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WASHINGTON, D.C. — Defense attorneys representing Michael Sussmann in the first trial stemming from Special Counsel John Durham’s investigation into the origins of the Trump-Russia probe signaled they were contemplating moving for a mistrial — a request the federal judge presiding over the case said Wednesday he was “not inclined” to grant.
Sussmann’s attorney, Sean Berkowitz on Wednesday afternoon said he planned to argue for a mistrial on Thursday, due to a back-and-forth that came from the hours-long questioning and testimony of former Clinton campaign general counsel Marc Elias.
SUSSMANN-DURHAM TRIAL: MARC ELIAS SAYS HE BRIEFED CLINTON CAMPAIGN OFFICIALS ON FUSION GPS OPPO AGAINST TRUMP
At one point during cross-examination by the defense, Elias was asked whether Sussmann went to the FBI in September 2016 with data alleging a covert communications channel between Donald Trump and Russia’s Alfa Bank on behalf of the Hillary Clinton campaign.
“I think you’d have to ask Mr. Sussmann,” Elias said.
Later, the prosecution brought Sussmann’s response up — a move the defense said violates Sussmann’s rights.
U.S. District Judge Christopher Cooper on Wednesday, though, seemed unimpressed.
“You should be prepared to deal with witnesses [tomorrow],” Cooper told Berkowitz. “I am not inclined to grant a mistrial.”
After hours of Elias testimony Wednesday, the government called former FBI General Counsel James Baker to the stand. Baker was questioned for about 45 minutes.
SUSSMANN-DURHAM TRIAL: PROSECUTION SAYS CLINTON LAWYER USED FBI TO CREATE AN ‘OCTOBER SURPRISE’ AGAINST TRUMP
Baker is expected to be questioned by the government for the better part of the morning on Thursday, as well as cross-examination from the defense.
Baker falls at the center of the trial, as Sussmann is charged with making a false statement to the FBI when he told Baker in September 2016 — less than two months before the presidential election — that he was not doing work “for any client” when he requested and attended a meeting with Baker where he presented “purported data and ‘white papers’ that allegedly demonstrated a covert communicates channel” between the Trump Organization and Alfa Bank, which has ties to the Kremlin.
Durham’s team alleges Sussmann was, in fact, doing work for two clients: the Hillary Clinton campaign and a technology executive, Rodney Joffe. Following the meeting with Baker, Sussmann billed the Hillary Clinton campaign for his work.
Sussmann has pleaded not guilty to the charge.
Sussmann’s defense attorneys, prior to the beginning of trial, sought to have the case dismissed. Cooper denied their requests.