Special counsel John Durham’s case against Michael Sussmann—a Democratic Party-linked attorney who was accused of lying to the FBI—can move toward a trial next month, a federal judge ruled Wednesday, a victory for the Trump-era special counsel in a case some Trump allies have embraced but Sussmann’s attorneys argue is politically motivated.
Judge Christopher Cooper—an Obama appointee—rejected a motion from Sussmann’s lawyers to dismiss the case, which was first brought after a grand jury indicted him in mid-September.
Durham’s team accused Sussmann of falsely claiming he wasn’t working “for any client” when he met with an FBI official in 2016 to tip the government off about purportedly suspicious Trump Organization email data, when in reality, Sussmann was ostensibly working for Hillary Clinton’s campaign and a tech executive named Rodney Joffe.
Sussmann has pleaded not guilty: His attorneys have denied the charges against him, and argued even if he did make that claim to the FBI, he shouldn’t be prosecuted for it because the statement wasn’t “material” to any investigation.
Cooper wrote in his ruling Wednesday the debate over whether Sussmann’s statement was materially false—which is a necessary component in finding him guilty—”is a question that generally must be answered by a jury.”