The case brought by Special Counsel John Durham charges that Sussmann lied by claiming he did not bring the information to the FBI on behalf of any client, when he allegedly did so on behalf of two clients: the Clinton campaign and a tech executive, Rodney Joffe.
The trial marks the first courtroom test of the investigative work done by Durham, who was appointed by Trump administration Attorney General William P. Barr to probe whether the federal agents who investigated the 2016 Trump campaign committed wrongdoing.
A conviction of Sussmann would be heralded by Trump and his supporters as validation of their claims the FBI conducted a witch hunt investigation of the Republican standard-bearer before and after the 2016 election. An acquittal would probably fuel calls from the left for the Justice Department to end Durham’s assignment.
The jury, which began deliberating about 1 p.m. Friday, is tasked with answering a fairly simple legal and factual question — whether Sussmann lied about his client and whether that lie was relevant to the FBI investigation. During two weeks of testimony, however, prosecutors have argued the case is really about a broader scheme by Clinton loyalists to use the FBI and news reporters to launch a damaging, last-minute revelation against Trump that would tip the election to Clinton. The FBI investigated the Alfa Bank allegations and decided they were unfounded.
“You can see what the plan was,” Assistant Special Counsel Andrew DeFilippis told jurors in D.C. federal court. “It was to create an October surprise by giving information both to the media and to the FBI to get the media to write that there was an FBI investigation.”
“Under the law, no one has a license to lie to the FBI,” DeFilippis said. “Under the law, no one is entitled to make a false statement to weaponize a law enforcement agency in support of a political agenda — not Republicans, not Democrats.”
Despite the trial’s frequent references to Clinton, Trump and other political figures, the prosecutor insisted that “this case is not about politics, it’s not about conspiracy, it’s about the truth.” Sussmann lied, DeFilippis said, because if he’d told the FBI that he was acting on behalf of Clinton, the FBI was less likely to consider his evidence or open an investigation.
Sussmann’s lawyer, Sean Berkowitz, said the prosecution has tried to turn a brief 30-minute meeting more than five years ago into a “giant…