'Remarkably thin': Legal experts slam John Durham case against Clinton campaign lawyer
Although John Durham has managed to get an indictment for Michael Sussmann as part of the investigation into the origin of the Federal Bureau of Investigation's (FBI) inquiry into the Trump campaign's ties with Russia, legal experts are still not impressed.
In fact, according to Business Insider, legal experts view the case Durham has built against Sussmann as "unusually — even remarkably — thin." Speaking to the publication, Randall Eliason, a former federal prosecutor and current law professor at George Washington University Law School, weighed in with his take on the case.
"Proving this case is going to be remarkably difficult," Eliason said of Durham's case. While Trump has adamantly insisted that the investigation would uncover a "deep state" conspiracy, that has yet to come to fruition.
Insider highlights two problems with Durham's case. The investigating prosecutor is said to only have one witness, The indictment is reportedly linked to a September 2016 conversation Sussmann had with former FBI general counsel, James Baker. At that time, Sussmann is said to have "shared digital information suggesting a possible back channel of communication between the Trump Organization and the Kremlin-linked Alfa Bank."
However, the FBI's investigation determined there was "'insufficient evidence' to support allegations of a secret communications channel with the Russian bank."
In addition to only having one witness, that witness' recall is vague. In 2018, during a hearing with the House Judiciary Committee, Baker claimed he could not remember some aspects of his meeting with Sussmann. He also claimed he did not pressure Sussmann for more information about the evidence he provided or its origin.
"I mean, so I was uncomfortable with being in the position of having too much factual information conveyed to me because I'm not an agent," Baker testified. "And so I wanted to get this — get the information into the hands of the agents as quickly as possible and let them deal with it. If they wanted to go interview Sussmann and ask him all those kind of questions, fine with me."
Barb McQuade, a former US attorney who is now an educator at the University of Michigan Law School, weighed in with her reservations about the case.
"It's pretty rare that you would bring a false statements case with only one witness," said McQuade. "Before you bring a case like this, you would want it to be corroborated by things other than one witness, so it could be maybe the two witnesses, maybe it's recorded. It seems like the corroboration they're using is this hearsay statement."
She added, "The reason you don't allow that is, we've all played the telephone game — you get sketchy on the details and then repeat it to someone else."
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