US

Hillary Clinton’s 2016 Campaign Tries To Hide Its Legal Secrets From Special Counsel John Durham

Durham is seeking more information about Perkins Coie, the campaign’s lead law firm, and its contacts and emails with Fusion GPS – a politically charged court battle that could yield more insight into the company’s research. campaign on Donald Trump and Russia that included the infamous Steele Dossier, which contained unverified and salacious allegations about Trump.

Durham wants a federal judge to review the records privately, and arguments over 38 documents that Fusion GPS, Perkins Coie and the campaign are trying to shield will likely occur in the coming weeks. The documents Durham has collected so far for his case, he says, “raise questions” about what can remain secret, adding that he “lacks complete information”.

The special counsel was in court on Wednesday arguing he could use other information for the same case against Michael Sussmann, a Perkins Coie attorney who gave the FBI an internet search that data analysts say , could link Trump to a Russian bank in 2016. (Sussmann’s meeting with the FBI was not about the Steele dossier.)

Sussmann is fighting a criminal charge for failing to disclose at his FBI meeting that he also worked for Democrats. The case is expected to go to trial this summer. As part of Durham’s access to evidence discussions, Sussmann, Perkins Coie, Fusion GPS, the Clinton campaign and others each had to speak in court this week in an attempt to defend the secrecy of their records. and prevent the dissemination of additional information. to the jury.

In sworn affidavits, top Clinton officials John Podesta, Robby Mook and Marc Elias argue that work done by Fusion GPS for Clinton’s campaign could be considered lawful work — and should be protected by the attorney-client privilege.

Mook, Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign manager, distanced himself from hiring Fusion. He said he enlisted Perkins Coie for legal work as well as fact-finding and research advice, but ‘was not aware during the campaign of any sub-contractors that Perkins Coie had engaged to assist him. to provide legal services and legal advice”.

Podesta, Clinton’s campaign chairman, said in his own affidavit that he believed legal working papers held by Perkins Coie or its contractors, such as Fusion GPS, should be kept secret.

The trio of affidavits mark the first time the campaign — and these men in particular — have told their stories publicly in court. They also provide an unusual revisit to one campaign’s thinking as it prepared to face Trump’s unique brand of political bluster in the general election.

Elias, the campaign’s legal chief and also then Perkins Coie’s partner, said he realized early in the campaign that Clinton’s likely opponent, Trump, could unravel several legal entanglements, and that the campaign should retaliate with sometimes hard-to-find research. and publicly available documents.

Elias told the court that the work of Fusion GPS was closely tied to any possible legal response the campaign might need to muster.

Elias cited an engagement letter between Perkins Coie and Fusion GPS to help with legal advice, particularly if public documents and strategic thinking were needed for litigation. That letter is one of the documents Durham wants the judge to review, according to court documents.

In the past, Trump was quick to threaten to sue other politicians and peddled the lie that former President Barack Obama did not have a US birth certificate, Elias noted.

“As I recall, these claims have resulted in threats of lawsuits and actual litigation,” Elias wrote. “As a result, in my capacity and as general counsel for the Clinton campaign, I expected to encounter similar claims and litigation risks from the candidate, the political party and their opposing supporters.”

He continued: “In the context of the 2016 election, I generally remember being aware that candidate Trump had been involved in an exceptionally high number of lawsuits – ranging from slips and slumps to complex bankruptcies and restructurings. – more than I remember previously met on behalf of a client in the political arena. I also generally remember being aware that he had used the threat of a libel suit for an advantage Fearing legal threats like those faced by former candidates John Kasich, Ted Cruz and Jeb Bush, the DNC and Clinton campaign employed more than 100 researchers and communications staff in 2016, Elias said.

Elias’ statement is somewhat different from the characterization Trump and Durham himself have used to describe Fusion’s efforts – with both classing them more as the type of political smear effort known as the search for opposition; in Trump’s words, to “dig up the ‘dirt'” for a “phony record”.

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