In the latest indication that Special Counsel John Durham may be honing in on Hillary Clinton’s guilt in the Russia hoax that occupied much of former President Donald Trump’s term in office, trial subpoenas have just been issued for members of her 2016 campaign and the Democratic National Committee (DNC), according to the Washington Examiner.
The move comes as Durham continues to pursue a “joint venture” theory in his prosecution of Clinton-campaign affiliated lawyer Michael Sussmann on a charge of lying to the FBI.
Litigation battle intensifies
Durham’s subpoenas come as the DNC, the Clinton campaign, and opposition research firm Fusion GPS wage war against the special counsel’s efforts to compel the production of hundreds of documents, which he says are not protected by attorney-client privilege as has been claimed, according to the New York Post.
On the contrary, Durham has argued, the claims of privilege asserted by the aforementioned entities lack “any connection to actual or expected litigation or the provision of legal advice,” and therefore must be provided for in camera review.
In support of his argument, Durham pointed out that of 1,455 documents that Fusion GPS withheld under claims of attorney-client privilege or work product safeguards, only 18 email messages or attachments even involve a lawyer.
Fusion GPS, according to Durham, “was not primarily providing or supporting expertise relating to legal advice; instead, it appears that the investigative firm’s primary, if not sole, function was to generate opposition research materials that the firm then shared widely.”
Subpoena fight begins
The Examiner noted that attorneys for Sussmann said they became aware of Durham’s trial subpoenas on Tuesday and that it was not long before they took aim at the special counsel’s claimed justification for their issuance.
Sussmann’s lawyers slammed Durham’s move, saying, “The Special Counsel this week took the astonishing and legally inappropriate step of subpoenaing witnesses for the express purpose of having them testify to the invocation of the attorney-client privilege in front of the jury.”
The Thursday filing from the defense team continued, “The Special Counsel continues to overreach: he seeks to admit evidence that the law squarely forbids, he seeks to prove unduly prejudicial allegations he has not charged, and he seeks to prove conduct that is utterly irrelevant to the one discrete crime he has charged.”
Durham fires back
For his part, Durham offered stern counterpoints to the concerns raised by Sussmann’s counsel, writing on Saturday, “The goal of the joint venture could not have been more clear: It was to gather and disseminate derogatory non-public information regarding the internet activities of a political candidate and his associates,” a reference to claims the defendant ultimately took to the FBI regarding Trump’s supposed links to a Russian bank.
“And that venture was far from collateral to the charged crime,” Durham contended, proceeding to articulate the links between Sussman, the Russian bank allegations, the Clinton campaign, and the statements made to the FBI.
The outcome of the latest legal wrangling over subpoenas and document production remains to be seen, but it certainly appears that Durham has his sights set on much bigger fish than Michael Sussmann and that Clinton and Co. may have a real reason to worry.