(NewsGlobal.com)- In a win for Special Counsel John Durham, the judge in former Clinton campaign lawyer Michael Sussmann’s trial has agreed to review dozens of records currently withheld over assertions of attorney-client privilege by the Clinton campaign to see if they were improperly withheld.
On Wednesday, Judge Christopher Cooper granted Durham’s motion, arguing that his reviewing the disputed records “in camera” (away from the public and press) would not break any possible attorney-client privilege.
Sussmann has been indicted on charges of concealing from the FBI that he brought “evidence” of the supposed backchannel between the Trump Organization and Russia’s Alfa Bank on behalf of his clients – the Clinton campaign and tech executive Rodney Joffe.
Hillary for America, the DNC, and Sussmann’s former law firm Perkins Coie have argued that documents and communications pertaining to the opposition research firm Fusion GPS were protected under attorney-client privilege, claiming that Fusion was providing “legal services.”
However, that argument was recently dealt a blow after the Federal Elections Commission fined the Clinton campaign and the DNC for labeling payments to Fusion GPS as “legal advice and services” on disclosure forms. The FEC determined that the money was for opposition research, not “legal services.”
John Durham’s initial filing arguing against the attorney-client privilege claim included the FEC’s ruling.
In his decision, Judge Cooper said he didn’t doubt former Perkins Coie partner Marc Elias’ claim that Fusion was hired to provide legal services. But the judge said that doesn’t mean everything Fusion did will be covered by attorney-client privilege.
What remains to be seen is how the judge will rule on the question of privilege once he has reviewed the documents Durham subpoenaed, which include thirty internal Fusion GPS emails and eight emails related to Joffe and Fusion.
What’s remarkable, however, is that lawyers for Fusion GPS, the Clinton campaign, and Sussmann are continuing to argue that the opposition research firm was hired to provide “legal services.”
It didn’t work with the FEC.
What makes them think it will work with the judge?