Michael Sussmann, Lawyer Accused of Lying in F.B.I. Meeting, Pleads Not Guilty

A prominent cybersecurity lawyer pleaded not guilty on Friday to a charge of lying to the F.B.I. during a meeting five years ago about possible links between Donald J. Trump and Russia.

The lawyer, Michael A. Sussmann, appeared before a magistrate judge in Washington, where he was indicted a day earlier. After a brief hearing, he was released on certain conditions, including travel restrictions.

The indictment centers on whether Mr. Sussmann lied about who he was representing at a September 2016 meeting with a top F.B.I. lawyer. At that meeting, Mr. Sussmann provided analysis by cybersecurity researchers who said that unusual internet data might indicate a covert communications channel between computer servers associated with the Trump Organization and with Alfa Bank, a Kremlin-linked financial institution.

The indictment says Mr. Sussmann falsely told the F.B.I. lawyer that he had no clients, but he was really representing both a technology executive and the Hillary Clinton campaign. Mr. Sussmann’s lawyers deny that he ever said he had no clients, and contend that he was there on behalf of only the executive and not Mrs. Clinton’s campaign.

The F.B.I. looked into the concerns about Alfa Bank but found insufficient evidence to support them, and the special counsel who later took over the Russia investigation, Robert S. Mueller III, ignored the matter in his final report.

Mr. Sussmann is a former computer crimes prosecutor who worked for the Justice Department for 12 years. In 2016, he represented the Democratic National Committee on issues related to Russia’s hacking of its servers.

Mr. Sussmann’s lawyers have accused the special counsel, John H. Durham, of seeking an indictment of their client for political reasons. Mr. Durham was tapped in 2019 by Trump administration officials to review the F.B.I.’s investigation after the president and his allies cast doubt on its legitimacy and the Justice Department’s inspector general found major problems with one aspect of the inquiry — wiretapping surveillance applications — and in one related instance, criminal conduct.

In the weeks before the presidential election, then-Attorney General William P. Barr appointed Mr. Durham as special counsel, ensuring the inquiry would continue no matter who won the White House. In a news release announcing the indictment on Thursday, the Justice Department said Mr. Durham’s investigation was continuing.

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