• Former Perkins Coie partner Michael Sussmann was acquired after a trial last year
  • He is joining law firm Fenwick & West in Washington, DC

April 3 (Reuters) – Michael Sussmann, a cybersecurity lawyer who was acquitted last year of allegations that he lied to the FBI during a meeting about purported ties between former President Donald Trump and Russia, joined the cybersecurity and privacy practice at US law firm Fenwick & West, the firm said Monday.

The move marks a return to practice for Sussmann, who resigned from law firm Perkins Coie after he was instructed by US Special Counsel John Durham in 2021.

He will help clients respond to state-sponsored cyberattacks and data breaches as well as government investigations, Fenwick & West said.

Sussmann said in a statement that joining Fenwick & West was a “natural choice” because of the Silicon Valley-founded firm’s track record of working with “some of the biggest global innovators.”

Sussmann was charged with lying about his client representations during a September 2016 meeting with then-FBI general counsel James Baker when he shared allegations about internet data purportedly linking the Trump Organization and a Russian-based bank. The FBI later deemed the allegations unfounded.

Durham, whose probe investigating possible misconduct in the FBI’s investigation of connections between Trump’s 2016 campaign and Russia remains ongoing, alleging that Sussmann claimed not to be representing any client during the meeting when he was working on behalf of Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign and other cybersecurity clients.

Sussmann denied the allegations, and a jury in Washington found him not guilty following a May 2022 trial.

Sussmann is a former federal prosecutor who worked in the Computer Crime & Intellectual Property Section of the US Justice Department prior to joining Perkins Coie as a cybersecurity partner.

Criminal prosecutions of partners at major law firms are rare, and it’s still more unusual for reputation-conscious firms to hire one-time criminal defendants.

Fenwick & West did not respond to an interview request. The firm said in a statement that Sussmann’s experience would be an asset as clients face “unprecedented issues around the protection and use of data.”

While at Perkins Coie, Sussmann represented Twitter Inc as the social media company battled the US government to share more details about requests for private user information.

In 2016, he helped the Democratic National Committee respond to cyberattacks that the US government has said were carried out by hackers linked to the Russian government. He also represented the Clinton campaign in trying to promote allegations about possible Trump-Russia ties to media outlets, but his lawyers said the FBI meeting was motivated by concerns about US national security.

Reporting by Andrew Goudsward

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By zonxe