WASHINGTON (TND) — The trial of attorney Michael Sussman is now wrapping up with testimony from FBI agent Curtis Heide.
Heide was part of a team looking into an alleged secret server from Alfa bank that was believed to possibly be a backchannel communication between the Trump campaign and Russia, according to a "confidential human source" who took those claims to the FBI back in 2016.
The source was later revealed to be Sussman, who was working with the Hillary Clinton campaign at the time.
Heide testified Tuesday saying that during the investigation, he and others did not know where the allegations were coming from and that his team was simply told it was a confidential human source. He also insisted it would have been helpful to know the source’s identity.
“Specifically with regard to this matter, this involved a presidential candidate approximately a month and a half before the election,” he said, adding that individuals who bring information to the FBI can have “bias or motivation.”
He said he carried out the investigation and in the end, they were "unable to substantiate any of the allegations.”
While to this day the allegations remain unverified, the central question in this case is why Sussman went to the FBI with these allegations. He says he did so on his own while prosecutors say it was on behalf of his client — the Clinton campaign.
"Anytime someone lies to the government, particularly with a material lie, it's very harmful to the operation of the government and clearly in this case, wasted FBI resources on investigating a claim that they might not otherwise have investigated," said Zack Smith, a legal fellow, with the Heritage Foundation.
Sussman’s defense spent much of the time Tuesday focusing on the fact that Heide himself is under investigation for withholding key evidence in another case and also on errors that he made in this investigation, including a so-called typo that said it had been ordered by the Department of Justice and not the office of General Counsel. It was essentially trying to show a lack of attention to detail and create reasonable doubt.
“Keep in mind, prosecutors have to prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt. That's the highest burden we know in American law," Smith said.
It's a burden that is required in this and other aspects of John Durham’s investigation which was three years in the making.