Jury Acquits Michael Sussmann; Sussmann Lawyer Calls Prosecution “Extraordinary Prosecutorial Overreach”
The Michael Sussmann jury just announced its verdict.
Michael Sussmann was acquitted of lying to the FBI.
The jury deliberated for six hours. This morning, they asked for exhibits that include the taxi receipts showing that Sussmann did not bill the Hillary campaign for the meeting with the FBI. They also asked whether they all had to agree on the elements of the offense, suggesting some people believed Durham had not proven some aspects (such that Sussmann had lied or that he did so intentionally) whereas others believed Durham had not proven other parts (such as that it was material — remember that FBI largely proceeded as if this were a tip from the Hillary campaign).
Durham released a statement:
While we are disappointed in the outcome, we respect the jury’s decision and thank them for their service. I also want to recognize and thank the investigators and the prosecution team for their dedicated efforts in seeking truth and justice in this case.
Sussmann read a statement:
I have a few thoughts to share, now that trial has ended.
First, I told the truth to the FBI, and the jury clearly recognized that with their unanimous verdict today.
I am grateful to the members of the jury for their careful and thoughtful service. Despite being falsely accused, I am relieved that justice ultimately prevailed in this case.
As you can imagine, this has been a difficult year for my family and me. But right now, we are grateful for the love and support of so many during this ordeal, and I’m looking forward to getting back to the work that I love.
Finally, I want to thank my legal team at Latham & Watkins—Sean Berkowitz, Michael Bosworth, Natalie Rao, & Catherine Yao. They are the finest lawyers, and they worked tirelessly on my case.
The statement from his attorney, Sean Berkowitz, is more interesting.
We have always known that Michael Sussmann is innocent and we are grateful that the members of the jury have now come to the same conclusion.
But Michael Sussmann should never have been charged in the first place. This is a case of extraordinary prosecutorial overreach. And we believe that today’s verdict sends an unmistakable message to anyone who cares to listen: politics is no substitute for evidence, and politics has no place in our system of justice.
Update: Here’s what happened with the jury’s two questions from the end of the day on Friday.
The jury is present and deliberating. We received two notes at the very end of the day on Friday, which I will read for the record. Two questions in the same note.
The first question: “To deliver a verdict does the jury need to have consensus on each element (the 5 elements of offense) or just consensus on the verdict?”
And then second, they say they seem to be missing two government exhibits, 306 and 403.
So as to the first question, the Court has printed out a proposed response as follows:
“In order to reach a guilty verdict, each of you must find that the government has proven all five elements of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt. In order to reach a not guilty verdict, each of you must find that the government has not proven one or more of the five elements beyond a reasonable doubt. You need not agree on which element the government has failed to prove.”
I think that directly answers the jury’s questions, unless there are any comments or suggestions.
MR. BERKOWITZ: No comments from us. I think that’s correct, Your Honor.
THE COURT: Okay.
MR. DeFILIPPIS: No, Your Honor.
THE COURT: All right. So we will send that back. Our records do not have Government Exhibits 306 or 403 even being referenced, let alone admitted. Do you folks have a different recollection of that?
MR. DeFILIPPIS: Your Honor, we don’t have a different record. That’s, I think, our record as well.
THE COURT: Okay.
MR. BERKOWITZ: I think one of the exhibits is also a defense exhibit, 436. I don’t know if they have that one, but I’m assuming they have them available, if they’re in evidence.
THE COURT: Okay. We will just let them know that those exhibits are not admitted into evidence.
MR. BERKOWITZ: And, Your Honor, I’m told that Government Exhibit 403 is Defense Exhibit 436, which was admitted into evidence. It was one that likely went in as part of our group admission at the end so they may not be familiar. I would ask that they be told Government Exhibit 403 is also Defense Exhibit 436.
MR. DeFILIPPIS: No objection, Your Honor.
THE COURT: Okay. And how about 306? Any record of that?
MR. BERKOWITZ: We’re trying to find it.
THE COURT: Okay. (Discussion off the record)
THE COURT: Okay. Well, we’ll just leave it at 436 and not comment on the other one.
Update: Corrected table — I’ve lost track of the end of May.
That was quick. Thanks for your coverage.
Now that this trial is over, I just wanted to thank Dr. Wheeler and all the well-informed people who comment here for lowering my blood pressure throughout the Durham “investigation.”
I’m an Irishman who lived in Belfast up until the summer of 2016, so I had a front row seat to Russian interference in the Brexit debate as well as their collusion with the Conservative Party and the Democratic Unionist Party (the largest right wing party in the north of Ireland). In July 2016, I moved to Boston and couldn’t help but notice there was an almost identical Russian campaign being carried out in the 2016 US election, this time in coordination with the Republican Party/American right. I offer that background because it left me quite certain Russia had interfered in the US election —which was again confirmed by the Mueller investigation— making this never ending “investigation of the investigators” seem an obvious corrupt enterprise from day 1.
Despite all the evidence, I’ve watched, in exasperation, not only the to-be-expected bad faith coverage coming from Rupert’s rags, but the supposed “liberal media” continually giving an air of legitimacy to both Durham and his sham investigation, facts-be-damned. Then the new AG came into office with a major goal of removing politics from the justice system, yet he allowed this to continue and what seemed to be a majority of Americans were buying into the narrative that Durham was performing something other than a highly partisan witch-hunt. Taken together, I generally concluded I was being gaslit, although the uniformity of the coverage had at times led me to question whether it was possible that I was the one who “off with the fairies.”
Then I came across a link to this site in an article I read about a year back and since that time, it’s consistently reassured me that I could trust my instincts/common sense and should avoid taking “mainstream” US media at face value (I was already intimately familiar with the work of the Murdoch empire). For that, I thank you all.
Another Irishman here (County Cork). Marcy Wheeler and team are amazing. Hopefully she is loving Ireland now that she resides there. And I hope Ireland has loved her back.
“Then the new AG came into office…, yet he allowed this to continue …”
… and aren’t you glad he did.
This lopsided verdict is the beheading of Durham’s investigation, his credibility, and his future, – unless he can climb onto the wingnut welfare train.
If this sham is indicative of Durham’s abilities, he will probably also lose his other case against the Russian.
Unfortunately, a man (Sussman) lost his job and probably had to spend over six figures on attorneys’ fees, for this beheading to occur. And unfortunately, the bar to successfully sue the government for malicious prosecution and recover attorney’s fees is a very high one–that money is, essentially, gone.
