Tale of two trials: How Sussmann is receiving every consideration denied to Flynn

  

Category:  Op/Ed

Via:  vic-eldred  •  one month ago  •  42 comments

By:   Jonathan Turley (The Hill)

Tale of two trials: How Sussmann is receiving every consideration denied to Flynn
The treatment given to Sussmann is in stark contrast to how Trump associates were treated in this same court.

S E E D E D   C O N T E N T


The criminal trial of Clinton campaign lawyer Michael Sussmann began this week with a telling warning from prosecutors to the D.C. jury: "Whatever your political views might be, they cannot be brought to your decisions." The opening statement by Deborah Brittain Shaw reflected the curious profile of the Sussmann case. Prosecutors ordinarily have a massive advantage with juries despite the presumption of innocence. When pleas are counted, federal prosecutors can report as high as 95 percent conviction rates. However, with Sussmann, prosecutors clearly have concerns over whether they, rather than the defendant, will get a fair trial.

Sussman's trial for allegedly lying to the FBI is being heard in the same District of Columbia federal courthouse where former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn and others faced the very same charge brought by another special counsel.

The cases, however, could not be more different.

Whereas Flynn's prosecution was a no-holds-barred affair, Sussmann's prosecution has been undermined by a series of unfavorable rulings by the court. Special prosecutor John Durham still may be able to eke out a conviction, but the difference in the treatment of Trump and Clinton associates is striking.

Sussmann is charged under 18 U.S.C. 1001 with lying to the FBI during a meeting with then-FBI general counsel James Baker when he came forward with what he claimed was evidence of possible covert communications between the Trump Organization and Alfa, a Russian bank. Sussmann allegedly concealed that he was representing the Clinton campaign, which he billed for his efforts.

Shaw told the jury that the FBI "should not be used as a political tool for anyone — not Republicans. Not Democrats. Not anyone." She then added that the jurors themselves should not use this trial for their own political judgments.

Looking at the jury box, one can understand Shaw's unease. During jury selection, one juror admitted he was a Clinton donor and could only promise to "strive for impartiality as best I can." Prosecutors objected to his being seated, but Judge Christopher Cooper overruled them.

In another exchange, a former bartender and donor to far-left Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) was told by a Sussmann defense lawyer that neither Clinton nor Trump were on trial and then asked if she could be impartial. She responded, "Yes, knowing that" — which might suggest she would not be impartial if the campaigns were part of the trial.

Other jurors include a woman who said she thought she was a Clinton donor but could not remember; a juror whose husband worked for the Clinton 2008 campaign; and a juror who believes the legal system is racist and police departments should be defunded.

To be sure, D.C. voters chose Clinton over Trump in 2016 by a breathtaking margin: 90.9 percent to 4.1 percent. While liberal and Democratic jurors still can be fair and impartial, Judge Cooper has seated a couple jurors who seemed to struggle with the concept of impartiality.

The most notable aspect of the trial is what will be missing: context. Durham contends that Sussmann was no rogue lawyer. After the Mueller investigation, Durham's team revealed information about how people affiliated with the Clinton campaign allegedly funded, developed and spread the false collusion claim.

On July 28, 2016, then-CIA Director John Brennan briefed President Obama on Hillary Clinton's alleged plan to tie Donald Trump to Russia as "a means of distracting the public from her use of a private email server." Obama reportedly was told how Clinton allegedly approved "a proposal from one of her foreign policy advisers to vilify Donald Trump by stirring up a scandal claiming interference by the Russian security service." That was three days before the FBI's collusion investigation was initiated.

This appears to have been an all-Washington effort assisted by key figures associated with a liberal think tank, Democratic members of Congress and allies in the media. However, it was the role of lawyers like Sussmann that attracted Durham's interest.

Durham contends that, in addition to allegedly lying to Baker during their meeting, Sussmann sent a text message to Baker the night before the meeting, reading: "Jim — it's Michael Sussmann. I have something time-sensitive (and sensitive) I need to discuss. Do you have availability for a short meeting tomorrow? I'm coming on my own — not on behalf of a client or company — want to help the Bureau. Thanks."

