venture” to tarnish Mr. Trump by promoting a false narrative tying him to Russia.

During a hearing last month, prosecutors argued there is a “strong intersection” between the allegations Mr. Steele was peddling and the evidence Mr. Sussmann brought to the FBI.

Mr. Durham last year indicted Russian analyst Igor Danchenko, a key source for the Steele dossier. He is charged with lying to the FBI by allegedly misrepresenting how he gathered the information for the dossier.

Prosecutors say Mr. Danchenko got some of his information from longtime Clinton ally Charles H. Dolan Jr. 

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

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