Conducting an investigation in D.C. is practically hopeless because these creatures are all over the bench. And they’re there as the judicial palace guard.
A federal judge has turned down a request from Special Counsel John Durham for a ruling that a lawyer facing trial on a false statement charge was part of a wide-ranging “joint venture” involving Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, Democratic operatives, private investigation firm Fusion GPS and various technology researchers.
The decision issued Saturday afternoon by U.S. District Court Judge Christopher Cooper limits evidence and testimony prosecutors can offer against attorney Michael Sussmann at a jury trial set to get underway later this month.
Judge Christopher Cooper is not only an Obama appointee but his wife was Eric Holder’s counselor on national security. AG Merrick Garland officiated at their wedding. She was also one of the five FISA amici curae.
Was there ever any other possible outcome?
In Sussmann’s case, prosecutors asked Cooper to rule in advance of trial that Sussmann was “acting in concert toward a common goal” with the pro-Clinton operatives, researchers and others. Such a ruling would have given the government attorneys more latitude to introduce emails against Sussmann, but the judge said the scope and membership of the alleged anti-Trump venture was too uncertain to make such a finding.
“The Court will exercise its discretion not to engage in the kind of extensive evidentiary analysis that would be required to find that such a joint venture existed, and who may have joined it,” wrote Cooper, an appointee of former President Barack Obama. “While the Special Counsel has proffered some evidence of a collective effort to disseminate the purported link between Trump and Alfa Bank to the press and others, the contours of this venture and its participants are not entirely obvious.”
In addition, Cooper said he is unlikely to permit evidence that Joffe “accessed some of the data in breach of certain cybersecurity-related contracts he or his companies had with the U.S. government.”
“Evidence of improper data collection by Mr. Joffe or others done without Mr. Sussmann’s knowledge is, at best, only marginally probative of his supposed motive to lie to the FBI,” Cooper wrote. “Moreover, whether Mr. Joffe, who is not on trial, violated the terms of any of his contracts with the government—let alone committed a crime—is the type of collateral issue that risks confusing the jury and distracting from the pertinent issues in the case.”
Whatever those pertinent issues may be, apart from the actions of the Clinton campaign.
Cooper has already been acting as a Clinton lawyer in this case to a disturbing degree.
A federal judge delivered a warning to special counsel John Durham on Thursday after recent court filings became fodder for pro-Trump media and prompted incendiary allegations from the former president himself.
“Keep in mind that the pleadings in this case are under a microscope and may be employed for one reason or another by folks for reasons that have nothing to do with the ultimate issues in this case,” U.S. District Court Judge Christopher Cooper said after offering the attorneys working for Durham a chance to correct any “misinterpretation” of their earlier filings. They declined.