Notably, the campaign's law firm was accused by some journalists of hiding the campaign's role in financing the infamous Steele dossier, which provided the basis for the collusion story. (The Federal Election Commission recently fined the campaign for using the firm to hide those payments.) The Durham team argued that Sussmann's alleged lying to the FBI was not just some passing omission but a knowing pattern of deceit. That is why one of the first witnesses expected to be called by the prosecution was Marc Elias, Sussmann's former law partner and the Clinton campaign's general counsel. Elias is not charged with any crime, but at least one reporter has claimed Elias denied the campaign's connection to the Steele dossier.

Judge Cooper has stressed that this trial cannot be about the Clinton campaign per se, but the specific lie that was told. He specifically barred Durham from arguing that there was a "joint venture" in deception with the Clinton campaign. The judge sharply limited the evidence that Durham can present which, in the words of Politico, "spares the Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee … potential embarrassment."

Without the broader context, the prosecution could sound like a play without a plot — just characters and insular acts. The first witnesses included FBI agents who told the jury that the claims passed along by Sussmann "didn't make sense" and that the collusion theory was rejected within days of looking at the underlying data. However, Cooper warned that he will keep a tight rein on prosecutors delving into how the underlying data was produced or managed through the campaign.

That is not the only blow delivered to the prosecution by the court. The judge refused prosecution access to some evidence and, while allowing access to some emails between the campaign and an opposition-research firm, he barred their introduction at trial due to the late request from the prosecutors.

The treatment given to Sussmann is in stark contrast to how Trump associates were treated in this same court. In the Flynn trial, Judge Cooper's colleague, Judge Emmet Sullivan, conducted a series of bizarre hearings, including one in which he used the courtroom flag as a prop to accuse Flynn of being an "unregistered agent of a foreign country while serving as the national security adviser" and to suggest that Flynn could be charged with treason — crimes not brought against him. Sullivan then declared: "I cannot assure you that if you proceed today, you will not receive a sentence of incarceration. I am not hiding my disgust and my disdain."

Likewise, another judicial colleague, Judge Amy Berman Jackson, refused to grant Trump associate Roger Stone a new trial despite disturbing reports of juror bias.

While the judge in Flynn's case was eager to remove obstacles from the prosecution's path, the judge in Sussmann's case seems to have created a virtual obstacle course for Durham. Durham may be able to jump the legal hurdles, but he will do so without much of his evidence. To paraphrase Charles Dickens in "A Tale of Two Cities," for a prosecutor D.C. can be the best of venues or it can be the worst of venues.



Jonathan Turley is the Shapiro Professor of Public Interest Law at George Washington University. Follow him on Twitter @JonathanTurley.


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Vic Eldred
Professor Principal
1  seeder  Vic Eldred    one month ago

The nation where the elite rule and the middle class tolerates.

 
 
 
JBB
Professor Principal
1.1  JBB  replied to  Vic Eldred @1    one month ago

Don't you mean, where truth and justice will prevail over corrupt politically motivated prosecutions of honest men and women being unfairly persecuted?

 
 
 
Greg Jones
Professor Guide
1.1.1  Greg Jones  replied to  JBB @1.1    one month ago

You mean like Trump and his associates were?

 
 
 
JBB
Professor Principal
1.1.2  JBB  replied to  Greg Jones @1.1.1    one month ago

Has Trump been prosecuted yet? Or, Hillary?

 
 
 
Tessylo
Professor Principal
1.2  Tessylo  replied to  Vic Eldred @1    one month ago

How many articles are you going to post about this?

 
 
 
Ronin2
Professor Quiet
1.2.1  Ronin2  replied to  Tessylo @1.2    one month ago

How many times are you going to troll them?

 
 
 
Tessylo
Professor Principal
1.2.2  Tessylo  replied to  Ronin2 @1.2.1    one month ago

"How many times are you going to troll them?"

 
 
 
devangelical
Professor Principal
1.3  devangelical  replied to  Vic Eldred @1    one month ago

disgraced traitor flynn is a pardoned criminal and nothing will change that.

 
 
 
Dismayed Patriot
Professor Participates
1.3.1  Dismayed Patriot  replied to  devangelical @1.3    one month ago
disgraced traitor flynn is a pardoned criminal and nothing will change that.

It really is hilarious that they're comparing these two cases. On one hand, you have a lawyer who may have failed to report who he was associated with when giving information to the FBI. On the other hand you have the former National Security Advisor lie about his conversations with a Russian ambassador which included discussions about dismissing the recently placed US sanctions on Russia for meddling in the 2016 election. Flynn lied to conceal the nature of his conversation because he knew it was technically illegal even though no one had been prosecuted for a violation of the Logan act for decades.

