John Durham Pursuing DNC, Hillary for America, and Fusion GPS Documents in the “Russian Hoax” Investigation

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    Special Counsel for the U.S. Department of Justice John Durham is investigating former Hillary Clinton counsel Michael Sussmann for lying to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) when he claimed to be operating as a private citizen while giving false information that connected then-presidential candidate Donald Trump to the Russian government through Alfa Bank.

    The New York Post noted earlier this week that in court documents submitted last month, Durham claimed that the Democratic National Committee, Hillary for America, and The Fusion GPS research company as well as the powerful Perkins Coie law firm–which is where Sussmann was formerly a member–in court papers filed last month withheld and/or redacted documents and communications that could serve as evidence against the defendant.

    Durham stated that they took that determination “based on an apparent theory that political opposition research and/or public relations work… falls within the legitimate scope of attorney-client privilege and work-product protections.”

    “They have done so despite the fact that almost all of these materials appear to lack any connection to actual or expected litigation or the provision of legal advice,” Durham's group wrote.

    In that motion, Durham claimed that the records he sought are crucial to proving the connection with Sussmann along with others, even if the nature of the documents had to be removed.

    On Wednesday, March 13, a federal judge ruled in favor of Techno_Fog, a legal blogger. Techno_Fog stated that the court will look over all the documents “in camera”–behind closed doors–before deciding if the documents should be handed over to the prosecution and eventually entered as admissible evidence in the trial that begins with a bang later in the month.

    The court will not be able to review 38 documents out of the 1,500 in which defendants and their accomplices have claimed privilege. But other documents could be presented in future trials. The prosecution stated that it is yet to be determined what the judge's ruling will be on the privilege claim after examining the documents relating to Alfa Bank. Thirty of them are internal Fusion emails, while eight are related to the chief of technology, Rodney Joffe, as well as Fusion.

    The judge asked Durham’s prosecutor, Jonathan Algor, if Durham would return for the remaining 1,500 documents in the event that the judge ends up agreeing with the prosecution on the 38 documents. Algor replied, “Not for this trial” but kept the possibility open for a future trial, saying that “Your Honor's decision is important” to the investigation.

    Clinton campaign counsel Robert Trout argued that “the government here has an erroneously cramped view of privilege” and said it was a “false choice” to say that something is opposition research or protected by privilege. Trout claimed that “it is true that Donald Trump was an opposition candidate” but added that Fusion was hired to provide legal counsel to the Clinton campaign. He added, “It may have been research about an opposition candidate, but the real purpose was to get our facts straight.”

    The judge replied that even though some of the work carried out through Fusion GPS may have been legal, the opposition research didn't meet legal requirements, so certain documents would require a review.

    Five Hillary Clinton associates are already anticipated to exercise their Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination in the case, in which prosecutors have accused them of a “conspiracy” to invent the notion that Trump collaborated with Russia and then spread the information in the media and provide it to the police.

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