Sussmann trial reveals FBI internal investigation of Crossfire Hurricane agents

Curtis Heide was the lead agent in the FBI’s Chicago field office back in 2016. Today he testified at Michael Sussmann’s trial and mentioned that he is currently under internal investigation by the FBI for possibly withholding exculpatory evidence in portions of the Crossfire Hurricane investigation.

Heide said he was under investigation for “not identifying exculpatory information as it pertained to one of the Crossfire Hurricane investigations,” referring to the FBI codename for the early phases of the Trump-Russia probe, before special counsel Robert Mueller took over in 2017.

He said he was specifically being investigated for potentially withholding material from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, which oversees wiretaps against Americans. The material in question was a “recording from one of the subjects” of the FISA applications, Heide said.

Heide denied under oath Tuesday that he intentionally withheld any exculpatory information.

The FISA court is only known to have approved wiretaps against one American related to the Trump-Russia probe, former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page. He was investigated as a potential Russian agent, but was never charged with any crimes and denied any wrongdoing.

One FBI lawyer, Kevin Clinesmith, has already pleaded guilty to altering an email which would have been exculpatory of Carter Page. It would be pretty remarkable if another agent was found to have withheld evidence related to surveillance of Page. The NY Times‘ Adam Goldman is live-tweeting the trial. He has more on Heide’s testimony.

Heide is the agent who wrote the document formally opening the investigation into the Alfa Bank allegations which were brought to the FBI’s James A. Baker by Michael Sussmann. But the document he wrote says the source was a DOJ referral, not Sussmann. That’s very odd as the Washington Examiner pointed out yesterday:

“On or about September 19, 2016, FBI received a referral of information from the U.S. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE, detailing an unusually configured email server in Pennsylvania belonging to the TRUMP ORGANIZATION,” the FBI wrote in September 2016. “In that referral, the DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE provided the FBI with a white paper that was produced by an anonymous third party. According to the white paper, a U.S.-based server that is owned by the TRUMP ORGANIZATION has been communicating with the Russian-based ALFA BANK organization in Moscow, Russia.”

Andy McCarthy, a former chief assistant U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York and now a senior fellow at the National Review Institute, told the Washington Examiner: “The investigation opening document is totally outrageous. It not only claims that the information came from the Justice Department. It suggests that the Justice Department commissioned and may even vouch for the white paper.”

The former federal prosecutor added, “To identify Sussmann as ‘the Department of Justice’ is especially outrageous under circumstances where (a) he is a lawyer for the Clinton Campaign, and (b) the representation that got him in the door to meet Baker was that he wasn’t representing anyone (which would include the Justice Department, if he had any such technical tie).”…

[James A. Baker] testified that he did not remember ever being told that the matter had been referred to the bureau by the DOJ. When asked by prosecutors if that was an incorrect basis for the investigation, Baker said it “makes absolutely no sense to me.”

I’m not sure it makes sense to anyone. Heide was asked about it.

Later he claimed it was a typo:

Why wasn’t Sussmann’s name attached to this? Why is the source anonymous? That’s a curious typo given that Sussmann apparently lied about his own motives. In any case, Sussmann met with James A. Baker on Sep. 19, 2016. It sounds as if the FBI knew there was nothing to substantiate any of this almost immediately.

If it looks like a dirty trick spun up by Clinton connected people that’s probably because it was a dirty trick spun up by Clinton connected people. But it would have been even easier for the FBI to discount this if it had been clear to everyone involved that the source wasn’t the DOJ but was a Democratic lawyer working for the Clinton campaign.

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