There were eight hours of jury selection today in the trial of attorney Michael Sussmann. John Durham was present and spent the day taking notes.
U.S. District Judge Christopher Cooper on Monday presided over the first day of the Sussmann trial, which consisted of nearly eight hours of jury selection.
Special Counsel John Durham was in the courtroom for the entirety of jury selection, but was not seated with the prosecution team. Instead, Durham sat in the first row of the courtroom, behind the government’s table…
The overwhelming majority of jurors selected told [Judge] Cooper they had not heard of the case prior to jury service…
Cooper, in dismissing the jury Monday evening, instructed jurors against doing “any independent research about the case,” and instructed them not to discuss the case even amongst fellow jurors.
The backdrop to all of the jury selection today was the 2016 election. Durham’s team attempted to keep pro-Clinton partisans off the jury but ultimately Judge Cooper allowed them after they promised they could remain impartial.
Special counsel John Durham’s team objected to putting one Clinton contributor on the panel after the man said he would “strive for impartiality as best I can.”
But the prosecution was overruled by Washington, DC, federal Judge Christopher Cooper, who said the man — who works in public policy for Amazon and appeared to be in his 40s — “expressed a high degree of confidence” that he could be impartial…
Another Clinton supporter, a former bartender who appeared to be in her 20s, said she’d also donated to progressive firebrand Ocasio-Cortez (D-The Bronx, Queens) but was put on the panel after a Sussmann defense lawyer told her that neither Clinton nor former President Donald Trump were on trial and asked if she could be impartial.
“Yes, knowing that,” she said.
Other progressives who were screened included another Clinton donor, a woman whose husband worked for the Clintons in 2008 and another woman who works for the Sierra Club and who said on a questionnaire that police should be defunded.
None of that sounds very promising for Durham’s team. Fortunately the case before the jury is pretty narrow. The question is whether or not Sussmann lied to the FBI when he claimed he’d come forward on his own rather than on behalf of a client. On that point, Durham’s team seems to have a pretty solid case.
Durham, in a filing in the weeks leading up to the trial, said “the night before the defendant met with the general counsel, the defendant conveyed the same lie in writing and sent the following text message to the general counsel’s personal cellphone.”
“Jim — it’s Michael Sussmann. I have something time-sensitive (and sensitive) I need to discuss,” the text message stated, according to Durham. “Do you have availability for a short meeting tomorrow? I’m coming on my own — not on behalf of a client or company — want to help the Bureau. Thanks.”
James Baker, the FBI lawyer that Sussmann met with the same day is prepared to testify that Sussmann told him the same thing. And two other FBI agents Baker spoke with that day both wrote down that Baker had told them Sussmann came in on his own and not on behalf of a client.
Rather than merely argue Sussmann never lied, his attorneys have claimed that even if Sussmann lied the lie wasn’t material and didn’t impact the investigation. I guess we’ll see if the jury buys that. The trial is expected to last about two weeks.