This week, Baker testified in great detail regarding Sussmann’s alleged deception. This is how Hillary Clinton approved the Alfa Bank plot.
According to her campaign manager, Hillary Clinton personally signed off on distributing since-debunked Trump-Russia accusations relating to Alfa-Bank with the media during the 2016 presidential election.
Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook said Friday that Clinton campaign general counsel Marc Elias “briefed about the Alfa-Bank issue first” in the summer of 2016. He claimed that the campaign leadership had a brief meeting to discuss whether or not to disclose the material with the media, which they did. According to Mook, other attendees included campaign chairman John Podesta, communications director Jennifer Palmieri, and policy adviser Jake Sullivan (currently President Joe Biden’s national security adviser).
“We discussed it and then made that decision” he stated, adding that “we did” choose to disclose the allegations with a reporter. When questioned about the highest level of authorization for pushing the Alfa-Bank accusations to the press by a prosecutor on special counsel John Durham’s team, Mook said that “John and I were involved,” but that “I discussed it with Hillary as well” after the campaign staff had discussed it. “Hey, you know, we have this, and we want to share it with a reporter.” Mook says he told Clinton. “She agreed to that.” Mook stated.
When asked what else Clinton said, Durham prosecutor Andrew DeFilippis answered, “all I remember is that she agreed with the decision” to release the Alfa-Bank allegations with the media. “She thought we made the right decision,” Mook added.
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Whether Clinton was providing final consent or approving something the campaign had previously done, Mook claimed he could not recall “the exact sequence of events.”
The Clinton campaign manager said he, Sullivan, Podesta, and Palmieri were all involved in the decision on whether and how to share the information with the media, and he said his decision was unanimous The “hope was that they were gonna run it down and it would be accurate or substantive and then they would report it.” He admitted, “I don’t recall ever asking a reporter to hold off on this.”
When questioned how the Alfa-Bank allegations were forwarded to the media, Mook stated, “I recall it being a member of our press staff.” “We authorized a staff member to share it with the media.”
When the decision was taken to release the Alfa-Bank assertions with the press, Mook stated he was skeptical of their credibility, but stated the media would assist verify the information. “We wanted the American people to know about it, yeah,” Mook said when DeFilippis asked if the campaign was glad the claims were made public.
In September, Democratic cybersecurity lawyer Michael Sussmann was indicted for supposedly trying to conceal his clients, Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign and “Tech Executive-1,” former Neustar executive Rodney Joffe, from FBI General Counsel James Baker when he tried to push since-debunked assertions of a secret back channel between the Trump Organization and Russia’s Alfa-Bank. Sussmann has registered a not guilty plea.
On Friday, Mook was summoned as a defense witness.
“On or about September 15, 2016, Campaign Lawyer-1 exchanged emails with the Clinton Campaign’s campaign manager, communications director, and foreign policy advisor concerning the Russian Bank-1 allegations that Sussmann had recently shared with Reporter-1,” according to the Durham indictment. Durham wrote that “Campaign Lawyer-1 billed his time for this correspondence” to the Clinton campaign, with the billing entry of “email correspondence with [name of foreign policy advisor], [name of campaign manager], [name of communications director] re: [Russian Bank-1] Article.”
Mook was her campaign manager, Palmieri was her communications director, Sullivan was her foreign policy adviser, and Elias was her top lawyer.
Elias hired Fusion GPS, an opposition research firm that hired British ex-spy Christopher Steele in 2016. Elias stated that he was conscious of Fusion’s intentions to have Steele brief media on his anti-Trump investigation throughout the 2016 campaign, that he spoke with Steele during the campaign, and that he briefed the campaign on Fusion and Steele’s findings on a regular basis. Sussmann also spoke with Steele in 2016 and presented him with specific Alfa-Bank claims, which Steele then presented to the US government.
“Computer scientists have apparently uncovered a covert server linking the Trump Organization to a Russian-based bank,” Clinton posted on Halloween in 2016. She sent a long statement from Sullivan headlined “New Report Exposing Trump’s Secret Line of Communication to Russia.”
“This secret hotline may be the key to unlocking the mysteries of Trump’s ties to Russia,” Sullivan stated in part, continuing, “This could be the most direct link yet between Donald Trump and Moscow.”
“We can only assume that 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,” Sullivan added. In 2017, he continued to promote the Alfa-Bank accusations on television.
The court initially refused to allow the Clinton tweet to be submitted as evidence, but it was revealed to the jury on Friday during Mook’s testimony. The judge said the version of the post entered into evidence would be redacted, including the part of the tweet implying a federal inquiry.
Sussmann’s meeting with the FBI, according to the Durham team, was driven by his desire to create an “October surprise” that would derail Trump’s campaign.
DeFilippis constantly inquired about Mook’s definition of an “October surprise.” ““it’s when you have a piece of opposition research that is so damning that the opponent doesn’t have time to respond and they lose the election,” he remarked. Mook said, “The idea is you have damning information about your opponent, you give it to the media, and then they run with it.” He also said that “I think it’s a bit of a myth” and “a bit of a fantasy.”
“It was certainly alarming and suspicious,” Mook said when the prosecutor asked if he thought the Alfa-Bank assertions were damning. “Well, it says here, October 31, 2016,” Mook responded when DeFilippis asked him to read the date the tweet was published.
Sussmann lawyer Michael Bosworth tried to defuse the situation by asking Mook for an example of an October surprise, to which he answered, “I can’t think of a time when it’s happened in my career.” Mook claimed the Alfa-Bank report came as a complete surprise to him in October.
“I don’t recall,” Mook said when asked if the Clinton campaign discussion about sharing the Alfa-Bank accusations with the press was about discussing it with the New York Times in September 2016 or with Slate in October 2016.
Researchers discovered “a sustained relationship between a server registered to the Trump Organization and two servers registered to an entity called Alfa-Bank,” according to Slate’s Franklin Foer. “The FBI ultimately concluded that there could be an innocuous explanation, like a marketing email or spam,” said Eric Lichtblau of the New York Times in a story.
According to Durham’s files, Foer and Lichtblau also emailed with Fusion about the Alfa-Bank allegations in 2016.
Mook examined the full Slate story at the behest of the defense lawyer, looking for any indication of an FBI inquiry, and he remarked, “I don’t see the FBI mentioned.”
“I definitely did not delegate to Perkins Coie to do politics. To do press,” Mook testified, adding that he “deferred” to Perkins on legal advice and “overseas” operations. When questioned if Perkins required his approval to go to law enforcement, Mook answered “it depends,” but that he would have “expected” Perkins to ask for his consent.
“I’m not aware” of Clinton giving the campaign permission to go to the FBI, he said, adding, “I don’t know why she would.”
This week, Baker testified in great detail regarding Sussmann’s alleged deception. The FBI’s former top lawyer also testified in court about how the defendant’s allegations sparked an instant perception of immediacy among the bureau’s highest levels to start investigating the Trump-Russia back channel assertions, how the Alfa-Bank arguments were quickly dismissed as completely unfounded within the bureau, and how the bureau is concerned about reporters writing stories based on the existence of FBI investigations in situations where the press is not confident about the allegations and so uses the FBI as a hook.
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