Yesterday morning we saw the continued testimony of former FBI general counsel James Baker and Hillary Clinton Campaign manager Robby Mook. (As we previously observed, Mook had already admitted to being briefed on “general updates concerning” Fusion GPS findings – though he has denied knowing who Fusion GPS was.)
I’m traveling this weekend and can’t do the deepest dive into yesterday’s testimony – including that of the CIA agent in the afternoon session – but here are the highlights from Baker and Mook.
The Baker examination, continued.
Baker testified that Sussman did not notify him that the discredited Trump-Russia Alfa Bank allegations had been shared with the New York Times. (For a refresher, here are the transcript excerpts from his Thursday testimony.)
Q: Did he [Sussman] tell you anything about whether he had a client when he went to The New York Times?
A: I guess the answer to that question is no.
Q: And you don’t know, sir, whether they were his clients for purposes of attempting to get this story placed in The New York Times, do you?
A: That’s fair. I do not know that, that’s correct.
Q: You don’t know whether he was working with the Clinton Campaign to do that, do you?
A: I do not.
The Robby Mook testimony.
Robert Mook, Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign manager, also testified before the jury Friday. In his testimony, he stated that Hillary Clinton personally approved a plan to spread the lie that Trump was colluding with Russia via secret servers to the media. He also admitted to being briefed on the conspiracy.
Q: Okay. In connection with the general focus on Mr. Trump and Russia, did there come a time when you learned of potential links between the Trump organization, Mr. Trump’s business, and a Russian bank called Alfa-bank?
A: I did. Yes, I was briefed on that.
Q: Approximately when were you first briefed on that, if you remember?
A: I honestly can’t recall.
Q: Who participated in the briefing, if you remember?
A: Myself, Marc Elias, Jen Palmieri, Jake Sullivan, John Podesta. There might have been others, but those are the ones I definitely recall being there.
Mook also admitted that the Clinton campaign was focused on Trump’s relationship with Russia before Summer of 2016.
Q: In the Summer of 2016, was Mr. Trump’s relationship with Russia something that the campaign focused on?
A: Yes. I mean, it was frankly something we were focused on before that time. But absolutely.
Mook however did deny that the Clinton campaign directed Sussman to go to the FBI, despite admitting that Clinton approved the Trump-Russia allegations to be shared with the media.
Q: Were you aware that Mr. Sussman went to the FBI in September of 2016 to give them a heads-up about a New York Times story about Trump and Alfa-Bank?
Q: Do you have any recollection of anyone talking to you about going to the FBI on behalf of the campaign on the Trump/Alfa-Bank issue?
Q: Did you direct Mr. Sussman to go to the FBI on behalf of the campaign?
A: Absolutely not.
Q: Did you authorize Mr. Sussman to go to the FBI on behalf of the campaign?
Q: Did anyone else from the campaign, to your knowledge, direct or authorize Mr. Sussman to go to the FBI on behalf of the campaign?
A: To my knowledge, no.
Mook also said the decision to push the debunked Russia conspiracy to the media was made by himself, Sussman, John Podesta, and Palmeri, and that Hillary Clinton agreed with the decision.
Q: And once you learned about it [the Trump-Russia allegations], you started discussing with the campaign whether the campaign should affirmatively push it in the media, right?
Q: And you had that discussion with Mr. Sullivan?
Q: With Mr. Podesta?
A: Just to be clear. This is what – I recall those people, correct.
Q: Okay. You had a discussion with Mr. Sullivan?
A: Yes, I recall, yes.
Q: Whether to push it in the media right?
Q: With Ms. Palmieri?
Q: With Mr. Podesta?
Q: But in any event, the decision to provide this to the media was authorized by the campaign, correct?
A: We authorized a staff member of the campaign to provide it to the media.
Regarding Hillary Clinton, Mook said:
Q: Mr. Mook, before the break you had testified that there was a conversation in which you told Ms. Clinton about the proposed plan to provide the Alfa-Bank allegations to the media; is that correct?
Q: And what was her response?
A: All I remember is that she agreed with the decision.
Some final thoughts: while this trial is about Sussmann’s false statements to the FBI, it’s also more than that.
This is Special Counsel John Durham telling the public the story of the Clinton opposition research machine, and how the campaign, through their lawyers and contractors (Fusion GPS), developed and spread lies to the media to influence the election. It’s the story of Clinton Campaign lawyers to using the FBI to further that strategy of deception.
With that in mind, do not forget the Igor Danchenko case. Is it the case that Charles Dolan, a Hillary Clinton friend and supporter, was coincidentally feeding false information to Christopher Steele’s primary sub source?
And on that thread, what are the odds that another Clinton ally – Alexander Downer – took his “info” to the FBI? Downer’s tip was referenced in the opening of the Alfa Bank-Trump investigation, seen below. (Note that the FBI misrepresents both the Downer tip and Mifsud’s purported statement to George Papadopolous.)
Are we to believe the Clinton Campaign and it’s agents had nothing to do with Dolan and Downer? When it comes to the broader Trump/Russia matter, there are too many Clinton links to ignore. Let’s hope that Durham is unraveling that thread.