Prior to his indictment last fall, he was a partner at Perkins Coie, and resigned due to the indictment. Whether he can now get his old job back that the legal cloud has been lifted, or wants it (Sussman might justifiably feel that he was thrown under the bus) I don’t know.
I very much doubt he spent one penny, as Perkins Coie had insurance carriers that almost certainly paid every cent. Sussman will be fine. And Perkins Coie did not “throw him under the bus”, they took appropriate steps. Stop with this bullshit.
Thanks for that comment, bmaz. Contributes to overall context and understanding. Daunting, though, b/c it seems that’s the kind of resources it takes to come out even on such a bout.
I honestly have no clue, but why does Perkins pick up the tab for Sussman?
Wouldn’t they argue that Sussman was committing (alleged) crimes on his personal time and not as an employee…obviously their name was dragged into the case and it makes sense to protect their image,but do they owe him picking up his law bill?
Good to see that the overzealous prosecution was not rewarded.
Because he was an attorney there and covered by their malpractice coverage.
bmaz, I rarely comment because I am way out of my league here. However, I have noticed a substantial number of posts from you that in my opinion are unnecessarily harsh and intolerant, particularly when addressing non-lawyers. I am a registered professional engineer. I am reasonably well-read, but the law is obviously not my specialty. I am interested in many of the subjects posted by Dr. Wheeler. I appreciate the commentary by those with specialized knowledge, including yours. I only ask that perhaps you might consider the tone of some of your replies. Thank you for your expertise, and for listening to my complaint.
Oh waaah. You have commented here under two different names, and we do not need your tone policing in the slightest.
Cutting through the crap. Sometimes juries do it with remarkable speed and insight.
Take that soup-strainer mustache and ride off into the sunset in shame.
Great coverage, Marcy!
Sadly, “Bull” Durham still has money and staff – and plenty of peripheral people to intimidate and harass. But no integrity or shame.
“no integrity or shame” would elevate him above Barr and all the other swamp creatures. Let’s see if he adds Eastman as special special investigator, that would be a distinct tell.
Will we beleaguered taxpayers ever know how much money these idiots wasted? Next up DeFlippus announces candidacy for New York AG? News at 10
…..ah, but he no longer has a corrupt AG to okay his silliness.
[Welcome back to emptywheel. Please use a more differentiated username when you comment next as we have several community members named “Doug” or “Douglas. Your previous (11) comments were posted as “Douglas Erhard” in case you’d forgotten your previous username. Thanks. /~Rayne]
You know I have been calling Durham that since about 2008 or so, right?
Credit where credit is due, for sure.
Next up to the plate: Field of Reams?
(extra bovine credit: reems)
Funny how they seem to have managed better than a lot of reporters.
Maybe it has something to do with looking directly at the evidence, instead of just relying on the framework pundits and activists pitch to you and only looking at the evidence they show you.
Although I’m sure a lot of aftermath reporting will repeat rightwing framing that the jury was hampered because this or that evidence was excluded, and skip over all of the evidence that was presented.
“Cutting Through the Crap.” That’s the title of my political blog, which carries my weekly newspaper column. Marcy is one of my heroes. Durham isn’t.
far out, i think i’ve read your blog a few times, i will definitely look for it now!
marcy, rayne, bmaz, and so many others here, thank you for your work and effort to report accurately, and since facts don’t have bias, fairly! the slack-jawed, lick-spittle hate spewers are loud, but they are the 37%ers, but to change things, we, the majority, need to VOTE.
Time ran out on the shot clock. Finally!
“Time ran out on the shot clock. Finally!”
Respectfully, no. Durham flat out lost after unsuccessful attempts to work the refs.
As commented below – airball.
From Charlie Savage’s twitter feed: “Sussmann will make a statement in person soon, we are told. Team Durham will issue a statement but not give a presser, I was told earlier by DOJ.”
Yeah, I can’t imaging they want to take any questions any time soon.
Especially on camera.
I’m glad Sussman walked. And even if he had been convicted, I’m pretty sure that the case would have gotten tossed on appeal, due to repeated and serious Prosecutorial misconduct.
I have to admit I have really understood this case, despite all of your explanations about it. Sussman didn’t go to the FBI saying he was unemployed, just saying that he was not acting at the direction of a client. That’s not a hard distinction to make.
OK, so Durham had his day in Court and lost. It is time for Judge Garland to excuse him from Government Service FOREVER. The DoJ has bigger fish to fry – like Putin ally, Donald J. Trump.
Big Bad John, Not. Too bad he is unworthy to diminish and fade to the West.
Perhaps Durham will diminish and fade into what’s left of the former Eastern Bloc.
Galadriel diminished and faded into the West. The East is filled with Orcs. So eastward it is!
Over/under on the number of coached prosecution witnesses now facing a perjury rap?
I do hope your right.
On the other hand, “Twitter attorney and former FBI general counsel under Obama indicted for perjury” would have moderately high propaganda value for the frothers, especially if they can blame the failure to win a conviction in THIS case on the state’s star witness. You seem to be assuming that Durham has a residual sense of shame and decorum.
Never going to happen.
So Durham missed 100% of the shots he DID take . . . .
Nothing but nyet.
I am very thankful for Marcy and you all, without which I would still be aimlessly at sea.
Off the exculpatory evidence . . .
Over the defense’s objections . . .
Around the court’s orders . . .
Beyond the DOJs procedures . . .
Nothing but nyet indeed.
Well played, мой друг!
Love is the друг you are thinking of.
Oh, that’s excellent even by your standards, punaise.
tee hee, thanks – just staying in my lane here. the shortest ones are usually the best! (all the way down to zero words, some might say…)
A three pointer from the beltway.
Punaise is more like Steph Curry than any player in the Beltway.
Also about as far outside the Beltway as you can be and still be on dry land.
Over the rivers . . .
Over the prairies . . .
Over the Rockies . . .
Nothing but nyet.
That would be Punaise!
yeah, but my patented cross-over dribble is a function of drooling out one side of my mouth vs. the other…
Go Warriors! (sorry about your Suns)
I was truly looking forward to that, and the Suns would have been a bigger problem for the Dubs than the Mavs. Oh well, the Suns failed, maybe next year!
