Special counsel John Durham has handed down another round of subpoenas — including one targeting a law firm tied to Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign — in his investigation into the origins of the FBI probe into claims former President Donald Trump’s campaign colluded with Russian officials, according to a new report.
CNN reported Thursday that some of the subpoenas, which were issued earlier this month, demand documents from powerful Democratic law firm Perkins Coie — which had close ties to Clinton’s presidential bid.
On Sept. 16, a federal grand jury indicted Perkins Coie cybersecurity attorney Michael Sussmann on a single charge of making a false statement to the FBI.
According to the indictment, Sussmann told FBI General Counsel James A. Baker that “he was not acting on behalf of any client” when he informed Baker in September 2016 of purported ties between the Trump Organization and a Russian bank.
However, the indictment claims, Sussman had been retained by the Democratic National Committee in April 2016 after its email servers were hacked by groups affiliated with Moscow. He was also advising the Clinton campaign “in connection with cybersecurity issues.”
In addition, Sussmann was representing Rodney Joffe, then a senior vice president at Virginia-based tech company Neustar, who claimed that he had been “tentatively offered the top [cybersecurity] job by the Democrats when it looked like they’d win [in 2016].
“I definitely would not take the job under Trump,” Joffe added in an email quoted in the indictment.
Joffe, who is not named in the indictment but referred to as “Tech Executive-1,” according to the CNN report, allegedly passed Sussmann data in the summer of 2016 that suggested servers at the Trump Organization were communicating with servers at Alfa-Bank, a Moscow-based financial institution.
The indictment alleges that Sussmann, Joffe and Marc Elias — then a partner at Perkins Coie and the Clinton campaign’s general counsel — “coordinated and communicated” about the Alfa-Bank claims “during telephone calls and meetings,” which were billed to the Clinton campaign.
Sussmann also allegedly pitched the allegations to media outlets, including the New York Times, in face-to-face reporter meetings and phone calls which were also billed to the Clinton campaign.
The FBI investigated the purported link between the Trump Organization and Alfa-Bank and found insufficient evidence to support it. The indictment notes that the server in question “was not owned or operated by the Trump Organization, but, rather, had been administered by a mass marketing email company that sent advertisements for Trump’s hotels and hundreds of other clients.”
In fact, the indictment states, Joffe acknowledged in August of 2016 that the purported server link was a “red herring,” though he continued to assist Sussmann and others in drawing up a “white paper” summing up the allegations — which the attorney gave to the FBI weeks later.
Steven Tyrrell, Joffe’s attorney, told CNN in a statement that the Sussmann indictment was “full of cherry-picked portions of emails and selective facts that gratuitously present an incomplete and misleading picture of his actions and role in the events in question.”
Tyrrell added that Joffe “stands behind the rigorous research and analysis that was conducted, culminating in the report he felt was his patriotic duty to share with the FBI.”
The Sussmann indictment is just the second criminal case brought by Durham, who began his inquiry in May 2019. In the first case, FBI lawyer Kevin Clinesmith admitted to altering an email related to the surveillance of Trump campaign adviser Carter Page to obscure the nature of Page’s ties to the CIA. He was sentenced to probation.