FINALLY: Clinton's 'Russian Collusion Lawyer' Trial Begins

By Pamela Glass | Tuesday, 17 May 2022 19:25
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Jury selection for the high-profile criminal trial against Democratic cybersecurity lawyer Michael Sussmann occurred Monday, with a rare public appearance by special counsel John Durham, who brought the case in his long-running investigation’s first trial.

Sussmann was charged last year with concealing his clients — Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign and “Tech Executive-1,” known to be former Neustar executive Rodney Joffe — from FBI general counsel James Baker when he demonstrated debunked accusations suggesting a secret backchannel between the Trump Organization and Russia’s Alfa-Bank throughout a September 2016 meeting.

Durham spent much of Monday sitting just behind the complete prosecution table close to the gallery half filled with press and other audience members who had shown up to the Washington, D.C., federal courthouse. He wore a mask, which largely revealed his trademark mustache and goatee. Robert Mueller did not make a similar appearance in court when he was special counsel.

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The “voir dire” process — in which dozens of potential jurors were questioned by the judge, the prosecution, and the defense — lasted almost the whole day, and a full jury was finalized Monday evening. The jury consists of 12 jurors and four alternates, yet it is not clear who is which. The complete jury panel contains 11 women and five men.

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Many of the members of the broader jury pool, as well as some selected for the jury itself, showed strong disdain for former President Donald Trump and/or support for Clinton. Most announced they hadn’t heard of the Sussmann case until the judge explained it last week.

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“I remembered that the 2016 election was kind of a mess and that there were a lot of shenanigans,” one of the selected jurors told the court. She explained she “strongly” disliked Trump and that she didn’t think she could be fair if the case were about someone on his team yet stressed that “if it’s not directly about Trump,” then she could be impartial.

Another selected juror, a man who works for the Treasury Department, announced he had donated money to the Democratic side throughout the 2016 primaries but said he believed he could be fair. He was further aware that Robby Mook, one of the names listed on a jury questionnaire, had worked for the Clinton campaign. (Mook was the campaign manager.)

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An additional juror, this one an attorney, stated she had heard of Perkins Coie, the law firm that represented the Clinton campaign in 2016, though had no interactions with it and has heard of Sussmann and Durham yet didn’t recall any details. She insisted she couldn’t recall if she had donated money in 2016 but announced if she had, it would’ve been to Clinton. She did donate money in 2020. The juror stated she “certainly had a strong preference for one candidate over the other” but believed she could be impartial.

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