John Durham accused by former prosecutor of trying to hand Trump a new weapon
Official portrait.

According to former U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade, the last-minute indictment offered up by Special Counsel John Durham won't hold up to scrutiny and was likely intended to hand Donald Trump a weapon to fend off claims that Russia had a hand in his 2016 election.

Earlier in the week, Durham announced an indictment against attorney Michael Sussmann, a former federal prosecutor who previously worked for a law firm linked to the Democratic Party. As NPR reported, "Sussmann is facing a single false statements count in connection with a conversation he had with then-FBI general counsel Jim Baker on Sept. 19, 2016. In that meeting, Sussmann shared information about possible ties between a Kremlin-linked Russian lender, Alfa Bank, and a computer server at the Trump Organization."

With McQuade noting there is very little direct evidence that Sussman lied and that he wasn't hiding his ties to Hillary Clinton which were well known in Washington D.C.. she claimed it was an obvious attempt to come up with one charge before his time as a special counsel ran out.

As McQuade wrote: "A grand jury only needs to find probable cause that a crime was committed to return an indictment, but DOJ policy requires a higher standard. Before putting a person through the expense, burden and stigma of criminal charges, a prosecutor should make a determination 'that the admissible evidence will probably be sufficient to obtain and sustain a conviction.' This case comes woefully short of that standard."

With that in mind, the former prosecutor speculated that Durham filed his case in such a way that he could throw more fuel on the fire for Trump to use to protest the Russia accusations.

"So why would Durham bother to file charges in a case so rife with issues?" McQuade wrote before adding that one clue may be that Durham's indictment, "...discusses the Clinton campaign's efforts to engage in opposition research on former President Donald Trump, much of it beyond the scope of the very narrow offense with which Sussmann is charged. It may be that Durham is using this indictment as a vehicle to disseminate what he has found to the public so that Trump and his allies can paint a false equivalence between the conduct of the Trump and Clinton campaigns."

The former prosecutor added, "Mueller found that the Trump campaign shared polling data with a Russia intelligence officer, met with Russians to obtain dirt on Clinton, and coordinated messaging around the disclosure of stolen email messages. With this indictment, Trump can now say that it was Clinton who brought information to the FBI about links to Russia in the first place and yet again claim the Mueller investigation was a hoax."

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