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Durham & Michael Sussman perkins coie trial today, will be live televised

Durham & Michael Sussman perkins coie trial today, will be live televised
Tuesday in Washington, Michael Sussman was walking outside of federal court.
As the trial in the Special Counsel's case starts, a lawyer for cybersecurity has different points of view.

Michael Sussmann, a well-known lawyer with ties to the Democratic Party, is accused of lying to the FBI in a case that has wider political implications.

Tuesday was the first day of Michael Sussmann's trial. He is a cybersecurity lawyer with ties to the Democratic Party. A Trump-era special counsel has accused him of lying to the F.B.I. in 2016 when he gave the bureau a tip about possible ties between Trump and Russia.

Deborah Shaw, a prosecutor who worked for John H. Durham, the special counsel during the Trump administration, told a federal jury that at the time, Mr. Sussman was also working for Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign. But he told the FBI that he was not bringing the tip on behalf of any client because he wanted to hide his ties to Mrs. Clinton's campaign.

Ms. Shaw said that no matter how much you like or dislike former President Donald J. Trump, the FBI needs to know the truth and should never be used as a political pawn.

But Michael Bosworth, a lawyer for the defense, told the jury that Mr. Sussmann did not lie to the F.B.I. when he told them about his suspicions. Mr. Bosworth said that no one on the Clinton campaign told Mr. Sussman to tell the FBI about the situation.

When he talked to a reporter at The New York Times about the suspicions, Mr. Bosworth did say that Mr. Sussmann was working for the Clinton campaign. Mr. Bosworth said that the move caused the bureau to try to hold off on any news stories while they looked into it.

"The meeting with the FBI is the exact opposite of what the campaign would have wanted," Mr. Bosworth said. "They wanted a big story that hurts Trump and helps them. He was there to help out the FBI."

On the first day of the trial, which is expected to last about two weeks, it was interesting to hear the different stories. Marc Elias, who was Mr. Sussmann's law partner and the general counsel for the Clinton campaign, and James Baker, who was the F.B.I.'s general counsel at the time, could be called as witnesses.

In 2019, the Trump administration gave the job of looking for wrongdoing in the Russia investigation to John H. Durham, who is in the middle.
In 2019, the Trump administration gave the job of looking for wrongdoing in the Russia investigation to John H. Durham, who is in the middle.

The case centers on a meeting Mr. Sussmann had with Mr. Baker in September 2016. At that meeting, Mr. Sussmann told Mr. Baker about some strange internet data and an analysis by cybersecurity researchers who said it might be a sign of a secret communication channel between servers for the Trump Organization and Alfa Bank, a bank with ties to the Kremlin. The F.B.I. looked into the situation and found that the worries were not true.

Even though the charge of making a false statement against Mr. Sussmann is not a big one, the case has gotten a lot of attention. It is the first theory that Mr. Durham has come up with, and the special counsel has used court documents to suggest that people who worked for the Clinton campaign tried to frame Mr. Trump for working with Russia.

For months, it's been clear that the trial will depend in part on how the judge decides what it means to give the FBI information "on behalf" of a client. But the different opening statements brought to light another point of disagreement: how Mr. Sussmann sees the status of a possible New York Times article.

Ms. Shaw said that Mr. Sussmann and others brought the information to the F.B.I. "to create a sense of urgency" when Eric Lichtblau, a Times reporter with whom he had shared the allegations against Alfa Bank, did not quickly write a story about them.

But Mr. Bosworth said that Mr. Sussmann called the F.B.I. because he thought The Times was about to publish the article. He emphasized that Mr. Sussmann had been a federal prosecutor and had worked with the F.B.I. for years. He wanted to let the agency know ahead of time so that it wouldn't be "caught off guard."

Mr. Lichtblau can testify, even though he no longer works for The Times. In the meantime, there are still some questions about the possible article he was writing. Mr. Baker has told Congress that the F.B.I. asked The Times to "slow down" on publishing it. But news reports say that editors were not ready to run that article anyway.

Rodney Joffe, who was already one of Mr. Sussmann's clients and an expert in domain name systems, gave him the data and analysis. The analysis was made by a group of data scientists who worked with him and specialized in looking for signs of cyberthreats in DNS data.

Two F.B.I. agents testified after the opening statements. The first one gave the jury technical details about DNS data, which is a type of internet log that led to the suspicions.

The second agent, F.B.I. cybercrime expert Scott Hellman, who was part of a two-person team that did a quick initial assessment of the materials Mr. Sussmann gave to Mr. Baker, said in court that he was skeptical of the way they did their work and the conclusions they came to.

Mr. Hellman said, among other things, that he didn't understand why someone would use a server with Trump's name on it as a secret channel. He also said that he was upset that Mr. Baker didn't tell him where the information came from.

The prosecution and defense seemed to have different ideas about how important it was that Russia meddled in the 2016 election, which was a big part of what the trial was about.

In her opening statement, Ms. Shaw told the jury that Mr. Sussman had been working for the Democratic National Committee when it was hacked in the spring of 2016, but she didn't mention that it was Russia that did it.

Mr. Bosworth, on the other hand, told the jury that the events began "at a time when there were a lot of questions about Donald Trump's ties to Russia."

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