Hillary Clinton personally signed off on her campaign’s plans in fall 2016 to share information with a reporter about an uncorroborated alleged server backchannel between Donald Trump and a top Russian bank, her former campaign manager testified Friday in federal court.
Federal investigators ultimately concluded there weren’t any improper Trump-Alfa cyber links.
Robby Mook said he attended a meeting with other senior campaign officials where they learned about strange cyber activity that they claimed showed a relationship between the Trump Organization and Alfa Bank, which is based in Moscow. The group decided to share the information with a reporter, and Mook subsequently ran that decision by Hillary Clinton herself.
“We discussed it with Hillary,” Mook said, later adding that “she agreed with the decision.”
A campaign staffer later passed the information to a reporter from Slate magazine, which the campaign hoped the reporter would “vet it out, and write what they believe is true,” Mook said.
Slate published a story on October 31, 2016, raising questions about the odd Trump-Alfa cyber links. After that story came out, Clinton tweeted about it, and posted a news release that said, “This secret hotline may be the key to unlocking the mystery of Trump’s ties to Russia.
“The testimony came in the criminal trial of Clinton campaign lawyer Michael Sussmann, who is being prosecuted by the Trump-era special counsel John Durham. Durham is investigating potential misconduct tied to the FBI’s Trump-Russia probe. The trial has shed light on the dark arts of political opposition research — and how campaigns dig up dirt and plant stories in the press.