A federal judge placed limits on special counsel John Durham’s evidence in court meant to demonstrate a “joint venture” involving Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign to discredit rival Donald Trump with Russian collusion claims.
A ruling Saturday evening included wins and losses for both the prosecution and defense in the case against Democratic cybersecurity lawyer Michael Sussmann, who was indicted for allegedly concealing his clients, Clinton’s campaign and “Tech Executive-1” Rodney Joffe, from FBI general counsel James Baker in September 2016 when he presented internet data that suggested a now-discredited back channel between the Trump Organization and Russia’s Alfa-Bank. Sussmann has pleaded not guilty.
“The government contends that the Alfa Bank data was gathered as part of a concerted effort to collect and disseminate derogatory opposition research about Donald Trump,” U.S. District Judge Christopher Cooper, appointed by former President Barack Obama, wrote in the 24-page ruling, adding that participants in the “purported joint undertaking” included Sussmann, the Clinton campaign, Clinton campaign general counsel and Perkins Coie partner Marc Elias, the opposition research firm Fusion GPS, Joffe, and several computer researchers working at Joffe’s direction.
“The Court will exercise its discretion not to engage in the kind of extensive evidentiary analysis that would be required to find that such a joint venture existed, and who may have joined it, in order to admit these emails,” the judge ruled, “For starters, Mr. Sussmann is not charged with a conspiracy.”
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