The prosecution rested its case against Michael Sussmann today after showing the jury billing records and receipts that it said proved Sussmann billed the Clinton campaign for the FBI meeting.
The prosecution’s final witness was Kori Arsenault, a paralegal with Special Counsel John Durham’s office. Arsenault worked on much of the government’s exhibits and helped to explain the records to the jury.
The prosecution on Wednesday morning produced the record from Perkins Coie that they say proves the law firm billed “Hillary for America” for the meeting Sussmann had with Baker at FBI headquarters on Sept. 19, 2016.
On the bill, also dated Sept. 19, 2016, the Clinton campaign is listed as the client, the time is listed as 3.3 hours, and the memo states: “work and communications regarding confidential project.” Other testimony revealed Sussmann charged approximately $800 per hour.
But Durham’s attorneys denied that he had billed the campaign for the FBI meeting.
Prosecutors alleged in their indictment that Sussmann “billed his meeting with the FBI… to the Clinton Campaign.” The jury learned Wednesday that Sussmann did bill Clinton that day, but only for “work and communications regarding confidential project.”
“There is no reference to the FBI in that entry, is there?” defense attorney Michael Bosworth asked Durham paralegal Kori Arsenault, who was on the witness stand. “There is not,” she said.
Bosworth highlighted expense reports showing that Sussmann didn’t bill the Clinton campaign for his taxis to and from the FBI building, but instead billed his law firm at the time, Perkins Coie.
Prosecutors also pointed out that Sussmann gave two different billing amounts for Sep. 19, 2016, the day of the FBI meeting. The later total was about an hour less than the former one.
On redirect, prosecution shows emails showing that on 9/20 Sussmann said he spend 4.5 hours on work on written materials/coms re confidential project the day before, but in a 11/6 email, after election, Sussmann said it'd been 3.3. hours on conf. proj – about an hour less. /23
— Charlie Savage (@charlie_savage) May 25, 2022
The prosecution also produced a receipt for flash drives like the ones Sussmann gave to James A. Baker at the FBI.
Durham’s team also produced a receipt from a Staples near Perkins Coie in Washington, D.C., from Sept. 13, 2016. On the receipt was a two pack of flash drives.
The prosecution alleged the receipt was included in an expense report from Sussmann, and the billing code on the report connects the expense to the Clinton campaign as the client.
Finally, the prosecution closed their case by reading what Sussmann himself said previously about his meeting with the FBI.
DeFilippis reading Qs&As from Sussmann testimony, climaxing with this portion I've highlighted. With that, the government rests. /27 pic.twitter.com/xtcXhIEvUu
— Charlie Savage (@charlie_savage) May 25, 2022
So you have Sussmann stating the meeting with the FBI was done on behalf of his client. You have billing records which appear to show he billed flash drives and possibly the meeting itself to the Clinton campaign. And you have texts and contemporaneous notes saying he claimed to be operating on his own. It seems like a pretty open and shut case. Yesterday Andrew McCarthy argued that Sussmann’s defense doesn’t make much sense.
He claims that, although he may technically have been representing the Clinton campaign during that time frame, he was not really representing the campaign in connection with the FBI meeting.
He insists that campaign officials would have been opposed to his bringing the Trump-Russia information to the bureau because they wanted it to be promoted by the media — a strategy Hillary Clinton personally approved. Going to the FBI, on this rationalization, would have been counterproductive because the bureau would lean on the press to delay publishing until agents had time to investigate…
This is a laughable defense. Enticing the FBI into investigating the Trump-Russia allegations would have made the story more attractive to the media and more explosive for the “October surprise” objective of the Clinton campaign — an election-eve story that the FBI suspected Trump of being a Putin plant.
But put that aside. Under professional ethics standards, a lawyer has a duty of fealty to his client. Thus, as the American Bar Association’s rules put it, “the lawyer’s own interests should not be permitted to have an adverse effect on representation of a client.”
If Sussmann truly believed that his visit to the FBI, purportedly motivated by his own selfless patriotism, was against the Clinton campaign’s interests, then his ethical obligation was to disclose his intention to his client and obtain a waiver allowing him to go ahead with the meeting.
I guess we’ll have to wait and see if the jury buys the idea that despite all the evidence he was doing this on behalf of the Clinton campaign this one meeting with the FBI about the thing he was doing for the Clinton campaign was a solo venture he pursued completely on his own and contrary to the best interests of his client. I find it hard to believe anyone could possibly believe that story but then I’m old enough to remember the OJ verdict.