Special Counsel Durham seeks private judicial review of redacted, withheld materials in anti-Trump conspiracy case

As part of his investigation into the origins of the false and debunked Trump-Russia collusion narrative, Special Counsel John Durham has alleged a broad conspiracy and related cover-up involving the 2016 Hillary Clinton campaign and several other parties, including and facilitated by the Perkins Coie law firm.

Now Durham is asking a judge to conduct a special review of allegedly fraudulent claims of attorney-client privilege by all parties involved in a bid to continue covering up evidence of the conspiracy, the Washington Examiner reported.

That bombshell allegation came via a legal filing Wednesday in the case of former Clinton campaign attorney Michael Sussmann, who faces a charge of lying to federal investigators about who he was working for as part of the anti-Trump conspiracy.

Time for a private review of redacted and withheld materials

In the 23-page filing from Special Counsel Durham, he called upon the judge to conduct an in-camera review session — meaning in private with no media or public present — in which all parties involved would be compelled to produce unredacted copies of previously subpoenaed communications and documents that have been withheld on claims of attorney-client privilege.

Durham argued that privilege logs and other materials already produced to investigators “raise questions concerning the validity, scope, and extent of the privilege assertions being made here.”

He went on to assert that the Clinton campaign, Democratic National Committee, the Fusion GPS opposition research firm, the Perkins Coie law firm, and others involved in the scheme had all, to some extent, “withheld and/or redacted documents and communications that the government otherwise might seek to admit at trial.”

A dubious theory: Everything is privileged if it flows through a law firm

The apparent reasoning behind the withholding or redactions of those materials was a theory that any opposition research or public relations work done on behalf of the law firm, Perkins Coie, would fall under the classification of attorney-client privilege and therefore be inadmissible in court.

“They have done so despite the fact that almost all of these materials appear to lack any connection to actual or expected litigation or the provision of legal advice,” the filing claimed. “In fact, of the 1,455 documents withheld by [Fusion GPS], only 18 emails and attachments involve an attorney.”

Durham went on to suggest that even if some of the materials truly were privileged and protected, the parties involved had seemingly waived any such privileges by way of public statements, leaks to the media, and prior cooperation with federal law enforcement — albeit under false anti-Trump pretenses — that negated the validity of current and future claims.

Sussmann attorneys seek to block Durham’s request

According to the Examiner, Sussmann’s attorneys anticipated this move by Durham — which one decried as an unfair “ambush” — and preemptively filed a motion of their own asking the judge to specifically preclude Durham from making any references to attorney-client privilege or redactions during the eventual trial.

The argument there is that any such reference in front of a jury risked creating prejudice against Sussmann or an inference that a cover-up was in play — which is pretty much exactly what Durham has inferred and is attempting to uncover and prove by way of review of the redacted and withheld materials.

It will be interesting to see if the judge grants Durham the private review session he has requested and whether the judge will compel the production of unredacted materials in compliance with the subpoenas.

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