As the trial of former Clinton campaign lawyer Michael Sussmann continued this week in Washington, another former Clinton lawyer, Marc Elias testified for over three hours. The two were former partners at the high-powered Democratic law firm Perkins Coie.
Sussman is being prosecuted by federal Special Counsel John Durham for allegedly lying to the FBI in regard to claims that the 2016 Donald Trump campaign was involved with Russian banks. Durham’s team argues that Sussmann lied about the bogus Russian material when he claimed he was acting as a private citizen and not as a lawyer on behalf of a client in bringing it to the FBI.
Durham alleges that Sussmann was in fact working for the Hillary Clinton campaign and technology executive Rodney Joffe when he provided the material to the FBI. One piece of evidence used by Durham in that regard is the billing record showing Sussmann billed the Clinton campaign for the work.
During his testimony, Elias confirmed that he hired Fusion GPS to conduct opposition research into Donald Trump and his campaign on behalf of the Clinton campaign. He also said that he shared the “fruits” of Fusion GPS’s work with officials of the Clinton campaign. Elias also confirmed that Fusion GPS was working as well directly for the Democratic National Convention in regard to its support of Clinton.
He also revealed that several of the people running the Clinton campaign were aware of Fusion GPS’s opposition research against Trump, including chairman John Podesta, manager Robby Mook, communications director Jennifer Palmieri, and policy director Jake Sullivan. Sullivan is now acting as Joe Biden’s National Security Advisor.
When questioned about Sussmann’s billing records, Elias said he could not remember what Sussmann specifically billed the Clinton campaign for. He did confirm, however, that he was conferring at various times with Sussmann about his work on the fake Russian bank allegations.
Elias tried to distance himself from Sussmann’s actions by saying he did not instruct Sussmann to take the Russian material to the FBI. He did admit that Perkins Coie hired Fusion GPS for the purpose of digging up dirt to use against Trump, which was later shared with the top leaders of the Clinton campaign.
Durham is expected to argue as the trial progresses that the Elias testimony showing Sussmann was directly involved in working for the Clinton campaign in obtaining opposition research should act alongside the evidence of his billing records to support the claim that he lied to the FBI about his reasons for submitting the false Trump materials.