" The Logan Act is a United States federal law that criminalizes negotiation by unauthorized American citizens with foreign governments having a dispute with the United States. The intent behind the Act is to prevent unauthorized negotiations from undermining the government's position."

Logan Act - Wikipedia

Flynn was not authorized to negotiate with Russia, he had no power in the government at that time, Trump had not yet been inaugurated. Flynn lied to investigators and plead guilty twice. He was then pardoned by the criminal President he was lying for. You don't get more corrupt than that and no amount of "Oh, the FBI trapped him in the lie so it shouldn't count!" bullshit.

Yet here we are with conservatives trying to equate an attorneys lack of disclosure of connection to the Clinton campaign with a lying sack of shit who plead guilty to crimes multiple times and was in fact undermining the governments position by asking for Russia not to do anything in response to the sanctions because as soon as Trump was inaugurated they'd lift the sanctions. If anyone believes that wasn't a direct appeal and offer to Russia in return for their help in the 2016 election, or at least an attempt to scratch Putin's back, then I've got a piece of beach front property in the Maldives to sell you.

 
 
 
Texan1211
Professor Principal
1.3.2  Texan1211  replied to  Dismayed Patriot @1.3.1    one month ago

Amazingly enough, some of us can still tell the difference between failing to report and outright lying.

 
 
 
JohnRussell
Professor Principal
1.3.3  JohnRussell  replied to  Dismayed Patriot @1.3.1    one month ago

Anyone remember who Flynn's lawyer was? 

OIP.vapqcE_tUSg_o0hVGVV2zgHaE8?pid=ImgDet&rs=1

 
 
 
JBB
Professor Principal
2  JBB    one month ago

The details about the origins and legal predicates for the CIA and FBI investigations into Trump's Russian dealings are not going to be explained any differently than other longterm espionage secrets.

The fact remains that beginning by 2014 and continuing right up to election day in 2016 Trump was in secret negotiations with clandestine agents of Vlad Putin's Russian State Intelligence Services to build Trump Tower Moscow. He even famously offered Putin a luxury penthouse as a bribe. This is public knowledge without the CIA or FBI either confirming or denying all of the confidential detail.

Blaming Hillary for CIA and FBI investigations into Trump's Russian connections that were operative from 2014 through the election in 2016 is stupid...

Hillary retired from public service in January 2013!

 
 
 
Texan1211
Professor Principal
2.1  Texan1211  replied to  JBB @2    one month ago
This is public knowledge without the CIA or FBI either confirming or denying all of the confidential detail.

No, that is leftist fantasy attempting to be relevant and true.

Where are those links again?

 
 
 
JBB
Professor Principal
2.1.1  JBB  replied to  Texan1211 @2.1    one month ago

original

 
 
 
Sean Treacy
Professor Expert
2.1.2  Sean Treacy  replied to  JBB @2.1.1    one month ago

Lol... Resorting  to memes that have nothing to do with your lie about FBI surveillance.   No surprise.

I get your need to deflect from Durham's investigation.  Can you be less obvious about it?   Something a little more thought out than blatantly transparent misinformation and random memes?

 
 
 
Texan1211
Professor Principal
2.1.3  Texan1211  replied to  JBB @2.1.1    one month ago

Posting your little cartoons isn't proof.

But you know that already, as I have told you that more than once.

 
 
 
Just Jim NC TttH
Masters Principal
2.1.4  Just Jim NC TttH  replied to  Texan1211 @2.1.3    one month ago

No it's deflection pure and simple.............................

 
 
 
Ronin2
Professor Quiet
2.1.5  Ronin2  replied to  JBB @2.1.1    one month ago

[ deleted ]

Putin was looking to divide Americans; and Democrats were better patsies than he ever could have hoped for.

Russia was working all sides during the 2016 primaries and presidential elections.

Russian interference didn't end with Trump's election victory.

Shortly after the November vote, the Russians helped organize several pro-Trump rallies at the same time they organized anti-Trump protests, calling on people to object to the election results.

On November 12, the Russians helped coordinate an anti-Trump rally that drew as many as 25,000 people, according to NBC News .

Fox News reported that Michael Moore, the prominent documentary filmmaker who strongly opposes Trump, attended that rally.

