May 20, 2022 – Sussmann trial: Day 5 – Robby Mook testifies Hillary approved Trump Russian bank allegations to the media

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An ecstatic Hillary Clinton celebrates at the conclusion of the Democratic National Convention where she accepted the nomination on Thursday, July 28, 2016. (Credit: Ben Lowy/ Time)

“Failed presidential candidate Hillary Clinton approved a plan during the 2016 campaign to feed false allegations of Trump-Russia collusion to the media, her campaign manager said Friday.

Testifying to a federal court in the trial of Clinton campaign lawyer Michael Sussmann, Robby Mook noted that Clinton signed off on a scheme to send journalists data about possible links between Donald Trump and Russia’s Alfa Bank. The effort was successful, as a news outlet just days before the election published a story that alleged covert connections between Trump and the bank. The allegation has since been debunked, with the FBI finding there was not a nefarious link between Trump and Alfa Bank.

Mook’s testimony is the first confirmation that Clinton was involved in the decision to give the Trump-Alfa Bank story to journalists. Mook said that campaign leaders “weren’t totally confident in” the allegations and wanted to share them with reporters to investigate further. Mook said he discussed the strategy with Clinton, who okayed the plan.

Slate on Oct. 31, 2016, published a report that said a team of anonymous computer researchers had discovered that Trump’s real estate company, the Trump Organization, had a secret communications channel with Alfa Bank. Unmentioned in the story was that the computer researchers were collaborating with Sussmann and other political operatives working for the Clinton campaign.

Mook was asked at the trial to read a statement Clinton released that touted the Slate story. Clinton wrote that “computer scientists have apparently uncovered a covert server linking the Trump Organization to a Russian-based bank.” She linked to a statement from Jake Sullivan, her foreign policy adviser, that said the story “could be the most direct link yet between Donald Trump and Moscow.” (Read more: Washington Free Beacon, 5/20/2022)  (Archive)

UPDATE May 21, 2022

Techno Fog includes a transcript of Mook’s testimony. Dates are put in bold by the timeline editor.

The Robby Mook testimony.

Robert Mook, Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign manager, also testified before the jury Friday. In his testimony, he stated that Hillary Clinton personally approved a plan to spread the lie that Trump was colluding with Russia via secret servers to the media. He also admitted to being briefed on the conspiracy.

Q: Okay. In connection with the general focus on Mr. Trump and Russia, did there come a time when you learned of potential links between the Trump organization, Mr. Trump’s business, and a Russian bank called Alfa-bank?

A: I did. Yes, I was briefed on that.

Q: Approximately when were you first briefed on that, if you remember?

A: I honestly can’t recall.

Q: Who participated in the briefing, if you remember?

A: Myself, Marc Elias, Jen Palmieri, Jake Sullivan, John Podesta. There might have been others, but those are the ones I definitely recall being there.

Mook also admitted that the Clinton campaign was focused on Trump’s relationship with Russia before Summer of 2016.

Q: In the Summer of 2016, was Mr. Trump’s relationship with Russia something that the campaign focused on?

A: Yes. I mean, it was frankly something we were focused on before that time. But absolutely.

Mook however did deny that the Clinton campaign directed Sussman to go to the FBI, despite admitting that Clinton approved the Trump-Russia allegations to be shared with the media.

Q: Were you aware that Mr. Sussman went to the FBI in September of 2016 to give them a heads-up about a New York Times story about Trump and Alfa-Bank?

A: No.

Q: Do you have any recollection of anyone talking to you about going to the FBI on behalf of the campaign on the Trump/Alfa-Bank issue?

A: No.

Q: Did you direct Mr. Sussman to go to the FBI on behalf of the campaign?

A: Absolutely not.

Q: Did you authorize Mr. Sussman to go to the FBI on behalf of the campaign?

A: No.

Q: Did anyone else from the campaign, to your knowledge, direct or authorize Mr. Sussman to go to the FBI on behalf of the campaign?

A: To my knowledge, no.

Mook also said the decision to push the debunked Russia conspiracy to the media was made by him, Sussman, John Podesta, and Palmeri, and that Hillary Clinton agreed with the decision.

Q: And once you learned about it [the Trump-Russia allegations], you started discussing with the campaign whether the campaign should affirmatively push it in the media, right?

A: Correct.

Q: And you had that discussion with Mr. Sullivan?

A: Correct.

Q: With Mr. Podesta?

A: Just to be clear. This is what – I recall those people, correct.

Q: Okay. You had a discussion with Mr. Sullivan?

A: Yes, I recall, yes.

Q: Whether to push it in the media right?

A: Correct.

Q: With Ms. Palmieri?

A: Correct.

Q: With Mr. Podesta?

A: Correct.

Q: But in any event, the decision to provide this to the media was authorized by the campaign, correct?

A: We authorized a staff member of the campaign to provide it to the media.

Regarding Hillary Clinton, Mook said:

Q: Mr. Mook, before the break you had testified that there was a conversation in which you told Ms. Clinton about the proposed plan to provide the Alfa-Bank allegations to the media; is that correct?

A: Correct.

Q: And what was her response?

A: All I remember is that she agreed with the decision.

Some final thoughts: while this trial is about Sussmann’s false statements to the FBI, it’s also more than that.

This is Special Counsel John Durham telling the public the story of the Clinton opposition research machine, and how the campaign, through their lawyers and contractors (Fusion GPS), developed and spread lies to the media to influence the election. It’s the story of Clinton Campaign lawyers to using the FBI to further that strategy of deception. (Read more: Techno Fog, 5/21/2022)  (Archive)

Day 5 of the Durham Prosecution against Hillary Clinton’s former campaign lawyer, Michael Sussmann continues with two witnesses: former FBI General Counsel James Baker and Hillary Clinton Campaign Manager Robbie Mook.

Timecodes: 00:00:00 – Intro 00:00:54 – Mindmap Overview 00:05:00 – Elon Musk Tweets 00:07:59 – Afternoon Session Transcript (Sussmann Trial Day 4) 00:10:01 – Witness James Baker (Direct Examination Continued) 00:40:55 – Witness James Baker (Cross-Examination) 01:24:20 – Superchats 01:28:23 – Morning Session Transcript (Sussmann Trial Day 5) 01:29:20 – Witness James Baker (Cross-Examination Continued) 01:41:54 – Witness James Baker (Redirect Examination) 01:44:47 – Defense Witness Robbie Mook (Direct Examination) 02:03:20 – Defense Witness Robbie Mook (Cross-Examination) 02:45:16 – Defense Witness Robbie Mook (Redirect Examination) 02:52:45 – Recap & Conclusion (Sussmann Trial Day 5)

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