WASHINGTON, D.C. — A prominent cybersecurity lawyer pleaded not guilty to making a false statement to the FBI in a charge stemming from a probe of the U.S. government’s investigation into Russian election interference.
Michael Sussman appeared Friday in D.C. federal court before Magistrate Judge Zia Faruqui. He is the second person to be prosecuted by special counsel John Durham so far.
The indictment accuses Sussmann of lying to the FBI when he was questioned about a September 2016 conversation he had with the FBI’s general counsel in which he relayed concerns from cybersecurity researchers about potentially suspicious contacts between Russia-based Alfa Bank and a Trump Organization server.
Sussmann is a former federal prosecutor who specializes in cybersecurity. He resigned from his longtime firm, Perkins Coie.
Sussmann’s lawyers, Sean Berkowitz and Michael Bosworth, said their client is a highly respected national security lawyer and they were confident he would prevail at trial and “vindicate his good name.”
His firm, Perkins Coie, has deep Democratic connections. A then-partner at the firm, Marc Elias, brokered a deal with the Fusion GPS research firm to study Trump’s business ties to Russia. That work, by former British spy Christopher Steele, produced a dossier of research that helped form the basis of flawed surveillance applications targeting a former Trump campaign official, Carter Page.
Until now, Durham had brought only one criminal case — a false statement charge against an FBI lawyer who altered an email related to the surveillance of Page to obscure the nature of Page’s preexisting relationship with the CIA. That lawyer, Kevin Clinesmith, pleaded guilty and was sentenced to probation.