About a week later, the Russians organized a protest called "Charlotte Against Trump" in North Carolina.

These rallies represented just a fraction of the dozens of other rallies that took place in cities across the US after Trump's victory.

Oh, and just a reminder that not one damn vote was changed due to Russian interference; as per the left's messiah Obama. 

You can't except the Democrats ran a self conceited, moronic, candidate that ignored campaigning in fly over country. Called anyone that didn't agree with her "deplorables". Worst of all she was hated worse than Trump! 

She lost fair and square no matter how much crying the left wants to do over it. 

Midterms are coming; the left deserve everything they will bring.

 
 
 
Just Jim NC TttH
Masters Principal
2.2  Just Jim NC TttH  replied to  JBB @2    one month ago
investigations into Trump's Russian connections that were operative from 2014 through the election in 2016 is stupid...

And claiming that ad nauseum is obviously right up there in credibility with the Steele Dossier. Just stop

 
 
 
Texan1211
Professor Principal
2.2.1  Texan1211  replied to  Just Jim NC TttH @2.2    one month ago

Have you EVER seen any links to prove that ridiculous claim?

I sure haven't!

 
 
 
Jeremy Retired in NC
PhD Guide
2.3  Jeremy Retired in NC  replied to  JBB @2    one month ago
The fact remains that beginning by 2014 and continuing right up to election day in 2016 Trump was in secret negotiations with clandestine agents of Vlad Putin's Russian State Intelligence Services to build Trump Tower Moscow.

Odd.  There were no charges filed for that.  I wonder why.  Oh that's right.  No evidence.

On another note, many of your comrades on the left claim there were no investigations that early.  Did you all get your talking points mixed up?

Hillary retired from public service in January 2013!

If she retired then why was she running for President in 2016?  

 
 
 
JBB
Professor Principal
2.3.1  JBB  replied to  Jeremy Retired in NC @2.3    one month ago

Hillary Clinton retired as Obama's Secretary of State in January of 2013 and has never held any public office since. This has been explained to you repeatedly yet you still try to deny the facts.

How could Hillary Clinton have caused the CIA and the FBI and MI6 and Interpol and every other spy agency in the world to be investigating Trump's Russian dealings from 2014 through 2016 when she was no longer in government?

BTW, January of 2013 was nearly ten years ago!

 
 
 
Jeremy Retired in NC
PhD Guide
2.3.2  Jeremy Retired in NC  replied to  JBB @2.3.1    one month ago
Hillary Clinton retired as Obama's Secretary of State in January of 2013 and has never held any public office since.

And yet she ran for President in 2016.  That's not retired.

How could Hillary Clinton have caused the CIA and the FBI and MI6 and Interpol and every other spy agency in the world to be investigating Trump's Russian dealings from 2014 through 2016 when she was no longer in government?

If you haven't noticed, nobody is buying your BS on this.  Without some kind of link it's just the unfounded blathering we've all seen from the left.  And you all can't even keep that line of BS straight.  

4.2.10  

 
 
 
JBB
Professor Principal
2.3.3  JBB  replied to  Jeremy Retired in NC @2.3.2    one month ago

Now you really are making a fool of yourself.

 
 
 
Jeremy Retired in NC
PhD Guide
2.3.4  Jeremy Retired in NC  replied to  JBB @2.3.3    one month ago

So, since you CAN'T provide the links or disprove anything I've said, you go to tactic is that?  

 
 
 
JBB
Professor Principal
2.3.5  JBB  replied to  Jeremy Retired in NC @2.3.4    one month ago

Hillary Clinton retired from "public" service in January of 2013 and has not held "public" office since. Do you care to equivocate? Because every single time I have made this simple point I said it the same. "Public Office"

 
 
 
Jeremy Retired in NC
PhD Guide
2.3.6  Jeremy Retired in NC  replied to  JBB @2.3.5    one month ago

So you want me and everybody else to forget she ran for office in 2016?  Again, that doesn't sound like retired to me.

 
 
 
afrayedknot
Freshman Quiet
2.3.7  afrayedknot  replied to  Jeremy Retired in NC @2.3.6    one month ago

“…she ran for office in 2016?”

Quick…off the top of your head, tell me about everyone…anyone, who ran for office eight years ago and was not elected. 

