“A top lawyer working with the Democratic National Committee and Clinton campaign contacted the FBI’s general counsel in late 2016 and provided documents for the Russia probe as federal investigators prepared a surveillance warrant for Trump campaign aide Carter Page, sources close to a congressional investigation told Fox News, citing new testimony.
The FBI official who was contacted, James Baker, revealed the exchange to congressional investigators during a closed-door deposition Wednesday. He said Perkins Coie lawyer Michael Sussmann initiated contact with him and provided documents as well as computer storage devices on Russian hacking. The sources said Baker described the contact as unusual and the “only time it happened.”
Perkins Coie was a key player in the funding of the controversial anti-Trump dossier, which Republicans have long suspected helped fuel the FBI’s investigation. The DNC and Clinton campaign had hired opposition research firm Fusion GPS in April 2016, through Perkins Coie, to dig into Trump’s background. Fusion, in turn, paid British ex-spy Christopher Steele to compile the dossier, memos from which were shared with the FBI in the summer of 2016.
Sussmann’s contact with Baker suggests another connection between the early stages of the FBI’s Russia probe and those working with the DNC and Clinton campaign. Sussmann’s bio on the Perkins Coie website describes him as a former senior Justice Department official with extensive national security and cybersecurity experience: “[Sussmann] is engaged on some of the most sophisticated, high-stakes matters today, such as his representation of the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign in their responses to Russian hacking in the 2016 presidential election.”
Asked about Baker’s statements, however, a Perkins Coie spokesperson said Sussmann’s contact was not connected to the firm’s representation of the DNC or Clinton campaign.
The spokesperson said in a statement:
“Prior to joining Perkins Coie, Michael Sussmann served as a cybercrime prosecutor in the Criminal Division of the Department of Justice during both Republican and Democratic administrations. As a result, Sussmann is regularly retained by clients with complex cybersecurity matters.
“When Sussmann met with Mr. Baker on behalf of a client, it was not connected to the firm’s representation of the Hillary Clinton Campaign, the DNC or any Political Law Group client.”
Separately, two Republican lawmakers said after Baker’s deposition that he gave “explosive” closed-door testimony detailing how the Russia probe was handled in an “abnormal fashion” reflecting “political bias.” (Read more: Fox News, 10/04/2018)