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Clinton’s attorney tried to “use” the FBI, the prosecutor said US and world news

WASHINGTON (AP) – Hillary Clinton’s campaign lawyer in 2016, accused of lying to the FBI at the start of the Trump and Russian investigations, tried to “use and manipulate” federal law enforcement to create an “October surprise” in recent weeks of the presidential race. Tuesday at the start of the trial. Lawyers told the jury he had never lied.

Michael Sasman is accused of misleading the FBI during a meeting in September 2016, telling the bureau’s attorney general that he did not act on behalf of a particular client when he provided computer data that he said could link Russia to the candidate. Donald Trump. In fact, prosecutors said he acted on behalf of Clinton and another client who passed the data to him.

He lied, sworn prosecutor Britney Shaw said, hoping to “surprise” the FBI’s investigations into Trump and negatively cover him in the news, and because he knew the FBI would find the information less reliable if it thought it was was presented on behalf of the Clinton Company.

“He told a lie designed to achieve a political goal, a lie designed to lead the FBI into the presidential election,” said prosecutor Britney Shaw.

But Zusman’s lawyers have sought to counter each of the prosecution’s allegations, portraying him as a respected lawyer with extensive experience in law enforcement and cybersecurity who will never lie to the FBI. That he represented Democrat clients was well known to the FBI, and he didn’t want to hide anything, they said.

“He was someone the FBI knew represented party clients,” said attorney Michael Bosworth in his opening remarks. “The FBI knew he was representing Clinton that summer. The FBI knew he was an advocate for the DNC, the Democratic Party itself. ”

In any case, Bosworth said, it would be impossible for prosecutors to prove that Sasman was lying because only he and the FBI lawyer he met, James Baker, were present and no one was making notes. Five and a half years after the meeting, Baker’s memory of what was said was “clear as dirt,” Bosworth said.

Special Prosecutor John Durham, a prosecutor appointed to investigate potential government offenses in the early days of the Trump-Russia investigation, arrives at the E. Barrett Ptiman Federal Courthouse on Monday, May 16, 2022, in Washington.

Sasman’s trial is the first in an investigation by Special Prosecutor John Durham into an initial FBI investigation into Russian interference in the election and potential links to Trump’s campaign. Although Durham was believed to have focused, at least initially, on the misconduct of government officials during the investigation in Russia, Zusman’s case alleges that the wrongdoing was committed by an FBI tipper, not the FBI itself.

Early acknowledging the political burden of the case, Shaw urged jurors to put aside any feelings they may have about Trump, Russia or Clinton.

“Some people have very strong feelings for politics and Russia, and many people have strong feelings for Donald Trump and Russia. But we are not here because these accusations concern any of them, nor are we here, because the client was Hillary Clinton’s company , “Shaw said.

Rather, she added: “We are here because the FBI is our institution. It should not be used as a political tool.”

It is about a meeting on September 19, 2016, at which Zusman presented to Baker, then the FBI’s general counsel, computer data collected from other clients, which allegedly showed secret contact between the computer servers of the Trump Organization and the Russian Alpha. Bank. This connection, if true, would have been explosive at a time when the FBI was investigating whether the Trump campaign and Russia were going to conspire to influence the election.

The FBI investigated the data, but quickly ruled out anything suspicious or disgusting. The online activity reflected what Shaw called the “spam email server” used to send marketing.

“The server did not report the crime,” Shaw told the jury, “and it is not a threat to national security.”

The FBI’s evaluating agent, Scott Hellman, said the data was based on “far-reaching” assumptions and did not support the conclusion of any link between Trump and Russia, let alone a secret return channel.

When questioned by the prosecutor, he said knowing where the information came from and by whom it was provided would be a key “data point” for assessing her trust, although he said he would most likely do a technical analysis no matter what.

Trump's investigation in Russia

Michael Sasman, a cybersecurity lawyer who represented Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign in 2016, arrives at the E. Barrett Ptiman Federal Courthouse on Monday, May 16, 2022, in Washington. Zusman is accused of making false statements by the FBI during the Trump and Russian investigations.

Bosworth told the jury that Sasman took computer data seriously because it showed “strange contacts” between Trump’s business organization and Russia and because it was passed on to him by Rodney Joffe, a client who, according to Bosworth, was so respected a technology manager that the FBI asked him to be an informant.

He said Zusman was looking for a meeting to warn Baker that The New York Times could soon publish a story about computer data. Shaw, a prosecutor, expressed a different view, saying Zusman was disappointed that the reporter he worked with had not yet written about the data, and wanted to encourage an FBI investigation that could provide media coverage.

But after the meeting, the FBI asked the newspaper to postpone publication. Bosworth said it was the opposite of what the Clinton company wanted, believing he did not act on behalf of the company when planning the meeting.

“The FBI meeting was something they didn’t allow, what they didn’t tell him to do, and what they didn’t want,” Bosworth said.

Durham was appointed in 2019 by then-Attorney General William Barr to investigate any violations as the U.S. government considered potential coordination between Russia and Trump’s campaign in 2016. An investigation previously conducted by Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller did not reveal a criminal conspiracy between Russia and Trump’s campaign, but found that Russia sought to help in the Trump election.

The Alfa Bank case was a peripheral part of the FBI investigation, and allegations of potentially secret contacts were not even mentioned in Mueller’s 2019 report.

Durham’s work has led to three criminal cases. One against a former FBI lawyer ended in a guilty plea. Another case against an analyst accused of lying to the FBI is pending.

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