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An attorney for an ex-New York Times reporter being called to testify next week in special counsel John Durham’s case against ex-Hillary Clinton campaign lawyer Michael Sussmann is asking that his client be protected from having to testify about some matters related to the case.
The motion for protective order for journalist Eric Lichtblau was filed Thursday in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia by attorney Chad Bowman of the Washington, D.C., firm Ballard Spahr LLP.
The four-page court document points out that Lichtblau worked for The Times in its Washington bureau from 2002 until 2017 and was part of a Times team that won a Pulitzer Prize in 2018 for reporting on then-President Trump’s advisers and “their connections to Russia.”
Bowman writes in the court request that in 2016 his client was “investigating information showing that logs of computer ‘look up’ messages showed a pattern of connection between a Trump Organization computer server and a large Russian bank with longstanding ties to Russia’s president” and that Sussmann was a “confidential source for this reporting.”
The possible connection between the Trump Organization and the bank, now identified as Alfa Bank, is central to the case against Sussmann, who in September 2016, just weeks before the Election Day between Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton, met with then-FBI general counsel James Baker to warn him about the matter.
However, based on emails and other information, Durham’s investigation and a grand jury has concluded enough evidence exists to show that Sussmann, then a partner at the law firm Perkins Coie, didn’t tell Baker during their meeting he was representing two clients – the Clinton campaign and a technology executive with whom he worked.
The trial is set to begin Monday.
Bowman in the court documents states Sussmann, who has pleaded not guilty, has released his client from a confidentiality agreement regarding their communications and that after Lichtblau was subpoenaed by Sussmann’s legal team to testify he was assured the “scope” of questions wouldn’t “implicate other, confidential news sources.”
However, he writes that on May 2, after several communications with the special counsel’s office, attorney Andrew DeFillipis stated the prosecution was unable to give “any assurance” that their cross-examination of Lichtblau “would be confined to discussion with Mr. Sussmann.”
Bowman said DeFillipis pointed to the special counsel being in possession of his client’s emails with third parties that might be discussed.