WASHINGTON, DC — Former Hillary Clinton campaign lawyer Michael Sussmann denied he was “representing a client” when he gave the CIA faulty data linking Donald Trump to Russia — and appeared “frustrated” that officials weren’t taking the information seriously, two former agency employees testified Friday.
One ex-spy — identified in court only as “Kevin P.” — recalled that he and a colleague met with Sussmann at CIA headquarters in Langley, Va., in February 2017, shortly after Trump took office.
Sussmann gave the men two thumb drives that he said came from unidentified “contacts” and showed a secret, cyber back channel between a Trump Organization server and Russia’s Alfa Bank, Kevin P. said
“He said he was not representing a client,” the witness testified, adding that Sussmann also said he’d previously given “similar but unrelated” information to the FBI.
Sussmann, 57, is on trial in Washington, DC, federal court for allegedly denying that he was acting on behalf of a client when he gave two thumb drives and three “white papers” on the purported Trump-Russia ties to then-FBI general counsel James Baker on Sept. 19, 2016.
Sussmann is charged with a single count of lying to the government, with special counsel John Durham alleging that he was actually working for the Clinton campaign and another client, tech executive Rodney Joffe, who told Sussmann about the data.
Following the meeting at CIA headquarters, Kevin P.’s colleague — identified as “Steve M.” — drafted a memo summarizing what took place and noting that Sussmann had been there on behalf of a client, according to evidence shown to jurors.
But Kevin P. edited the memo to take out the word “client” and replaced it with “contacts,” another exhibit showed.
Sussmann’s meeting in Langley appeared to be the result of an earlier sit-down with retired CIA official Mark Chadason, a former station chief in both Europe and North Africa, who testified that he met with a Sussmann at a hotel in northern Virginia on Jan. 31, 2017, at the request of a mutual friend.
Sussmann told Chadason that he wanted to give the CIA information about a national security issue and had previously reached out to the agency’s general counsel in an attempt to do so, Chadason said.
Sussmann said he got the information from a Republican client but added that he wasn’t “sure if he would reveal himself to the CIA,” the former spook said.
Sussmann also said he planned to go to the New York Times if the CIA didn’t pursue the matter, Chadason recalled.
Under cross-examination, Chadason said he didn’t view Sussmann’s remark as a threat but an act of desperation.
“I understood it as a frustration,” he recalled. “He [Sussmann] seemed frustrated throughout the meeting.”