Special Counsel John Durham has exposed some of the details of Hillary Clinton’s central role in fabricating the Russian collusion hoax, but he won’t necessarily get to tell the story in court.
The judge in the criminal case of a former Clinton campaign lawyer has set boundaries on what evidence Durham can use to prove the existence of a Clinton-led “joint venture” to undermine Donald Trump, the Washington Examiner reported.
Judge limits evidence
Durham has accused Michael Sussmann of lying to the FBI at a September 2016 meeting where Sussmann, hiding the fact that he was working for Clinton, pushed along bogus data tying Trump to a Russian bank.
The so-called Alfa Bank connection was aggressively pushed by Clinton’s campaign on the eve of the 2016 election, including to media outlets through the opposition research group Fusion GPS — the same outfit that compiled the notorious Christopher Steele dossier on Clinton’s behalf.
Obama appointee Christopher Cooper said he was skeptical Saturday of some aspects of Durham’s “joint venture” theory and the relevance of some of the evidence Durham wants admitted.
The judge said that he would not permit Durham to litigate the accuracy of the Clinton campaign’s opposition research data tying Trump to Alfa Bank unless the defense challenges the information.
“Unless the defense opens the door for admission by vouching for the data, the government will not be permitted to put on extensive evidence about its accuracy.”
Trial starts next week
But Durham can use hundreds of Fusion e-mails laying out the group’s aggressive effort to push the Alfa Bank story to the anti-Trump media.
A sticking point for Cooper was that Durham has not charged Sussmann with conspiracy, so dwelling on evidence of an uncharged plot may “confuse the jury.” Cooper had previously ruled that Durham may not use Clinton’s tweets promoting the Alfa Bank smear.
But the judge acknowledged Saturday that Durham has provided some evidence of a conspiracy to spread dirt about Trump and that Durham may “connect the dots” for the jury to some extent.
Cooper said that the “contours of this venture and its participants are not entirely obvious” and that Sussmann’s role in it is “murky,” but Durham may go into how “Sussmann came to possess the data, what he did with it, and why.”
Durham says the “joint venture” explains why Sussmann lied to the FBI, but Sussmann has complained that Durham is leading a political prosecution and that Clinton is not relevant to the case. The trial begins on May 16.