Durham’s star witness
— former FBI general counsel James Baker
— also took the stand on Wednesday and will return Thursday for more testimony
. He’s a key part of the case because he’s the FBI official who met with Sussmann to receive the Trump-Russia tip
, when Sussmann allegedly lied about bringing the material on his own
, and not on behalf of Clinton’s campaign
Baker told jurors that Sussmann texted him on his personal phone one night before the meeting, asking to discuss a sensitive matter. Sussmann also wrote, “I’m coming on my own — not on behalf of a client or company — want to help the Bureau.” Prosecutors claim Sussmann repeated this assertion during the meeting, which forms the basis of the single false statement charge. The text is one of Durham’s strongest pieces of evidence against Sussmann, because it shows his own words before he met Baker, who didn’t take notes during the meeting.
Elias: FBI wasn’t ‘particularly helpful’
Elias used his three-hour appearance on the witness stand to turn the tables on Durham’s primary narrative that Clinton’s campaign led an effort to manipulate the FBI for political means. En lugar de, Elias painted the campaign as the victim of bias from the highest levels of the FBI, as well as the victim of Russian hacks and election meddling.
He said the FBI had “not been particularly helpful in investigating” the Russian cyberattacks against the Democratic National Committee “or doing anything to prevent the leaks of the emails” that were put out by WikiLeaks throughout 2016, giving endless fodder to Trump, political reporters and social media trolls.
“El FBI, for a variety of reasons, was not going to do anything to stop these bad things from happening,” Elias said, teeing off a rebuke of former FBI Director James Comey, who famously oversaw the Clinton email investigation. “James Comey had taken public stances around that time period that were, en mi vista, unfair, and putting the thumb on the scale against Secretary Clinton.”
Comey has defended his actions, including his controversial July 2016 news conference where he criticized Clinton’s handling of classified material but said she wouldn’t be charged. He said he did this not to hurt Clinton’s political aspirations but rather to protect the FBI’s reputation.
Prosecutors also used Elias
’ testimony to show how Sussmann billed the Clinton campaign for his phone calls and meetings about the Trump-Russia cyber allegations that he eventually brought to the FBI through Baker
. According to the indictment
, Sussmann billed the Clinton campaign for his meeting with Baker
, even though he said he wasn’t there for any client