Hillary Clinton's former campaign manager said in court May 20 that she approved sharing debunked allegations linking former President Donald Trump to a Russian bank to the media during the lead-up to the 2016 election, according to the Daily Mail.
Robby Mook said during the trial of Michael Sussman, who is was indicted by Special Counsel John Durham as part of a Russia origins probe, that he was told of the accusations of Trump being linked to Alfa Bank by campaign general counsel Marc Elias.
Mook said he also talked to then-senior advisor Jake Sullivan and campaign chairman John Podesta about the idea of leaking the false information to a reporter, the Daily Mail reports. "I discussed it with Hillary as well," Mook told the court.
Mook said in court that at the time they weren't "totally confident in the legitimacy of the data," though they had hoped a reporter would follow up and determine whether it was "accurate" or "substantive." "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," Mook said.
A message from Clinton saying "Computer scientists have apparently uncovered a covert server linking the Trump Organization to a Russian-based bank" was also shown to the court. The message included a statement from Sullivan called "Exposing Trump's Secret Line of Communication to Russia."
Sussman is in court accused of lying to the FBI about representing Clinton's 2016 campaign interests and that of another campaign. However, the campaign claims it never authorized Sussman's actions.
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Sussman met with then-FBI general counsel James Baker in September 2016 to show him computer data that supposedly linked Alfa Bank to the Trump Organization. Prosecutors say Sussman lied by saying he wasn't presenting the computer data for a particular client.
Prosecutors say Sussman was vague about his relationship with Clinton because he figured the FBI would consider the data less credible if it was coming from a partisan client, the Daily Mail reports. The defense argues that it's impossible to prove what was said in the meeting since Sussman and Baker were the only ones there and neither took notes.
A day earlier, Baker testified that he was "100 percent confident" that Sussman told him that he was not meeting with him for a particular client. "Michael's a friend of mine and a colleague, and I believed it and I trusted that the statement was truthful," he said.
The FBI was already investigating whether or not Trump was coordinating with Russia to affect the outcome of the 2016 election when Sussman presented the data, according to the Daily Mail.
The FBI ran the data from Sussman up the ladder, which proved to have no merit. There was, Baker said, "nothing there."