This has me remembering Steve Kerr in his playing days. Dead on from outside the beltway, picture-perfect jumpers.
If I had any faith to restore, this would have done it.
Although it seemed to me this should have been the only reasonable outcome, you just never know what a jury will do. This certainly is an embarrassment for Team Durham, although it seemed that his real goal was to simply stir up the right with his ridiculous conspiracy mongering, and for that, he succeeded spectacularly. But what a waste of govt money to simply try to protect Trump by doing more Clinton bashing. sigh.
Many thanks for the in depth investigation by Dr Wheeler and although some of it was over my head ( non lawyer here), i still learned so much. I would encourage all who can to make a donation ( even a small one like mine can help) so we can continue to benefit from those who are interested in exposing facts to help combat the seemingly never ending conspiracies .
His real goal really was to get a conviction.
He’ll try to salvage what he can, to be sure, and may hand off useful bits here and there, but this isn’t the outcome he wanted.
I would respectfully disagree, given how many things Durham and DeFilippis, et al tried to sneak into the various legal docs and arguments. This wasn’t about getting a conviction as much as providing a steady stream of sound bites for the courtier press / RWNM to froth over. EW, bmaz, EoH, Peterr and the rest of the legal team here made things much clearer by actually reading this stuff to point out what it said, not what it sounded like.
This is similar to the Big Lie still being tossed around by the GQP even though in over 60 cases (IIRC) the campaign had exactly one win on a procedural question. This also included several cases where the court asked point-blank whether voter fraud was being alleged and the campaign lawyers said ‘no’. So, I would expect Durham to show up on Hannity’s, Tucker’s or Pirro’s show to whine about that meanie Judge Cooper and how something needs to be done to streamline trials (of Ds, of course since IOKIYAR always applies) by dispensing with rules of evidence or relevance.
While the acquittal was indeed the just decision (fast and unanimous, too) one wonders what happens when the GQP types forum shop to say, that judge in TX that tried to shut down Obamacare. Are there any real restrictions on venue for cases like this or only gentlemen’s agreements?
And FWIW, Don Siegelman ended up a prisoner for 11 years so it’s not a trivial issue.
The thing is they can get soundbites without losing and they can rile up the base in a million other ways. This isn’t 3D chess by Durham — it’s a loss. At one point Bret Stephens was trying to spin the Ukraine invasion as a 3D chess move by Putin, but that wasn’t one either.
I don’t disagree that there are plenty of other opportunities for legal warfare by the right wing nuts. But losing this case cut off one path for more.
It’s important not to treat this as some great victory, but it’s also worthwhile to avoid treating every setback for the right as some kind of secret victory for them. They lost a skirmish they wanted to win. They’ll move on to other avenues of attack.
Forum shopping happens in Civil cases.
Criminal proceedings are supposed to occur in the jurisdiction of the offense. They almost always do.
In this case the offense was alleged to have taken place in D.C.
This time, DC. Next time I’m sure it can be ‘arranged’ to get a more friendly venue in the 5th District. In the age of the Internet, almost anyplace can become a place where a crime was committed.
What’s next for John Durham, the Grand Inquisitor? Is Rodney Joffe off the hook? Durham still has the Danchenko case (aka Steele dossier) to try to showcase a political conspiracy against trump in 2016 presidential campaign.
Sussmann had good lawyers. Danchenko may not be as fortunate.
That case is shit too.
I’m not surprised, especially after the Sussman fiasco.
Yes. Durham’s cut-and-paste indictment of Danchenko suggests he was hoping to go to trial in October with a head of steam from a Mighty Mighty Sussman conquest. I’ll be curious to see whether this one, now the cherry on top of nothing, shrivels up and disappears.
12:41 PM · May 31, 2022
Hare’s Berkowitz’s statement, via Marcy
12:48 PM · May 31, 2022
NPR has a quote from the Jury Foreperson [also a photo of Durham leaving the courtroom]: https://www.npr.org/2022/05/31/1102150260/special-counsel-durham-fails-first-courtroom-test-in-his-three-year-probe
More from jurors at WaPo:
Jury Foreperson, from Politico:
After the verdict:
Lol, I have been through over a hundred criminal jury trials. Either side the verdict falls on, I have NEVER seen a poll of the jury come back different than their verdict. Never.
How common is jury polling after a verdict? Is it seen as sour grapes or bush league?
No, just perfunctory.
What would happen, I wonder, were a juror to agree to a verdict in the jury room… only to tell the judge that he was strong-armed by his fellow jurors? I’ve never heard of such a thing happening, but its like the banns of marriage: what happens if someone does object to the ongoing nuptials in response to the ceremonial question offered by the officiant?
It would not go well. But I’ve never seen it in decades of doing jury trials and seeing many more. It is just a formality that never changes anything.
So, kinda like counting elector votes in Congress, right?
Maybe Durham was hoping to move for a mistrial, but IIRC the jury doesn’t issue a verdict in a criminal trial without complete agreement (otherwise it’s a hung jury from what I’ve seen). So, it would appear to me to be a fool’s errand to poll a criminal jury.
It always is, you do it only to perfect a record. There is effectively never one that stands up and says “No, I didn’t meant it!”
I have seen jurors in civil cases waffle, or state some qualifications, or air some grievance about the deliberations, that then results in further deliberations. It’s unusual for that person to then hold up the decision further. I had one case were the foreman got so abusive in response during further deliberations (allegedly) that he had to be removed, and deliberations started over with an alternate. No difference in outcome though – jurors just ended up very angry with one another.
Thanks MW for the outstanding coverage of this important trial. Learned some about the Federal Courts, better late then never, and the political hardball behind the Durham investigation/extended fishing trip. Congrats to Sussman and his lawyer!
Is this the end of Durham? He took his shot and he missed. And it was a false indictment. It was totally prosecutorial overreach. I know Garland and Biden can’t ask Durham to resign. But he has to eventually show himself out. It’s over.
What frightens me is that this could be one of the biggest victories for those who support the truth. Trump will likely never be indicted by any AG. The January 6 commission will fizzle out and even run out of time to publish their report. And all the key January 6 participants are already serving their time and are being released. Whatever we did to try to save the republic, we obviously failed. The shit is coming.
No. This was a pissant case when it started, and it is a pissant case as it concludes. It is “not” the biggest of anything.
