Hillary Clinton personally agreed to release information to a reporter in the 2016 presidential campaign about a supposed connection between Donald Trump's campaign and a Russian bank, even though the Clinton team wasn't completely confident the story was true.
That was the testimony Friday from Robby Mook who was Clinton's former presidential campaign manager in 2016.
Mook made that statement during the criminal trial of Clinton campaign lawyer Michael Sussmann. The Sussmann case is part of Special Counsel John Durham's inquiry into what actually happened during the Russiagate investigation of the Trump campaign that year.
Sussmann, 57, is charged with lying to the FBI during a meeting at which he presented the bureau's top lawyer with data that purported to show mysterious contact between computer servers of a Russia-based bank and Trump's company, the Trump Organization, although the Clinton campaign says it never authorized Sussmann to meet with the bureau.
If proven, that information would have been significant given that the FBI at the time was investigating whether the Trump campaign and Russia were coordinating to sway the outcome of the election.
But when the FBI examined the data, it found no secret backchannel and nothing suspicious.
Mook also testified that he talked with Clinton campaign aides John Podesta, Jennifer Palmieri, and Jake Sullivan, who now is President Biden's White House national security advisor, about giving the information to a reporter, before discussing the matter with Clinton, who agreed to the decision.
One of the campaign's staffers sent the information to a reporter at Slate magazine, recognized as a left-leaning online news website.
Slate published a story containing the allegations on Oct. 31, 2016, about the supposed Trump-Russian bank links. Clinton tweeted her campaign's press statement from Sullivan the same day, writing, "Computer scientists have apparently uncovered a covert server linking the Trump Organization to a Russian-based bank."
Computer scientists have apparently uncovered a covert server linking the Trump Organization to a Russian-based bank. pic.twitter.com/8f8n9xMzUU
— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) November 1, 2016
"This could be the most direct link yet between Donald Trump and Moscow," Sullivan alleged in the release.
"This secret hotline may be the key to unlocking the mystery of Trump's ties to Russia. It certainly seems the Trump Organization felt it had something to hide, given that it apparently took steps to conceal the link when it was discovered by journalists," the statement continued.
An 'October Surprise' Before the Election?
The prosecution argued in its opening statement earlier in the week that Sussmann's delivery of the allegations against then-candidate Trump to the FBI was part of the Clinton campaign's plan to create an "October surprise" for the Republican candidate before the election.
In an exclusive interview with Fox News on Saturday, former President Trump called the Russia investigation "one of the greatest political scandals in history," and said the false accusations did permanent damage to his reputation.
"This is one of the greatest political scandals in history," Trump said. "For three years, I had to fight her off, and fight those crooked people off, and you'll never get your reputation fully back."
"Where do I get my reputation back?" Trump repeated.
As CBN News reported in 2019, after a three-year investigation, Special Counsel Robert Mueller released his report that found no evidence of any election conspiracy between Russia and the Trump campaign, but it found plenty of evidence that Russia did interfere for its own purposes.
Mueller said Russian intelligence officers who were part of the Russian military stole private information and released it to interfere in our election and damage a presidential candidate. And a private Russian entity engaged in a social media operation as well to interfere in our political system.
Time Magazine later reported in July of 2019 that Mueller's investigation cost the U.S. government somewhere between $32 million and $35 million.
In an op-ed published by The Wall Street Journal's editorial board on Friday, the board said, "In short, the Clinton campaign created the Trump-Alfa allegation, fed it to a credulous press that failed to confirm the allegations but ran with them anyway, then promoted the story as if it was legitimate news. The campaign also delivered the claims to the FBI, giving journalists another excuse to portray the accusations as serious and perhaps true."
"Most of the press will ignore this news, but the Russia-Trump narrative that Mrs. Clinton sanctioned did enormous harm to the country," the newspaper's editorial board continued. "It disgraced the FBI, humiliated the press, and sent the country on a three-year investigation to nowhere. Vladimir Putin never came close to doing as much disinformation damage."