Democratic attorney Michael Sussmann was charged with lying to the FBI regarding not disclosing his ties to the Hillary Clinton campaign after pushing for an investigation into then-candidate Donald Trump’s ties to Russia in 2016, specifically over a server connection between the Trump Organization and a Russian bank.
“Before putting a person through the expense, burden and stigma of criminal charges, a prosecutor should make a determination ‘that the admissible evidence will probably be sufficient to obtain and sustain a conviction.’ This case comes woefully short of that standard,” McQuade wrote in a column on Sunday.
McQuade argued the case is “weak on the merits,” especially since Sussmann’s ties to the Clintons were public knowledge, particularly to then-FBI General Counsel James Baker, to whom he provided the Alfa Bank tip.
“So even if Sussmann misrepresented what motivated him to bring the information to the FBI that day, Baker knew that Sussmann was aligned with Clinton,” McQuade wrote. “If the FBI was going to treat information from Clinton’s camp with skepticism, Sussmann had provided all of the information necessary for the FBI to form that suspicion.”
The MSNBC contributor later suggested the special counsel is politically motivated, writing, “It may be that Durham is using this indictment as a vehicle to disseminate what he has found to the public so that Trump and his allies can paint a false equivalence between the conduct of the Trump and Clinton campaigns.”
“Mueller found that the Trump campaign shared polling data with a Russia intelligence officer, met with Russians to obtain dirt on Clinton, and coordinated messaging around the disclosure of stolen email messages. With this indictment, Trump can now say that it was Clinton who brought information to the FBI about links to Russia in the first place and yet again claim the Mueller investigation was a hoax,” McQuade wrote. “Instead of a quest for justice, the indictment appears to be one more shot fired in the information war.
“Attorney General Merrick Garland had the power to stop this indictment from being filed, and did not do so, perhaps because he believed it to be a valid charge — or maybe because he feared that stopping it would create the appearance that he was acting in furtherance of partisan political interests. While protecting the independence of the institution is a noble cause, it cannot come at the expense of an innocent man being used as a pawn in an ugly political game that will further erode trust in our institutions.”
“The Mueller Report spells out all the ways in which the Russia investigation was not a hoax. The only hoax is the charge contained in this indictment,” McQuade added.