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Hillary Aware Trump-Russia Bank Connection to Media Was Unverified: Campaign Manager

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OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.


Editor’s note: The original version of this story incorrectly reported that Special Counsel John Durham stated in a court filing that Clinton’s campaign “paid to spy on President Donald Trump” and his 2016 campaign. Durham’s court filing does not mention that Clinton had any involvement in the allegations nor is the word “infiltrated” mentioned, according to a report from PolitiFact. We have removed the incorrect information from our story and regret the error. 

In what is horrific news for former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton one of her top aides has flipped on her.

Her former campaign manager Robby Mook testified on Friday that Clinton personally approved the dissemination to the media of information that alleged there was a back channel of communications between the Trump Organization and Russia’s Alfa Bank to the media, even though officials within her own campaign were not “totally confident” in the legitimacy of the data, Fox News reported.

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It came a day after former FBI General Counsel James Baker testified that the FBI investigated the alleged Trump connection to the Kremlin-linked bank, and discovered that “there was nothing there.”

Mook was called to the stand for testimony by Michael Sussmann’s defense Friday.

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 law firm 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 admitted that he talked with other top campaign officials regarding whether he should give the information to a reporter, including former campaign chairman John Podesta, communications director Jennifer Palmieri, and the man who was Clinton’s senior policy advisor and is now White House National Security Adviser, Jake Sullivan.

“I discussed it with Hillary as well,” he said in 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,” he said.

Prosecutors asked Mook if Clinton personally approved “the dissemination” of the information to the media.

“She agreed,” he said.

Later he testified that he “can’t recall the exact sequence of events,” when he was asked if he shared the idea to give the information to the media with Clinton before or after the decision was made.

“All I remember is that she agreed with the decision,” he said.

He was also asked if Clinton approved of her former campaign attorney Michael Sussman going to the FBI with the information to get an investigation started.

“I’m not aware,” he said: “I don’t know…I don’t know why she would.”

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U.S. District Judge Christopher Cooper last month ruled that he would not allow a tweet on the matter to be submitted as evidence, but on Friday after prosecutors asked again he agreed.

“Donald Trump has a secret server,” she said in a tweet. “It was set up to communicate privately with a Putin-tied Russian bank.”

“Computer scientists have apparently uncovered a covert server linking the Trump Organization to a Russian-based bank,” she said in another tweet.

The Democrat 2016 presidential candidate then shared a statement by President Joe Biden’s current national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, who was then her campaign advisor.

“This could be the most direct link yet between Donald Trump and Moscow,” he said. “This secret hotline may be the key to unlocking the mystery of Trump’s ties to Russia.”

“We can only assume that federal authorities will now explore this direct connection between Trump and Russia,” he said.

But Judge Cooper, who was appointed by former President Obama, said he would dismiss the tweets as “as hearsay” and that “it’s likely duplicative of other evidence.”

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Durham argued that the tweets should be allowed as evidence because Clinton had presented them as “truth” and because they “show the existence of the defendant’s attorney-client relationship with the Clinton Campaign, which is directly relevant to the false statement charge.”

But Sussman’s attorneys argued against that.

“The tweet, which was posted on October 31, 2016, does not reveal anything about Mr. Sussmann’s state of mind over a month earlier, when he purportedly made the alleged false statement,” it said.

“There is a real danger that if the tweet were admitted, the jury would believe that Hillary Clinton herself was part of the Special Counsel’s uncharged conspiracy and that she had a direct interest or involvement in Mr. Sussmann’s efforts.

“Drawing the candidate herself into this matter in this way would be unfair to Mr. Sussmann,” they said.

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