I’m sure EW is already researching this, but with Durham failing to get his conviction here on Sussmann, who else could he plausibly charge with any real chance of conviction? I would speculate that the target would need to have a significant HRC connection (or Hunter Biden) and would have had limited input to Sussmann’s case.
This is because if Durham went after Baker, for example he would be in fact admitting his ‘pissant’ case was completely fabricated by suborned witnesses. This was a favorite method for Joe McCarthy, BTW to leverage testimony. There is also the question of Durham’s SC ambit, which was to investigate the 2016 Russian connection. It would seem that all SoLs would have expired long ago for actions tied to that scam, so that leaves ‘lying to investigators’ as pretty much the only thing Durham’s crew could charge now. IANAL but that certainly seems like where Durham is.
Never say never. Kristy Parker has a detailed analysis at justsecurity showing how a Trump prosecution could succeed, and arguing that even if a trial ultimately fails to convict Trump, it is definitely in the interests of justice that he be charged. (I’ve broken the link after “org”).
And in the Mar LA Go dining room, a greasy cheeseburger stain is being wiped off the big screen, as the geriatric owner is hustled off to a changing room…
A greasy cheeseburger served, no doubt, on a peach tree dish. I wonder if Bill Gates’ peach tree dish cheeseburgers come with condiments included, or are they extra?
You misspelled cheeseberder.
On very very rare occasions I look to see foxnews dot com’s take on a story. Here are two quotes from today.
“Mueller’s investigation yielded no evidence of criminal conspiracy or coordination between the Trump campaign and Russian officials during the 2016 presidential election.”
“One [FBI] official even testified that the white paper describing the DNS data on the thumb drives was drafted by someone who was “5150.” The official clarified on the stand that meant he believed the individual who came to the conclusion of a Trump-Russia connection ‘was suffering from some mental disability’.”
More about the response on Fox from Lis Power of Media Matters:
12:20 PM · May 31, 2022
Section 5150 is a statute in the California Welfare and Institutions Code that allows for the involuntary detention of up to 72 hours of an individual who is having a mental health crisis. It apparently has made its way into the vernacular as shorthand for people who a threateningly unstable or psychotic. I guess you learn something new every day.
Lol, yes. It is slang for mental everywhere.
… and has been for almost as long as I can remember… and I’m an Old.
Never run across it; I guess I lead a sheltered life. As it was being used by an FBI agent, I was pretty sure it was not some trendy new slang term being tossed around by the cool kids.
My girlfriend in the late seventies was doing an emergency psych rotation for her LCSW at SF General. She had the authority to, and did, use the 5150 statute almost every time she was on call. Growing up and living most of my life in the Bay Area, I had an understanding of what 5150 meant even in high school.
The first Van Halen album to feature Sammy Hagar, released in 1986 (same year as the first Top Gun movie, coincidentally) was called 5150 for this very reason.
“5150” as in “We were crazy to get rid of David Lee Roth, who made his own album with Steve Vai and showed everyone who makes the more interesting music?”
I was on my first active duty deployment when Top Gun came out (on CVN-70). Since a carrier on deployment is infested with airedales, someone arranged to videotape the movie in the theater and fly it out to ship to be shown on site TV. Over and over and over….
I still have a shirt from when the Vinson liked to be called the ‘Starship’ but when she came out to the West Coast the Enterprise (CVN-65) took issue and so the ChuckBoat’s official nickname became the ‘Battlestar’. Later the engineers referred to CVN-70 as the ‘Mobile Chernobyl’ and CVN-65 as ‘Death by Enterprise’ because of how complicated it was to manage her power plant.
bmaz, when I was growing up in Phoenix in the 1960’s, I recall a phrase for that was “24th and Van Buren.” Haven’t noticed it anywhere else.
Not sure if your Phoenix interests extends beyond the Suns but if it does, do you know the reason for that?
Welp that was where the state funny farm (mental institution) was long ago.
In the Bay Area, that would have been either Agnews or Napa.
There is one in Tucson too, TPI. To the best of my recollection, that was it here, and am not sure where the new Phoenix one is. Oh, wait, it is apparently still there! It does not look the same driving by now, so I figured it had moved. Guess not.
’tis Bedlam ’round here, yeah.
Without going into particulars, there was a weird old motel, right across the street, called the Kon Tiki, that I used to park clients that did not need to be found in. Nobody found anybody at the Kon Tiki.
ned to apply the 5150 to Durham
Marcy, Thanks for your outstanding coverage of what I call “The Durham Mess”!
I learn so much, thanks to you, your team and the community you all foster here.
I also really appreciate the extra context from that Update, today.
Thank you MW and all the other learned commenters for the detailed & thoughtful observations on this case. IANAL but you help me think more like one when you take the time to explain the procedural aspects. Glad that the jury decided as they did & that they did so quickly.
I guess we have to celebrate when such obvious political bs gets shot down, but jeez was this ever a disturbing reflection on what the pro-Russian crowd is doing to us. Many thanks for the coverage.
Is there a sense that they may come after Baker? Is he already damaged by this in a significant way?
To be clear, very much wish there was a better answer, just think that is it.
A bit off topic, but if the whole point of Durham’s investigation is to debunk “The Russia Hoax”, the story goes back for decades.
A footnote from Robert I. Friedman, Red Mafiya: How the Russian Mob Has Invaded America
(Published in 2000)
“A copy of Ivankov’s personal phone book, which was obtained by the author, included a working number for the Trump Organization’s Trump Tower Residence, and a Trump Organization office fax machine.”
This trial provides more evidence of “The Russia Hoax” Hoax.
3 years of gathering info that took 3 weeks to present and the jury didn’t even stick around for a free lunch while deliberating.
Pretty wild compared to an assault case I was juror for that took one day to present and the rest of the week for the jury to finally hit consensus at 5pm Friday.
‘the jury didn’t even stick around for a free lunch while deliberating’
According to the Wash. Post, the deliberations lasted five hours and started with lunch and ended after dinner, also free.
Oh I figured if they announced at noon eastern that it was Friday pm and Tuesday am
Thank you for your very intensive coverage, clear vision, and cogent sorting of the relevant from the irrelevant. The right has been poisoning the well on the outcome of this trial for weeks. For example, Jonathan Turley condemned the jury over a week ago; just yesterday, Bill Barr went to Glenn Beck and announced Durham uncovered “sedition”; and, this morning, Byron York announced the jury was biased while they deliberated. And, the headlines that announced that Hillary authorized a “press leak” showed up in several outlets. The clear coverage you provide helps all of us to see through the Trump apologists’ spin and the mass media’s inability to discern important detail. I have read a lot of legal journalism over the years. You are the best legal journalist ever, a true gift to us all.
