During testimony in the trial of former Clinton campaign lawyer Michael Sussmann -- who has been accused of lying to the FBI -- campaign manager Robby Mook said Clinton personally approved of 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.
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.”
In addition, the former campaign manager said that he discussed passing along the information to a reporter with other 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 told the court.
“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 noted.
After he was pressed about Clinton’s response, Mook replied: “She agreed.”
Further questioned by Durham prosecutor Andrew DeFilippis on what else the former first lady and U.S. senator said, Mook replied that “all I remember is that she agreed with the decision" to share the Alfa-Bank claims with the media, adding that “she thought we made the right decision.”
Even though she knew good and well the claim was a lie.
Mook went on to testify that he, Sullivan, Podesta and Palmieri all discussed how to get the false information to the media, adding that it was his "hope was that they were gonna run it down and it would be accurate or substantive and then they would report it.” He then admitted: “I don’t recall ever asking a reporter to hold off on this.”
“I recall it being a member of our press staff," Mook said when asked how the Alfa-Bank claims were pushed out to media sources. “We authorized a staff member to share it with the media.”
He then said he had little confidence that the claim was true about the Alfa Bank times when the decision was made to share it with media sources. However, he claimed that he believed the media would vet the information (which itself is a lie -- the media doesn't 'vet' like-minded Democratic candidates and they certainly weren't going to 'vet' Hillary because they all believed she would be the next president).
DeFilippis asked if the campaign was pleased the allegations were published, and Mook responded, “We wanted the American people to know about it, yeah.”
We are not naive enough to believe Hillary Clinton will ever go to jail for any of this. But she should be made to repay the tens of millions of dollars spent investigating this lie -- by Congress, by the FBI and by special counsels.