According to Fox News, a federal judge has refused to dismiss charges against a former lawyer for Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign.
The network cited a court filing by U.S. District Judge Christopher Cooper as saying that Michael Sussmann will go on trial next month as planned.
Sussman said to have lied about working for the Clinton campaign
Sussman stands accused by Special Counsel John Durham of making false statements to a federal agent in September of 2016.
The allegation stems from communications he had with then-FBI General Counsel James Baker concerning a potential link between the Trump Organization and Russia’s Alfa Bank.
“Specifically, Sussmann allegedly told Baker that he was not attending the meeting on behalf of any client when, in fact, he had assembled and was conveying the information on behalf of two specific clients: (1) a technology-industry executive named Rodney Joffe and (2) the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign,” Cooper stated.
“The FBI opened an investigation based on the information Sussmann provided, but ultimately determined that there was insufficient evidence to support the existence of a communication channel between the Trump campaign and the Russian bank,” Cooper continued, noting, “Sussmann has pled not guilty to the charge and denies lying to the FBI.”
Judge shoots down dismissal motion
When explaining his decision to turn down Sussmann’s motion dismissal, Cooper pointed to the standard for materiality laid out in the U.S. code.
Cooper stressed that the relevant question is “whether the statement has ‘a natural tendency to influence, or is capable of influencing, either a discrete decision or any other function of the [government] agency to which it was addressed.’”
Sussmann contends that his statement “could not have possibly influenced” the FBI’s decision “whether to initiate an investigation into the Trump campaign’s asserted communications with the Russian bank.”
However, Cooper said that this “largely ignores the second part of the test: whether the statement could influence ‘any other function’ of the agency.”
“As the Special Counsel argues, it is at least possible that statements made to law enforcement before an investigation could materially influence the later trajectory of the investigation,” the judge concluded.
Sussmann’s trial, which is set to begin on May 16, is just one facet of an investigation that Durham began three years ago into the origins of the Trump-Russia collusion probe.