Hillary Clinton campaign lawyer Michael Sussmann, on trial for allegedly lying to the FBI in a case brought by special counsel John Durham, will not testify as part of his defense, his lawyers said in court Thursday as they rested their case.
The defense case featured seven witnesses over two days. This included Clinton’s campaign manager Robby Mook, former FBI and Justice Department officials, and character witnesses who described Sussmann as honorable and trustworthy. Overall, the defense tried to undercut Durham’s claim that Sussmann intentionally lied to the FBI as part of a plot to help Clinton win.
Jury instructions took place Thursday, and District Judge Christopher Cooper said closing arguments are set for Friday. That’ll pave the way for the jury to begin deliberations, potentially Friday, or possibly Tuesday, after the long Memorial Day weekend, Cooper said.
“Obviously, politics has played a role in the evidence,” Cooper told the lawyers while they hashed out the language of the jury instructions, while the jury was on a break. “We may want to remind the jury that they shouldn’t make any decisions based on Mr. Sussmann’s political leanings, their own political leanings, or the special counsel’s political leanings.”
Jurors will decide whether Sussmann is guilty or not guilty of one felony count of making a false statement to the FBI. There are 12 jurors and three alternates. It’s not known which jurors are alternates, but the overall group is made up of 10 women and five men, and is racially diverse.
Sussmann maintains that he never lied when he met then-FBI general counsel James Baker in September 2016. During that meeting, Sussmann passed along a tip about a potential server backchannel between Donald Trump and Russia-based Alfa Bank, which is tied to the Kremlin. The FBI looked into the matter but didn’t find any illicit activity.
Prosecutors rested their case Wednesday, after seven days of testimony that relived some of the most controversial moments of the 2016 election, the Clinton email investigation, and the FBI’s early investigation into potential collusion between Trump’s campaign and the Russians.