I second that. It is such a great relief to read evidence-based, knowledgeable analysis and explanation. It is a sad reflection on the state of things that this site is such an extreme outlier. In any case, an oasis in a desert of lying self-interest.
‘After three LONG, SEEMINGLY* years of investigation, all John Durham has obtained for his troubles was an acquittal of the charges against Michael Sussmann.’
I dunno… Durham also managed to turn the name ‘John Durham’ into the punchline for any number of jokes for years to come…
*added for emphasis….
If I were still a drinking man, I would look forward to the drinking game based on frothy right faction’s media coverage. Take a shot every time: Judge Cooper is called a Clinton appointee; the D.C. jury pool is called out as liberal; Judge Cooper’s evidentiary rulings are disparaged; the jurors who donated to the Clinton campaign are mentioned; reference to Judge Cooper not releasing the juror who is on a rowing team with Mr. Sussmann’s daughter.
If you were still a drinking man and you played that game, you’d be suffering from alcohol poisoning by now, if not already pronounced dead from it.
Heck, even Kayleigh crawled out from under her rock to snivel. DJTJ too. I do wonder whether the juror identities will be kept sealed to minimize the doxxing / intimidations that follow when the RWNM gets names they don’t like.
Your comment is a condensed version of this morning’s Newsweek article. The article was basically how many right wing innuendos could you put into one article. And the article had everything on your list.
Newsweek is owned by a righ twing group, it is not the publication it was two or three decades ago.
Yup. In the late 1990’s and early 2000’s, I had a subscription to Newsweek. My wife used to also occasionally pick up US Weekly Magazine. When I found I got more info from US Weekly, I stopped getting Newsweek. I have not read either for almost 2 decades.
Newsweek had two “articles” about the acquittal, except the one that you’re probably referring to was clearly marked “Opinion” – author was Ben Weingarten of the Claremont Institute (John Eastman was affiliated with them as well). It’s a real screamer of headline too:
Deep State Allies Play Judge, Jury, and Perhaps Executioner Against Durham
The other Newsweek article, not marked “Opinion” – author was Katherine Fung, a Canadian journalist on the Newsweek staff. Her previous journalistic experience prior to Newsweek included Good Housekeeping and Marie Claire (!)
Anyway her article was factual enough, although dwelling largely on Trump’s reaction to the verdict. The headline, though less strident than the one above, also reveals its bias:
Michael Sussman acquitted in Win For Hillary Clinton, Trump Doubles Down
It did not have dick shit to do with Hillary Clinton, that is bullshit by Newsweek (who are not what they once were).
The only thing the “old” Newsweek and the “new” Newsweek have in common is that the typeface on the logo remains the same.
The transition started to occur in 2010 when the Washington Post sold it off (they had owned Newsweek since 1961). They are now owned by a guy named Johnathan Davis and IBT Media, a company that has had its share of legal difficulties…
Sadly, that is exactly right. There may still be an occasional decent piece there, but it is rare.
For perspective, Newsweek is the rag that published John Eastman’s drivel about Vice President Harris being disqualified to serve because her parents weren’t born in US. Which reminds me, when is Eastman going to be disbarred and/or indicted for insurrection, treason, perjury, conspiracy or any combination thereof?
Good for Sussman, good for all of us, and thanks to EW &Co. for keeping at this with such tenacity and dedication.
Newsweek does seem to have a direct line to the Claremont Institute (Eastman and the author of the first headline in my post above).
Dunno about Eastman yet, but Peter Navarro was just served with a grand jury subpoena the other day. This not about his refusal to testify in front of the Jan. 6 committee – it is DOJ here. Navarro is circulating a draft of a lawsuit he intends to file to waste time, apparently…
It’s 80-something pages of whining and claiming he’s an expert on something. Link via southpaw:
Lol. No. Heh.
Yes and Navarro is representing himself (pro se) in this…
Also, TV lawyer Glenn Kirschner does not believe this subpoena has anything to do with Contempt of Congress for failing to appear at the Jan. 6 committee…
“TV lawyer Glenn Kirschner”. Completely a fair description. Twitter people go gaga over Kirschner all the time, and I do not get it. He is a hyperbolic click chaser.
Navarro might be going pro se, but he has master’s and doctoral degrees from Harvard, and almost certainly has some shit like Eastman working for him behind the scenes.
Ugh…a PhD who promoted hydroxychloroquine and fought publicly with Fauci.
You think he has a slush fund or deep-pocketed resources behind the scenes? Well, the Mercers did fund Bannon at first.
Wow. I, I, I, I. By rough count from that 88-page screed Navarro refers to himself as “I” more than 120 times. What a fucking cry baby narcissist.
Also interesting: refers to “Pelosi” +60 times, “Thompson” +26 times (so you know who’s really the target); uses the word “phony” 2X in reference to the Steele dossier (once) and the “Russia hoax” (once).
Speaking of “Russia hoax” Navarro uses that phrase 12 times and the word “hoax” by itself an additional 4 times.
I really enjoyed this bit on pages 9-10:
Aw. Poor baby. Could have avoided this by complying with a subpoena but no, he had to fuck around and find out.
I’m having a delicious “fruit of the poisonous tree” salad for dinner tonight! Bon appetit, Mr. Navarro.
He represented himself as a pro-vice hack?
(Did I spell that right?)
The so-called Claremont Institute, btw, has nothing to do with the more well-known Claremont colleges, top liberal arts schools in Southern Cal, which include Claremont College and the top-ranked Pomona College.
This trial coverage has been a long, fascinating ride. I appreciate all the personalities here. I have tried to limit my internet exposure to mostly this site and it had been such a good move. These are a lot of bad actors documented, and the Sussman not guilty verdict was amazing for morale. I’ll be here for more stuff.
Any sign yet of Bannon acolytes tracking the departing jurors so as to expose their identities and help flood the zone?
Eh, let’s not make that suggestion, okay?
Scarecrow Turley is already performing his Tainted Jury Pool Stole the Conviction Fantasy.
