Judge Orders Fusion GPS to Turn Over 22 Emails to Durham – Opinion

Christopher Cooper, Judge has made a ruling on Fusion GPS emails. This is the case John Durham brought against Michael Sussmann, former Clinton lawyer.

While Fusion GPS was asked to turn over their emails, they withheld 1,500 of them, claiming that the emails didn’t have to be turned over because of attorney-client privilege, or privileged as attorney work product. Durham moved to have 38 emails produced. He believed that the emails were related to the attempt to defame Donald Trump through false Russia collusion Alfa Bank stories. So, they’re important ones to have to paint the full picture against Trump.

The judge granted the government’s motion to have the judge review the emails in camera The judge will decide whether Durham should be allowed to give the emails to evidence in open court. Following that review, the judge ruled that 22 out 38 emails weren’t privileged and should be given to the Special Counsel. These 22 emails consisted mainly of internal emails and were intended to be used to spread information to the media. The judge held that these “included pitching certain stories, providing information on background, and answering reporters’ questions.” So, they were not protected by attorney-client privilege or work product privilege, because they were media relations emails.

The judge found that 16 emails were protected. Eighteen of these emails involve communications within Fusion. The judge said he was “unable to tell from the emails or the surrounding circumstances whether they were prepared for a purpose other than assisting Perkins Coie in providing legal advice to the Clinton campaign.” Therefore the judge determined they were privileged based in part on the sworn declarations of Marc Elias.

Plus, the judge said Durham hadn’t shown “substantial need” for the emails for his case. Eight emails were sent by Rodney Joffe. Also, communications between Laura Seago (Fusion employee) and Michael Sussmann were included in the last eight. The court said the email chains were labeled “privileged client/attorney communications,” and Joffe was the apparent client. According to Joffe, “the purpose of the communications at issue was to obtain [Fusion’s]To allow Mr. Sussmann provide assistance with technical issues and cybersecurity, [Mr. Joffe] competent, informed legal advice.”

The judge ordered that 22 of the emails be returned, but he said that Durham waited too long for the email to be produced, even though he had known that Durham was claiming privilege for several months. Durham claims they wanted to obtain the emails by cooperating rather than making a motion. But because now they are on the eve of the trial, the judge said that this could prejudice the trial if he were to allow the prosecution to be able to use the emails at trial, that this could prejudice Sussmann’s defense. The Court took no position on the remainder of the 1,500 emails, as they weren’t part of the prosecution’s motion to compel.

So, that’s not a great decision, but it will mean that Durham will get to see those emails and determine how they can inform his case. There’s now a question of where he can go with Laura Seago, who is scheduled to testify, and to whom he gave immunity if he can’t get in the emails that he likely wanted her to speak to. Concerning is also the judge’s acceptance of Fusion GPS as having allegedly helped Marc Elias in legal advice. The judge had also previously limited evidence that could be introduced, saying he didn’t want to have a mini trial as to the concept of everyone acting in a “joint venture.”

So, we’ll have to see where it goes from here and how much of a crimp this throws into Durham’s case. There’s also still an open question about the remainder of the 1,500 emails. Trial is scheduled to start on Monday. Major names, including Robby Mook (Clinton campaign manager), Marc Elias (Inspector General Michael Horowitz), and Marc Elias (Clinton campaign manager) are among the witnesses.

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