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EXCLUSIVE: Former President Trump said the revelations out of the trial of former Clinton campaign lawyer Michael Sussmann and his acquittal make him “want to fight even harder,” warning that “if we don’t win, our country is ruined.”
A jury found Sussmann not guilty Tuesday after Special Counsel John Durham charged him with making a false statement to the FBI.
Sussmann, in Sept. 2016, brought information to the FBI alleging a covert communications channel between the Trump Organization and Russia’s Alfa Bank. Durham alleged that Sussmann lied to then-FBI General Counsel James Baker when he said he was bringing those allegations as a citizen concerned with national security.
Michael Sussmann, a cybersecurity lawyer who represented the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign in 2016. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta) ((AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta) )
Durham said Sussmann was acting in his capacity as a lawyer for Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, pointing to billing records revealing that Sussmann charged the campaign repeatedly for his work on compiling the information tying Trump to the Kremlin-linked bank.
When asked if the verdict had any effect on his future political plans, signaling his 2024 campaign plans, Trump quipped: “If anything, it makes me want to fight even harder.”
“If we don’t win, our country is ruined,” Trump said. “We have bad borders, bad elections, and a court system not functioning properly.”
He added: “Our country is being systematically destroyed.”
“They spied on my campaign. They got caught. If a Republican would have done that, and the obvious steps forward, it would be a virtual death penalty,” Trump said during an exclusive interview with Fox News Digital Wednesday.
President Donald Trump walks across the South Lawn as he arrives at the White House in Washington, Friday, April 28, 2017. (President Donald Trump walks across the South Lawn as he arrives at the White House in Washington, Friday, April 28, 2017.)
Key allegations that tied Trump to Russia during the 2016 election and into his presidency and led to the appointment of Special Counsel Robert Mueller originated with individuals linked to Clinton and her presidential campaign, with former officials now questioning why Mueller’s team of seasoned prosecutors didn’t report those connections as part of their years-long probe.
“They had blinders on—they were only looking in one direction,” Trump said. “No matter how far they turned, and saw all of these crimes, they wouldn’t go there.”
He added: “Mueller and everybody else knew what was going on, and they didn’t do anything about it.”
After nearly two years, Mueller’s more-than $30 million investigation yielded no evidence of criminal conspiracy or coordination between the Trump campaign and Russian officials during the 2016 presidential election.
FILE – In this May 29, 2019, file photo, Special counsel Robert Mueller speaks at the Department of Justice in Washington, about the Russia investigation. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, File) (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, File)
During the Sussmann trial — the first trial stemming from Durham’s years-long investigation into the origins of the Trump-Russia probe — Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook testified that Hillary Clinton herself approved the dissemination of unproven and subsequently debunked information to the media alleging a covert communications channel between the Trump Organization and Russia’s Alfa Bank.
“This was totally illegal. What they did was treason, and it also put our country in a lot of danger with Russia,” Trump said.
As for Clinton, Trump said, “She should be ashamed of herself.”
“I think she should be ashamed of herself, and she lost the election. She should be ashamed of herself and so should [Adam] Schiff and all these corrupt politicians,” Trump told Fox News Digital.
Beyond the Trump-Alfa Bank allegations, Clinton-linked officials also pushed and paid for the anti-Trump dossier, which contained allegations of coordination between Trump and the Russian government. It was authored by Christopher Steele, an ex-British intelligence officer.
FILE – In this July 8, 2016, file photo Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks at the African Methodist Episcopal church national convention in Philadelphia. Donald Trump surprised the nation by winning the White House, a victory made possible in part by becoming the first Republican presidential candidate to win Pennsylvania since 1988. The businessman edged Clinton by about 44,000 votes (AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File) (AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)
Clinton campaign general counsel Marc Elias testified as part of the Sussmann trial that he personally hired Fusion GPS — the opposition research firm that commissioned the now-infamous anti-Trump dossier.
The Clinton campaign and the DNC funded the dossier through the law firm Perkins Coie, where both Elias and Sussmann were employed at the time.
The dossier has now been largely discredited.
The Trump-Russia allegations did not only spur federal law enforcement investigations but also congressional ones.
The House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, led by Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., and the Senate Intelligence Committee opened investigations into whether Trump and members of his campaign colluded with Russia to influence the 2016 presidential race.
Special Counsel John Durham. (REUTERS/Julia Nikhinson)
Upon declassification of thousands of pages of transcripts from House Intelligence Committee interviews, Schiff, under pressure from Grenell and House Republicans, ultimately released them. The transcripts revealed, among other things, that top Obama officials acknowledged they had no “empirical evidence” of collusion or a conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russia in the 2016 election. Fox News first reported on the transcripts.
Neither the House nor Senate investigation found evidence of collusion between Trump and Russia.
“Where do you get your reputation back?” Trump asked.
Trump went on to say that former Attorney General Bill Barr should have pushed Durham — whom Barr appointed in April 2019 to investigate the origins of the Trump-Russia probe and then tapped as special counsel — to release findings of his investigation before the 2020 election.
“This should have been put out before so that the voters were able to see what was going on, and they could have voted accordingly,” Trump said.
“Don’t forget—what they did had much more impact on the 2020 election than on the 2016 election, because they did much of this stuff—it was a carry on from before the 2016 election with Russia, Russia, Russia being brought up for three years,” Trump said.
Barr tapped Durham as special counsel in October 2020, but did not make the appointment public until after the 2020 election.
Durham has indicted three people as part of his investigation: Sussmann in September 2021, Igor Danchenko in November 2021 and Kevin Clinesmith in August 2020.
Durham’s investigation is ongoing.
As for Trump’s 2024 plans, the former president told Fox News in November that he plans to make an announcement on his decision on whether or not to run again after the 2022 midterm elections.