“But this is DC where 90% of your jury pool voted for Hillary Clinton” – Mr J Turley 220531
Here is Dorothy Gale, played by Judy Garland, interviewing, not J. Turley, but a more famous Scarecrow who went on to better things.
A jury of his peers in the place where the crime was committed, as noted above about 80 comments or so… Turley is a paid hack. I’m waiting for Lanny Davis.
Cernovich has been on this from the start. He played a central role in the same play in the aftermath of the Stone verdict. So I expect the same here.
So the prosecution didn’t think they needed to admit the one piece of evidence the jury wanted to see.
I think the reference is to Sussman’s billing of the taxi receipts on the day he went to see Baker:
I thought that was obvious, but yes. There appeared to be a problem identifying the correct exhibit for the jury as they asked for the prosecutions exhibit # that they had not entered into evidence, the defense had entered the same exhibit but under a different number. At least that’s how it looked to me.
I’m impressed with the awareness that the jury showed by making that request. Looks a DC jury comes preskilled around document handling and information tracking..
Those two requests were both for documents referred to in the close. The other one was a meeting involving Elias. It looks like that one never went in.
Yes. I went back and checked. Durham never introduced it. What happened is that Sussmann had introduced it during Durham’s summary witness (who was Durham’s paralegal). In that instance, he referred to it under its Defense Exhibit number. When he referred to it in his close, he referred to it under the Govt Exhibit number.
Thanks to Marcy and the crew at Empty Wheel for making this trial about much more than the innuendo and political slurs coming from right wing frothers.
When I saw the news of Sussmann acquittal today, it felt like hope.
Were the spurious claims cooked up by John Durham and Bill Barr shot down without even considering the blatant disregard by the prosecution of the rules of engagement they were supposed to follow?
IANAL so please forgive my choice of words to describe arcane legal proceedings so dense and inscrutable it took someone with a PhD and incredible patience to give us a roadmap through the circuitous filings – This feels like an important victory even though the prosecution’s claims and processes were crap.
(Did former disgraced AG Bill Barr really go out yesterday with some fresh BS to foul up the atmosphere?)
“Did former disgraced AG Bill Barr really go out yesterday with some fresh BS to foul up the atmosphere?”
Bill Barr and the MAGA crew are still trying to protect Alfa Bank’s sophisticated laundromat. They are still counting on getting Russian cash (and non-Russian too) for the next electoral cycle. Danske Bank is no longer. Other options are now, due the invasion of Ukraine, out of SWIFT. This all goes back to Alfa Bank.
In The Contested Afterlife of the Trump-Alfa Bank Story, The New Yorker, by Dexter Filkins:
“The Alfa Bank case has also become an object of interest for federal agents working for John Durham, the prosecutor appointed by Barr. Durham’s agents have summoned some of the same computer scientists to testify before a grand jury, and are asking for the same material that Alfa Bank is seeking. (They’ve asked Jones, the investigator, to testify as well.) Some agents told scientists that they were exploring a potential criminal charge—presumably against Max and Tea Leaves—for giving false information to the government. A number of those called to testify are seeking to quash the subpoenas, and it’s not apparent that anyone has testified so far.
There is no clear evidence that the Justice Department and Alfa Bank are working together, but some people involved in the case noted a striking alignment of purpose. “There’s a heck of a lot of mutual interest,” William Taylor, an attorney for Jones, told me.
More troubling is that the cases could aid the Kremlin. Although Aven has disputed reports that he is close to Putin, he told investigators for the Mueller report that he meets with the Russian President quarterly and receives what the report describes as “implicit directives.” In a court filing, Fusion’s lawyer, Joshua A. Levy, accused Alfa Bank of engaging in a “treacherous game”: using the U.S. court system to uncover covert methods used by American intelligence agencies. “Exposing these sensitive law enforcement methods to our enemies, including but not limited to the Russian government, would harm all of us,” Levy wrote. (Alfa Bank has denied the accusation.)
Danchenko is now at risk. Agents of the Russian state have killed such informants: in 2006, Alexander Litvinenko, a former F.S.B. officer who was investigating links between Putin and organized crime, died in London after ingesting polonium that was slipped into his drink.
About two weeks after Danchenko’s unmasking, he received a subpoena from Alfa Bank. “Is Igor Danchenko worried?” his lawyer, Mark E. Schamel, said. “Yes. He fears for his life.”
Thanks for the great coverage.
Is this a triumph for democracy and the rule of law? Sorta. Mr. Durham has done great harm to the USDOJ. He is also a cog in the machine that is doing great harm to the reputation of our court system as it pursues its agenda of proving that Ms. Clinton, not Mr. Trump, was the cheater, part of the argument that there are not free and fair elections in the US because democrats steal elections.
Which doesn’t mean I want less from emptywheel, it means I want more, more, more.
Marcy, what’s it like when a case you’ve been so close to and worked on so intensively for so long is suddenly over?
I’ll hang up and listen.
I guess you missed EW’s tweet: she’s already onto Danchenko. amazing the amount of work she accomplishes.
She’s on to Cincinnati. [Belichick reference]
I’ll spend several days unpacking things disclosed by the trial and catching up on other things, like the Jan 6 investigation, that I’ve neglected in the last few weeks.
Have I mentioned that my kitchen renovation also started during the trial and I went to two different visits with friends and family during it?
Thanks! I’m glad (and amazed) you’ve been able to see friends and family even as you keep us informed and get your house fixed up. Kitchen renovation—now there’s a trial! Good luck!
So might there be a Irish recipes trash talk in the offing?
Not, as me Irish-heritage mother says, that the Irish have recipes* …
*other than soda bread.
you might want to check this out:
Hey, thanks! Altho’ I notice two of the featured recipes are indeed the soda bread and … Irish Coffee. ;-D
My Irish friends also tell me that lamb is actually mutton, corned beef (that Chicago St. Pat’s staple) is not popular and basically only lunch meat, and the best Irish dinner is Guinness.
All hearsay coming from me, of course, what I heard over pizza.
IIRC, Durham’s original remit was to investigate the FBI and uncover whether politicized agents had manipulated the FBI.
Other than an altered date on an email, Durham has exposed zero bad actors inside the FBI.
I wish Biden would now task Durham with finding out who in the fbi leaked the Weiner laptop to Rudy, and who in fbi was leaking select Kislyak and Flynn transcripts.