 
 
 
1stwarrior
Professor Guide
2.3.8  1stwarrior  replied to  Jeremy Retired in NC @2.3.6    one month ago

She retired when she found out she wasn't invited to Helsinki.

 
 
 
Texan1211
Professor Principal
2.3.9  Texan1211  replied to  1stwarrior @2.3.8    one month ago
She retired when she found out she wasn't invited to Helsinki.

jrSmiley_86_smiley_image.gif

 
 
 
Ender
Professor Principal
3  Ender    one month ago

The judge is throwing things out because Durham is throwing all of his 'findings' from his investigation into one case about one man lying to the FBI.

 
 
 
JBB
Professor Principal
3.1  JBB  replied to  Ender @3    one month ago

I've never seen it articulated how even if Sussman lied to the FBI about something in the Summer of 2016 it would change the fact that yes, the CIA and FBI were already investigating Trump in the lead up to the 2016 election. But, beginning in 2014...

 
 
 
1stwarrior
Professor Guide
3.1.1  1stwarrior  replied to  JBB @3.1    one month ago

Keep up with your lie - you know - the one you've been asked dozens of time for verification/proof of the so-called "investigation" of Trump by the FBI/CIA.

So far, from what I've seen, you haven't impressed anyone - 'cept maybe yourself - with your constant disclaimer and total/complete lack of proof.

You ain't got it - it didn't happen - time to move on.

 
 
 
Texan1211
Professor Principal
3.1.2  Texan1211  replied to  1stwarrior @3.1.1    one month ago
You ain't got it - it didn't happen - time to move on.

Watch out for incoming memes now!

 
 
 
Thomas
Sophomore Guide
4  Thomas    one month ago

It was the best of trials. It was the worst of trials.....

Really, Vic, don't you think it is time to consider changing your avatar? Seems like Durham has struck out at finding any concrete wrongdoings to prosecute. 

 
 
 
Ender
Professor Principal
4.1  Ender  replied to  Thomas @4    one month ago

I keep wondering how long he plans on continuing his investigation. Five years?

 
 
 
Tessylo
Professor Principal
4.1.1  Tessylo  replied to  Ender @4.1    one month ago

Aren't our taxes paying for this slacker?

 
 
 
Ender
Professor Principal
4.1.2  Ender  replied to  Tessylo @4.1.1    one month ago

Yep. I may be wrong but I think it is going to be the longest running special investigation in our governments history.

 
 
 
Ronin2
Professor Quiet
5  Ronin2    one month ago
Looking at the jury box, one can understand Shaw's unease. During jury selection, one juror admitted he was a Clinton donor and could only promise to "strive for impartiality as best I can." Prosecutors objected to his being seated, but Judge Christopher Cooper overruled them.

In another exchange, a former bartender and donor to far-left Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) was told by a Sussmann defense lawyer that neither Clinton nor Trump were on trial and then asked if she could be impartial. She responded, "Yes, knowing that" — which might suggest she would not be impartial if the campaigns were part of the trial.

Other jurors include a woman who said she thought she was a Clinton donor but could not remember; a juror whose husband worked for the Clinton 2008 campaign; and a juror who believes the legal system is racist and police departments should be defunded.

To be sure, D.C. voters chose Clinton over Trump in 2016 by a breathtaking margin: 90.9 percent to 4.1 percent. While liberal and Democratic jurors still can be fair and impartial, Judge Cooper has seated a couple jurors who seemed to struggle with the concept of impartiality.

Grounds for a mistrial right there. Judge should have recused herself if she couldn't be impartial.

 
 
 
Sean Treacy
Professor Expert
5.1  Sean Treacy  replied to  Ronin2 @5    one month ago
udge should have recused herself if she couldn't be impartial.

It's simply impossible to get a fair trial in DC involving politics. That's what Sussman is banking on.  He obviously lied. 

 
 
 
JBB
Professor Principal
5.2  JBB  replied to  Ronin2 @5    one month ago

If there was ever any proof Hillary ever did anything illegal you can be damn sure Trump would have prosecuted her for it while he was still in power and before the statutes of limitations had run out...

He didn't because he couldn't because she did not!

 
 
 
Ronin2
Professor Quiet
5.2.1  Ronin2  replied to  JBB @5.2    one month ago

Because leftists everywhere say so.

Or are they all butt hurt because they have failed so many damn times to convict Trump of anything?

 
 

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