The decision not to have Sussmann testify in his own defense signals a degree of confidence on the part of the defense team in his case after nearly two weeks of witnesses, evidence and arguments in the U.S. District Court in Washington.
If Sussmann were to speak, he would have exposed himself to questioning by the prosecution about a series of potential weaknesses in the defense case. They include a text message he sent to FBI General Counsel James Baker the night before Sussmann gave Baker data and reports on an alleged link between a Trump-linked email server and a bank. Muscovite linked to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
In the text message, which was discovered after Sussmann was indicted last year, he told Baker he was “coming alone – not on behalf of a client or company”.
Both sides in the case agreed Thursday that the only issue for the jury would be whether Sussmann lied during the Sept. 19, 2016, meeting in Baker’s office at FBI headquarters.
The decision to keep Sussmann out of the witness box also prevents prosecutors from grilling him on details of expense reports the Durham team submitted on Wednesday in an effort to tie Sussman’s FBI meeting to the height of the crisis. 2016 presidential race to the Clinton campaign. These reports showed that Sussmann billed the Clinton campaign for the purchase of USB drives similar to those he gave to Baker, although the defense noted that Sussmann billed taxi rides related to that FBI headquarters meeting on a generic account from the law firm where he was a partner at the time, Perkins Coie.
By missing his chance to testify, Sussmann is also avoiding what could have been awkward exchanges in the courtroom where the cybersecurity lawyer and former federal prosecutor might have appeared evasive as he or others raised solicitor-client privilege concerns regarding matters relating to information he obtained from the Clinton. campaign, the Democratic National Committee and other clients, as well as his interactions with other attorneys advising these entities.
Sussmann’s trial is the first courtroom test for the investigation by Durham’s special counsel, who previously secured a guilty plea from an FBI lawyer who admitted to altering an email relating to a monitoring request. A judge sentenced the attorney, Kevin Clinesmith, to probation.
A broader misrepresentation case brought by Durham against a Russian-born researcher accused of providing false information to the FBI in the Trump-Russia investigation, Igor Danchenko, is pending in federal court in Alexandria, Russia. Virginia.
Danchenko, who pleaded not guilty, is to be tried there in October.