Biden won’t task Durham with anything, that is what the Special Counsel has for a superpower. Note that Durham was appointed to investigate the 2016 Russia investigation which appears to have passed all statutes of limitations for charging any crimes tied to 2016’s election. Lying to investigators on this topic are another matter, but it does make me wonder just how many strings Durham can pull if 2016 is more than five years ago.
My quick scan of RW reactions can be summed up as…
…finding Sussman innocent proves he is guilty even more surely than a guilty verdict would have shown.
That is reminiscent of Freudian psycho dynamics. The fact that there is no evidence only shows how deeply the evidence is hidden. “That is just what we would have expected”, announce the wiseacres.
Congratulations for calling it from the outset, Marcy!
Love that the jury foreperson and several jurors have genteelly admonished the prosecution for wasting their time. lolol
Bless you, MW, for keeping the “watching brief” on this travesty. What a perfect illustration of the wisdom of the principle that ethical prosecutors will not try cases unless they are convinced, by objective criteria, that a reasonable jury will find guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. This was a “Hail Mary” pass thrown in the hopes that the jury might be confused into convicting for the benefit of The Orange Abomination. I knew this thanks to your eagle-eyed coverage, Treat yourself to an extra Guinness tonight. Marcy!
Has there not been abuse of our legal system here?
Who’s paying the bill?
We are all paying the bill for Durham’s prosecution. The insurance carrier(s) for Perkins Coie is probably paying the bill for Sussman’s defense.
Pursuant to the Hyde Amendment (Pub.L. 105-119, sec. 617), a defendant who is acquitted at trial may recover fees from the US if it can be shown that the prosecution was “vexatious, frivolous or in bad faith.” This is a very difficult standard to meet. Also, awards under the Hyde Amendment are subject to the limitations and procedures set out in the Equal Access to Justice Act (28 USC Sec. 2412). The EAJA has a $2 million net worth limitation. This limitation is computed on a acquisition cost basis (so appreciation in the value of homes or stocks are not taken into account). Finally, awards of attorneys fees under the EAJA are capped at an hourly rate of $125 that is adjusted for inflation (now it is slightly above $200/hour). Any award would likely only cover a third or less of Sussman’s legal bill.
The short answer is that awards under the Hyde Amendment are extraordinarily rare. While it would be fun to see Durham have to attempt to establish that his prosecution was not vexatious or in bad faith, I doubt that Judge Cooper would rule in Sussman’s favor on this issue. Moreover, a Hyde Amendment claim will be unavailable if Sussman’s net worth is over $2 million.
There is not a chance in hell.
Newbroom has brought up an issue that brings a huge sigh and shutter from me…Trials are hard, exhausting for everyone involved and…expensive. Think of the legal team sitting at counsel table for weeks not to mention lawyer prep time before trial, think of all the paralegal hours making sense of and organizing all these exhibits, think of secretarial support services….and I forget, all the lawyer time for these almost endless motions before trial.
I seriously would like to know what something like this costs…I am fairly well certain that few of us here could afford this kind of defense….does anyone want to make a guess of what something like this would actually cost? Best Wishes, Traveller
Welp, it costs a LOT. Trust me, it is a LOT. But Sussman was not personally paying.
Maybe it’s just me, but I almost get the feeling Durham’s heart wasn’t in it.
But one lawyer who had his heart in it was DeFillippis. To the point that no tactic was too low. I have encountered lawyers like that in court and they are reprehensible.
[Welcome back to emptywheel. Please use a more differentiated username when you comment next as we have several community members named “Jim” or “James” including one of our contributors. Please also pick a username and email address and stick with them; to date you’ve used at least 3 usernames with different email addresses. Thanks. /~Rayne]
DeFillippis has flopped.
Fortunately, the jury gave him a red card and sent him off for simulation.
Thanks for all your hard work and fine coverage, Marcy. This good news is especially welcome before the pending J6 committee public hearings and presentations. The Danchenko case in October will be interesting, too. We are so fortunate to have you share your insights with us!
So. Odds of a civil action by Sussman?
Zero. Come on man.
dur-ham is doing a remarkable job of reminding us all of what a highly credible investigation mueller et al had completed in itemizing the sordid details of how russia HAD illegally interfered in the 2016 presidential election and how it was welcomed by the drumpf campaign, which detailed in its Report how drumpf, don don et al had eagerly fostered numerous links with high-level russian contacts (see Mueller Report, 66-199, https://www.justice.gov/archives/sco/file/1373816/download), most notably that “[the Internet Research Agency [. . .] received funding from Russian oligarch Yevgeniy Prigozhin [who is] widely reported to have ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin.” putin’s chef has now released his schizofascist film, blazing sun, which relates the “heroism” of russia’s military in their demented struggle to denazify Ukraine. The deranged propaganda film “also included home videos — purchased via Cameo — of Donald Trump Jr. and Rudy Giuliani that were repurposed to make it appear that they were congratulating the film’s fictional protagonist on his success” (https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/deansterlingjones/russia-yevgeny-prigozhin-ukraine-trump-giuliani-films).
the rwnjs can now redirect all their piss and vinegar towards the 11 october trial of igor danchenko, who has also been indicted for lying to the fbi
what a shameless farce is dur-ham and his legal team–what a continuing stain on the doj
from his “cameo” in blazing sun and the pootie’s failed conquest of Ukraine, one can better understand the bitterness of the quadruple jackass don jr. following the federal jury’s unanimous verdict to acquit sussmann.
For those looking to thank Marcy for her work, may I suggest this?
Now a proud monthly supporter!
Took your recc and signed up for monthly. What an outstanding job by Dr. Wheeler, her team, and the intelligent commentators and poets/punners Provided needed sanity. Thank you.
Call us all “Dr”. Else you are kind of insulting the rest of us, and our degrees, here.
Dr. Bmaz, apologies of course. Did not refer to self as Dr., which I am, but that is no excuse. I was making a sly comment on a previous dimunition of MW in the press, ignoring her credentials
Thank you MW for patiently teaching us about the US legal system through the lens of this trial. Your superb research and insights have been remarkable to behold.
Wait a minute! It’s over? That’s it? I was kinda hoping for a Season 2.
No season 2, but I am sure there will be plenty of spinoffs as we approach the election in November.
Season Two is tentatively titled “The Danchenko Nexus.”
