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Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton personally approved the dissemination of a fabricated link between her 2016 opponent, GOP nominee Donald Trump, to the media, according to testimony from her campaign manager, Robby Mook.
In Friday’s testimony, Mook said Clinton personally signed off on the allegation that there was a covert electronic communications backchannel between the Trump Organization and Russia’s Alfa Bank, even though campaign officials admitted they were not “totally confident” the information was accurate.
Mook was called to testify by the defense team for former campaign attorney Michael Sussmann, who has been charged with one count of lying to FBI general counsel James Baker during a September 2016 meeting in which Sussmann claimed he was not there on behalf of any client, though he was working for Clinton’s campaign at the time.
Fox News adds:
During cross-examination by government prosecutor Andrew DeFillippis Friday, Mook was asked about the campaign’s understanding of the Alfa Bank allegations against Trump and whether they planned to release the data to the media.
Mook said he was first briefed about the Alfa Bank issue by campaign general counsel Marc Elias, who at the time was a partner at lawfirm Perkins Coie.
Mook testified that he was told that the data had come from “people that had expertise in this sort of matter.”
Mook said the campaign was not totally confident in the legitimacy of the data, but had hoped to give the information to a reporter who could further “run it down” to determine if it was “accurate” or “substantive.”
He also said that he talked about whether to pass along the information to a reporter with senior campaign officials including the campaign’s chairman, John Podesta, then-communications director Jennifer Palmieri, and senior policy adviser Jake Sullivan, the latter of whom now serves as President Joe Biden’s national security adviser.
“I discussed it with Hillary as well,” Mook said.
“I don’t remember the substance of the conversation, but notionally, the discussion was, hey, we have this and we want to share it with a reporter,” Mook said.
After being pressed about Clinton’s response, Mook said, “She agreed.”
In addition to claiming that Sussmann was working on behalf of Clinton when he met with Baker, special prosecutor John Durham also said that Sussmann was working on behalf of another client as well, technology executive Rodney Joffe. After he met with Baker, Sussmann billed the Clinton campaign.
Sussmann has pleaded not guilty to the charge.
“The government moved to admit a tweet from Clinton dated Oct. 31, 2016, as evidence, despite U.S. District Judge Christopher Cooper ruling last month that the court would exclude that tweet as hearsay,” Fox News noted further.
On Friday, however, Cooper granted the government’s request to admit the Clinton tweet into evidence, which stated: “Computer scientists have apparently uncovered a covert server linking the Trump Organization to a Russian-based bank.” The tweet included a screengrab of a statement about the matter from Sullivan on behalf of Clinton’s campaign.
Computer scientists have apparently uncovered a covert server linking the Trump Organization to a Russian-based bank. pic.twitter.com/8f8n9xMzUU
— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) November 1, 2016
“This could be the most direct link yet between Donald Trump and Moscow. Computer scientists have uncovered a covert server linking the Trump Organization to a Russian-based bank,” said the Sullivan statement, adding that the “secret hotline may be the key to unlocking the mystery of Trump’s ties to Russia.”
“This line of communication may help explain Trump’s bizarre adoration of Vladimir Putin and endorsement of so many pro-Kremlin positions throughout this campaign,” the statement continued. “It raises even more troubling questions in light of Russia’s masterminding of hacking efforts that are clearly intended to hurt Hillary Clinton’s campaign.”
The former campaign adviser added that they “can only assume federal authorities will now explore this direct connection between Trump and Russia as part of their existing probe into Russia’s meddling in our elections.”
All allegations of the allegedly nefarious Trump-Russia ties have been debunked.