- The Washington Times - Monday, May 9, 2022

Several high-profile Democratic political operatives and officials are set to take the witness stand next week in the trial of former Hillary Clinton campaign attorney Michael Sussmann, attorneys for both sides revealed in court Monday.

Mr. Sussmann is denying government charges that he lied to FBI officials when he tried to supply them with information related to possible links between the campaign of Republican rival Donald Trump and Russian banks, links that were subsequently discredited.

Robby Mook, who managed Mrs. Clinton’s 2016 campaign, Clinton campaign attorney Marc Elias and FBI counterintelligence leader Bill Priestap and former top FBI lawyer James Baker are among those called as government witnesses, said prosecutor Andrew DeFilippis.

The prosecution, spearheaded by special counsel John Durham‘s probe of the FBI’s Trump-Russia collusion investigation, also will put on the stand Laura Seago, a top tech official at political research firm Fusion GPS; Deborah Fine, a Clinton campaign lawyer; and a CIA official identified only as “Kevin B.” 

A slew of FBI officials are also expected to testify for the government, which alleges that Mr. Sussmann lied to FBI officials about his Clinton campaign ties when peddling the false story about Mr. Trump and Russia.

Defense attorneys unveiled their own high-powered witness list. It includes Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz, former acting Assistant Attorney General Mary McCord and Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times reporter Eric Lichtblau.

A different slate of FBI officials is lined up to testify on behalf of the defense.

Mr. Durham, appointed in the last year of the Trump administration, has charged Mr. Sussmann — whose firm Perkins Coie represented the Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee — with lying to the FBI in September 2016 about his ties to the Clinton campaign when he provided Mr. Baker with evidence of a purported link between Mr. Trump and Russia’s Alfa Bank.

The disclosure of the witness list comes after U.S. District Judge Christopher Cooper, an appointee of former President Barack Obama, handed Mr. Durham a loss, blocking him from introducing evidence from the Clinton campaign. Mr. Durham has argued the emails and other documents will show that Mr. Sussmann acted as part of a “joint venture” with pro-Clinton operatives, tech researchers and others to smear Mr. Trump by linking him to Russia.

Judge Cooper said efforts to tie Mr. Sussmann to a vast anti-Trump scheme would “essentially amount to a second trial” for conspiracy, a crime that has not been alleged.

“While the special counsel has proffered some evidence of a collective effort to disseminate the purported link between Trump and Alfa Bank to the press and others, the contours of this venture and its participants are not entirely obvious,” Judge Cooper wrote in a 24-page opinion issued over the weekend.

Judge Cooper said that Mr. Sussmann is charged with the specific crime of lying to the FBI and introducing a conspiracy claim would require an “extensive presentation of evidence about that conspiracy” that “is likely to confuse the jury and distract from the issues at hand.”

As court watchers begin to focus on the witness list, several notable names won’t appear in court.

Absent from the witness list is British ex-spy Christopher Steele, who produced the unverified, salacious “dossier” that contained now-debunked claims about Mr. Trump’s ties to Russia.

Sean M. Berkowitz, an attorney for Mr. Sussmann, also dangled the possibility of calling former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, who was present at a March 2017 meeting to discuss the bureau’s Alfa Bank investigation, which had been folded into the larger Trump-Russia investigation after Mr. Trump took office.

Defense counsel has alleged Mr. McCabe stated at the meeting that Mr. Sussmann had made clear he offered the Alfa Bank evidence on behalf of his client. Mr. Berkowitz suggested Monday that others testifying about the meeting would provide similar evidence.

Correction: The last name of Andrew DeFilippis was misspelled in a previous version of this story.

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

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