“You’re still here? It’s over. Go home.”
“Oh, you’re expecting a teaser for Durham II; well, we don’t have that kind of money. What’re you expecting, Bob Mueller to show up in an eyepatch and saucy little leather number? Go, go…”
“Oh, but I can tell you one thing and it’s a bit of a secret: in the sequel, we’re gonna have Emptywheel. Amazing character… no idea who we’re gonna cast yet, but it could be anybody. We just need a brilliant, dogged researcher with a brain the size of a planet. Could be Meryl Streep, Sandra Bullock, Kiera Knightly — she’s got range, who knows? Anyway, big secret — sssh!”
I’m thinking Gillian Anderson.
I lean toward Kelly MacDonald or Gemma Arterton. While neither are American, they both have natural coloring more appropriate to the role and can pull off the necessary edgy snark.
Considered her. Close, but missing the snark edge. Perhaps if she’d had more comedic content under her belt.
Trump threatens Pulitzer committee with legal action if they don’t rescind award for Russia probe coverage Trump noted that he asked the board twice before to revoke prizes https://www.foxnews.com/politics/trump-threatens-pulitzer-committee-legal-action-russia-probe-coverage May 31, 2022 2:40pm
Notice, please, that Trump did not threaten to sue the NYT and WaPo for the articles, just the Pulitzer committee for giving them awards.
Someone is desperate for attention.
Donald J. Trump is having a serious “woomp woomp” moment today…
Washington Examiner is also reporting, and publishes a copy of the letter:
Lol, this is such hollow horse manure that it is painful to digest. Don’t wast time worrying about it for one second.
Laugh in amusement? Absolutely.
Which of Trump’s crack team of lawyers would be the first to put their name to this suit? Even better: which of Trump’s crack team of lawyers would you *like* to see put their name on the suit?
Which of Trump’s sycophants in the US Senate will send letters to the Pulitzer committee, endorsing Trump’s threat? [A: All of them, Katie!]
According to Charlie Pierce, in the article you link to below:
He will continue to rouse his rabble on these LIES, and the results will be more democracy-destroying mayhem.
I am not laughing.
Trump the Aggrieved is always treated unfairly by corrupt others. Guess it’s time for him to once again bitch to his supporters for more money.
He started doing that twenty minutes after the verdict.
Following what Durham was saying was vertiginous. A five-year old could make the distinction of a person taking on two different roles.
Listened to news of the verdict on NPR at 2:00 pm and was surprised to hear the newsreader refer to “alleged collusion” between the Trump campaign and Russia during the 2016 campaign, as if there could be any doubt after all this time that there actually WAS collusion between Trump and Russia in 2016. I can only assume that there is still some lingering confusion in some quarters over plain old everyday collusion and actual criminal conspiracy.
Keep in mind that “collusion” has never been a thing. It is either conspiracy or nothing. “Collusion” does not exist in criminal law other than for bankruptcy fraud.
That’s my understanding, too, which is why it puzzles me to hear people speak of “alleged collusion” as if collusion were some form of criminal offense. Might as well accuse someone of “alleged digression”. “Yes, officer, we heard him rambling on and on and missing the point of the argument, so we think it may be a case of alleged digression.”
Mueller spent and was forced to spend a great deal of time in Vol. 1 having to explain this very point.
What is the more interesting and shocking that it was used in the language of his authorizing direction. I think it’s more sloppiness than anything but surprising that Mueller wasn’t simply authorized to investigate whether a criminal conspiracy existed; it would have made overall understanding much cleaner.
This quote from the jury foreperson is the most damning criticism for Durham. I heartily wish that Durham and his team would spend some time in serious self-reflection meditating on those words. Sadly, I suspect their powers of rationalization are too great.
I agree with the jury foreman.
I do too, but it rings better from a person that actually saw every bit of admitted evidence and submitted argument.
Or, in this case, jury forewoman.
Thanks. I saw an assumption made it into my response.
Personally, I think it’s less rationalization and more deliberate misrepresentation that their morals didn’t prevent them from using, but your results may vary.
I don’t swear on the internet. But its time this blanking waste of tax payer money was terminated. Is every President going to appoint special counsels to leave a trail of prosecutions after he/she leaves office?
I conquer with the comments thanking Ms. Wheeler for her superb overage of this case.
Wow. Thanks so much for being sticking to this case like glue. Fantastic coverage and analysis. Nice verdict too – D could snow this jury…
The charge against Sussmann was a sad joke from the second it was filed. This pathetic old man, Durham, trying to discredit an honest, upstanding citizen in a vain attempt to make Donald John Trump, a lifelong swindler and degenerate appear to be “picked on”. Disgusting. Thank you so much Ms. Wheeler, for your Pullitzer-worthy coverage of this very complex canard!
Today’s vocabulary word is “Redoubtable”.
See also, “Wheeler, Marcy.” From Mr. Pierce:
Seems like Charlie Pierce knows his vocabulary.
I was about to mention this, and note that Charlie Pierce probably wouldn’t use the word lightly (they know their redoubtable in Boston, and have since before the Adamses.)
MW was also recommended a bunch of times in the comments on pieces in the Washington Post, NYT and more.
Charlie follows in the steps of another Boston Globe/Esquire writer George Frazier. Frazier might say that Marcy has “duende” — a journalist writing with passion, inspiration, wit and OOMPH.
12:59 PM · May 31, 2022
Dr. Marcy, thank you for your expertise for the past three years. Your time and energy so very much appreciated. I sent a check via snail mail. Eventually, you will receive.
All the best with the new kitchen which is the “heart of the home.”
“Happiness is a small house, with a big kitchen.” Alfred Hitchcock.
Thank you so much for your excellent coverage! Your analytical skills and knowledge are truly unmatched and it is a real privilege to read your work. You don’t get enough recognition, although I think you know that a lot of the players you write about pay close attention to what you say. That is the highest form of praise and I hope you know that even without fame and fortune, your work is important and you make a difference in this world. I also think it says a lot about you as a person that you don’t chase the fame and fortune and instead focus on doing excellent work and shedding light on truth. I am very grateful and really admire what you do here. The world needs more people like you. (Sorry if this comes off as overly flattering, but honestly it’s not. You deserve every word of praise and I am not the type of person to overpraise- usually the opposite. It’s honestly rare for me to find people I truly admire, and you are one of very few.)