Court Grants Durham Access to 22 Emails Fusion GPS Claimed Were Privileged

A federal judge on Thursday ordered the research firm Fusion GPS to turn over nearly two dozen emails to special counsel John Durham, a victory for the special counsel over Fusion’s and others’ claims that the emails were privileged communications.

Durham asked D.C. District Court Judge Christopher Cooper to review 38 Fusion emails “in camera,” or out of view of the public, to determine whether they were being improperly withheld from Durham’s team. After reviewing the documents, Cooper ruled that over half of them did not fall under attorney-client privilege as cybersecurity attorney Michael Sussmann, Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign, and Fusion argued.

Sussmann is set to stand trial next week for allegedly lying to the FBI in 2016 when he approached then-FBI general counsel James Baker about a secret backchannel between the Trump Organization and Alfa Bank, one of the largest private banks in Russia. Durham has alleged that, contrary to Sussmann’s claims, the cybersecurity attorney approached Baker as a Clinton campaign operative to spread now-debunked claims about former President Donald Trump.

While Durham has gained access to the 22 of the 38 emails he requested, Cooper forbid prosecutors from introducing them as evidence in the Sussmann trial. Cooper said that entering the emails into evidence days before the trial would “prejudice Mr. Sussmann’s defense.”

“Still, the record shows that these discussions ended in January 2022—yet the Special Counsel waited to file this motion until April 6, 2022, just over a month before trial was set to begin. And, given the number of privilege holders involved and the fact-bound nature of the issues, resolving the motion has naturally taken us to the eve of trial,” Cooper wrote. “Under these circumstances, allowing the Special Counsel to use these documents at trial would prejudice Mr. Sussmann’s defense.” (Read more from “Court Grants Durham Access to 22 Emails Fusion GPS Claimed Were Privileged” HERE)

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