The argument being made by officials with the 2016 Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democrat National Committee that their papers are protected by attorney-client privilege and can’t be used as evidence in court has just taken a big hit.
That those entities were involved in the “Russiagate” conspiracy theory cooked up against President Donald Trump during and after the 2016 election seems no longer to be in dispute.
But what is still unresolved is exactly what documentation of that involvement is going to be used as evidence in court as special counsel John Durham investigates, and brings charges against, offenders.
So far he’s obtained one conviction, and now has charges of lying pending against two other defendants, including a lawyer who worked for Clinton’s campaign.
The Democrats have been arguing that their documentation should not appear as evidence because it’s all protected from disclosure by attorney-client privilege.
But now a report from Margot Cleveland, in the Federalist, points out that the Federal Election Commission already has ruled on many of those documents – and found them not to be privileged.
The report explained, “A little more than a month ago, news broke that the FEC had fined the DNC and the Clinton campaign more than $100,000 related to those organizations’ reporting of fees paid in 2016. Those fees were paid to Fusion GPS for opposition research but marked on financial disclosures as legal expenses remitted to its law firm, Perkins Coie. Until Thursday, however, the basis for the FEC’s conclusion that probable cause existed that the DNC and Clinton campaign had misreported the purpose of those disbursements remained buried in the bureaucracy.”
The report said, “The now-released file about the FEC’s investigation into the DNC and the Clinton campaign contains a bevy of material. It includes, most relevantly, memoranda prepared by the FEC’s Office of General Counsel and approved by the FEC.”
Available documents from the FEC now show “Hillary Clinton campaign payments to Fusion GPS to dig up dirt on Donald Trump were not treated as legal expenses. These newly released documents eviscerate the Democratic National Committee and Clinton campaign’s attempts to hide behind attorney-client privilege in the special counsel’s criminal case against former Clinton campaign attorney Michael Sussmann,” the report said.
Sussman’s trial is later this month. He’s accused of lying to then-FBI General Counsel James Baker.
He insists that that trove of 38 documents be off-limits.
Durham has filed paperwork to include them in the case.
One FEC memo notes that the commission reviewed invoices, account statements, checks and more, and they showed “the DNC paid Fusion $777,907.97 for opposition research” while reporting the work as “legal and compliance consulting.”
The FEC said the Clinton campaign made payments of $175,000 for opposition research while calling it “legal services.”
Both the DNC and campaign agreed to settlements, rather than fighting the FEC.
The FEC’s paperwork reveals that the campaign and DNC paid bills related to “Russia research” instead of legal work.
The FEC found that “merely running bills through a law firm could not convert them into legal expenses, the commissioners stressed,” the Federalist reported.
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