- WASHINGTON EXAMINER - Jerry Dunleavy - APR 27, 2022 -
Hillary Clinton's tweet touting Trump-Russia collusion claims will not be allowed as evidence in the trial against Clinton campaign lawyer Michael Sussmann despite efforts by special counsel John Durham.
On Halloween 2016, Clinton tweeted, “Donald Trump has a secret server ... It was set up to communicate privately with a Putin-tied Russian bank.”
Clinton later tweeted, “Computer scientists have apparently uncovered a covert server linking the Trump Organization to a Russian-based bank.”
She also shared a lengthy statement by then-Clinton campaign adviser, and President Joe Biden's current national security adviser, Jake Sullivan.
“This could be the most direct link yet between Donald Trump and Moscow,” Sullivan claimed. "This secret hotline may be the key to unlocking the mystery of Trump’s ties to Russia.”
Sullivan added, “We can only assume that federal authorities will now explore this direct connection between Trump and Russia.”
On Wednesday, Judge Christopher Cooper, an Obama appointee, denied Durham’s efforts to bring the tweet up at trial, saying “the court will exclude that as hearsay” and that “it’s likely duplicative of other evidence” related to demonstrating the attorney-client relationship.
Sussmann was indicted in September for allegedly concealing his clients — Clinton's 2016 presidential campaign and “Tech Executive-1,” former Neustar executive Rodney Joffe — from FBI general counsel James Baker in September 2016 when he pushed since-debunked claims of a secret back channel between the Trump Organization and Russia’s Alfa-Bank. Sussmann has pleaded not guilty.
Durham had told the federal court earlier this month that he wanted the October 2016 tweet from the Clinton campaign promoting the Alfa-Bank claims to be admitted as evidence at the May trial.
The special counsel argued the tweet is not inadmissible hearsay "because it is not being offered for its truth” — emphasizing that the prosecutors actually believe its claims were false. Durham said he instead wanted to present the tweet to “show the existence of the defendant’s attorney-client relationship with the Clinton Campaign, which is directly relevant to the false statement charge.”
The FBI, CIA, special counsel Robert Mueller, a bipartisan Senate Intelligence Committee investigation, and Durham’s team have all cast doubt on or shot down the Alfa-Bank claims.
Sussmann’s lawyers argued the tweet sharing Sullivan’s statement and touting the story should be considered inadmissible for two “fundamental” reasons.
“First, contrary to the Special Counsel’s misleading statement of the law, the Tweet is hearsay and it is plainly being offered for the truth: so that the Special Counsel can argue that the Campaign’s plan all along was to make a public statement about ‘federal authorities’ looking into the ‘direct connection between Trump and Russia,’" the defense argued. "Second, the Tweet — which Mr. Sussmann did not author, issue, authorize, or even know about — is irrelevant, prejudicial, and would only confuse and distract the jury from the single false statement charge it must decide.”
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