The accusations of former President Donald Trump having a relationship with Russia that was provided by a Hillary Clinton campaign lawyer was "not technically possible," special counsel John Durham wrote in a court filing posted Friday.
Less than two months before the 2016 presidential election, Clinton lawyer Michael Sussmann presented "purported data and 'white papers' that allegedly demonstrated a covert communications channel" between the Trump Organization and the Kremlin-tied Alfa Bank to then-FBI General Counsel James Baker. In February 2017, Sussman reportedly furnished an "updated set of allegations" about Trump working with Russia to the CIA.
Durham outlined Sussmann's involvement with the discredited anti-Trump dossier authored by ex-British Intelligence agent Christopher Steele. Sussmann allegedly met with Steele in the summer of 2016 at the law offices of Perkins Coie, where he informed Steele about the Alfa Bank allegations.
Durham noted that "the dossier's author was hired" by Fusion GPS to "dig up dirt on Trump for an unnamed U.S. client."
The Democratic National Committee and the Clinton campaign reportedly funded the anti-Trump dossier through Perkins Coie.
"The fact that FBI headquarters received on the same date both sets of information involving the same political campaign (Clinton campaign), the same law firm [Perkins Coie] and the same investigative firm [Fusion GPS] makes Steele’s involvement in these matters relevant," Durham wrote.
Sussmann is accused of lying to the FBI because he told "the general counsel that he was not providing the allegations to the FBI on behalf of any client," according to the indictment. Sussmann allegedly presented the damning accusations against Trump on behalf of the Hillary Clinton campaign.
Durham claimed that Sussmann "represented and worked for the Clinton campaign in connection with its broader opposition research efforts" and "took steps to integrate" the Russian bank allegations "into those opposition research efforts" by Fusion GPS.
Fox News reported, "Durham argued that the evidence is 'highly probative' because it establishes that Sussmann 'represented and worked for the Clinton campaign with its broader opposition research efforts.'"
Sussman has pleaded not guilty and has sought for the case to be dismissed, but a judge denied the request. Sussmann is scheduled to go to trial on May 16.
Durham wrote in Friday's court filing, "While the FBI did not reach an ultimate conclusion regarding the data's accuracy or whether it might have been in whole or in part genuine, spoofed, altered, or fabricated, [the CIA] concluded in early 2017 that the Russian Bank 1 data and Russian Phone Provider 1 data was not 'technically plausible,' did not 'withstand technical scrutiny,' 'contained gaps,' 'conflicted with [itself]' and was 'user-created and not machine/tool generated.'"
However, Durham added, "The Special Counsel’s Office has not reached a definitive conclusion in this regard."
Durham also noted that "separate and apart from whether the data was actually unreliable or provided a motive" for Sussmann to lie.
"Evidence concerning the steps the FBI and Agency-2 took to investigate these matters is critical to establishing materiality because it will enable the jury to evaluate those steps, which, in turn, will inform their conclusions about whether the defendant’s alleged false statements were material and could tend to influence or impair government functions," Durham explained.
Durham wrote, "At a minimum, however, the Government does expect to adduce evidence at trial reflecting (i) the fact that the FBI and Agency-2 concluded that the Russian Bank-1 allegations were untrue and unsupported and (ii) the primary bases for these conclusions, including the particular investigative and analytical steps taken by these agencies."