(…) Now we get to Marc Elias.
Elias meets weekly with Fusion GPS at his office. Typically Peter Fritsch and Glenn Simpson would be in attendance. Generally, those meetings involved discussions of Elias’s “needs” and Fusion GPS’s “work” – which included what Elias described as the “unusual connections” the Trump Campaign had with Russia. They would also report to Elias on their findings related to Trump during the election.
Notably, Elias mentioned Jake Sullivan as someone at the Clinton Campaign who knew about the Trump/Russia research (though there is uncertainty as to whether Sullivan knew about Fusion’s activities). Elias would give the campaign these updates.
A brief aside: Jake Sullivan’s wife is Margaret Goodlander – who serves as counsel to Attorney General Merrick Garland. We understand that she has not recused herself from anything having to do with the Special Counsel’s investigation. We further understand that Goodlander is keeping close tabs on Durham’s investigation. We’ll report on that down the road…
Anyway, Elias also testified that the Clinton Campaign paid them (Perkins Coie) a “flat fee” for their legal services. Why is this important? Because it explains why Sussmann would block bill the Clinton Campaign (see tweet below). (“Block billing” is having a multi-hour entry with a generalized description. Example: “6.5 hours on confidential project.) For flat fee work, attorneys are generally allowed block billing because the client isn’t paying the hourly rate.
That concludes the morning session. We’ll update this post once we receive the afternoon transcript…
The Special Counsel then walked Elias through a number of billing entries/emails from and involving Sussmann. These included meetings with Elias, meetings with Joffe, and Fusion – and involved “the Alfa-Bank allegations.”
Then there’s the infamous Slate article on the Alfa Bank/Trump connections. Sussmann told Elias that the Alfa Bank data had been provided to the media. And after the Slate article was published, Elias forwarded it to the campaign:
Elias further offered that he would have briefed the Clinton Campaign about the Alfa Bank matter. He also admitted that he had discretion to instruct Fusion GPS to pursue leads and take investigative steps without checking with the Clinton Campaign.
Cross-Examination of Marc Elias:
Some notable moments of the Elias cross-examination included:
- An e-mail from Robby Mook to Elias forwarding an article discussing that reporters at the New York Times are working on a Trump-Russia story (Alfa Bank).
- Sussmann didn’t seek Elias’s authorization or permission to go to the FBI. He couldn’t recall anyone with the Clinton Campaign telling Sussmann to go to the FBI.
- Elias was frustrated with the FBI for not doing anything “particularly helpful in investigating or doing anything to prevent the leaks of the [DNC] emails.”
Re-direct of Marc Elias
- Fusion GPS did not need to consult with Elias before sharing info with the media.
- Elias admitted the existence of an FBI investigation can prompt news stories. He also admitted that FBI investigations can speed up news stories. These questions attacked the heart of the Sussmann defense – and address how the New York Times article from Eric Lichtblau “got stuck” because his editors were reluctant to pursue the story.
Day 3 of the Michael Sussmann Trial. Special Prosecutors called Democratic power lawyer Marc Elias, Former FBI General Counsel James Baker and FusionGPS’s Laura Seago.
Timecodes: 00:00:00 – Intro 00:00:58 – Mindmap Update 00:06:02 – Transcript of the Jury Trial (Sussmann Trial Day 3) 00:10:26 – Witness Deborah Fine (Direct Examination) 00:22:55 – Witness Deborah Fine (Cross-Examination) 00:30:11 – Witness Deborah Fine (Redirect Examination) 00:31:01 – Witness Laura Seago (Direct Examination) 00:52:00 – Witness Laura Seago (Cross-Examination) 01:06:52 – Witness Marc Elias (Direct Examination) 01:51:01 – Juror #8 Issue 01:54:38 – Recap & Conclusion 01:55:10 – YouTube Live Chats #Sussmann #Durham #WatchingtheWatchers