By Zachary Stieber
The FBI has a workspace in the same law firm that employed the lawyer who took sketchy Donald Trump-Russia claims to the bureau in 2016, the firm revealed in a new document.
The workspace, known as a Secure Work Environment, at Perkins Coie’s office in Washington was cleared by the FBI on March 26, 2012, and has been “in continuous operation since then,” Michael Bopp, an attorney representing Perkins Coie, told members of Congress in a May 25 letter that was reviewed by The Epoch Times.
What’s more, Michael Sussmann, the lawyer who took the sketchy claims against Trump to the FBI’s nearby headquarters ahead of the 2016 election, had access to the workspace through July 2021, according to the missive.
The workspace was part of a construction project completed in 2011 and includes a General Services Administration-approved security container and a key locker, both of which were paid for by Perkins Coie. It also features a secure telephone, a fax machine, and a security token card, each of which is owned by the bureau.
The workspace is maintained by Perkins Coie and periodically inspected by the FBI to ensure the space “is operating in accordance with the requisite standards,” according to the letter.
“The Democrat Party’s law firm … has this co-located workspace that they operate in concert with the FBI. Why in the world would that be the case?” Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) said on Fox News, which first reported on the letter, which was sent to Gaetz and Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio).
The FBI indicated that the workspace is lawful and that it is meant to shield classified documents from the bulk of workers at Perkins Coie and other companies that have similar spaces.
“The FBI complies with the law and security policies and works with the Department of Justice to serve classified, Court-authorized legal process necessary to support national security investigations,” an FBI spokesperson told The Epoch Times in an email.
“In certain instances, the FBI coordinates with non-government, third-party entities, such as law firms, that represent service providers which receive these classified Court orders. This includes providing access to private attorneys which represent the service providers in satisfaction of their legal rights. As part of this, the FBI ensures that any storage of classified orders meets stringent security protocols required for such documents.”
Gaetz said he consulted with former federal prosecutors, who informed him they had never heard of a similar relationship.
“Our concern is that politically motivated dirt was being converted into politically motivated investigations,” he said. The lawmakers want the facility shut down.
Perkins Coie did not respond to requests for comment. The FBI did not answer when asked if the bureau considered closing the facility.
According to the letter, the facility is operating under a “modified arrangement.” That disclosure came in response to a question about whether the same arrangement remained in place after Sussmann resigned from the firm in September 2021.
Sussmann was charged that month with lying to the FBI. Sussmann handed over data and white papers claiming there was a secret link between Trump’s business and a Russian bank just weeks before the 2016 election. Sussmann was representing the campaign of Hillary Clinton, Trump’s rival, at the time. The FBI determined the data did not support the allegations, and the CIA later reached a similar conclusion. Sussmann told an FBI lawyer he was acting on his own accord, but later told Congress he was acting on behalf of a client. Sussmann was acquitted on May 31.
Sussmann was well-known throughout the FBI. He worked closely with the bureau in its investigation of the intrusion into Democrat entities’ networks and even had an FBI badge that gave him access to the bureau’s headquarters, which he used when meeting with the bureau lawyer.
FBI Director Christopher Wray, a Trump appointee, was pressed during a Senate hearing on May 25 about Sussmann by Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.), who questioned why Sussmann had the badge and why the FBI kept his identity secret from agents who investigated the allegations.
Wray said he couldn’t answer the questions because the trial was not over.
“Because I’ve got agents working with special counsel John Durham on the case, and they’re in the middle of trial right now, I just don’t think I can get into a discussion of that here,” Wray said.