Tesla CEO Elon Musk ripped former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Friday after testimony in the criminal trial of her former campaign attorney revealed that she approved pushing unfounded claims of Trump/Russia collusion to reporters.
Musk is in negotiations to purchase the social media platform Twitter in a $44 billion deal. He has rankled many on the Democratic side of the aisle in recent weeks with his promises to protect free speech on the platform, as well as with his criticisms of the Democratic Party and leftists.
On Friday, he responded to an account flagging a 2016 Clinton tweet on false Trump/Russia collusion claims as “disinformation.”
“You are absolutely correct. That tweet is a Clinton campaign hoax for which their campaign lawyer is undergoing a criminal trial,” Musk said, referring to the trial of cybersecurity attorney Michael Sussmann that began in Washington, D.C., on Monday.
In a follow-up tweet, Musk challenged Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal and Twitter general counsel Vijaya Gadde over the false 2016 claim. “What say you?” Musk asked. The Tesla CEO has been an outspoken critic of Twitter’s censorship policies throughout negotiations.
Sussmann is being tried on one count of lying to the FBI during a September 2016 meeting with then-FBI general counsel James Baker, who joined Twitter’s legal team in June 2020. Prosecutors say Sussmann, who was an attorney at Perkins Coie at the time, hid that he was working on behalf of two clients — the Clinton presidential campaign and tech executive Rodney Joffe — from Baker, who claims that Sussmann approached him as a concerned citizen.
Sussmann has denied the charge, arguing that he never lied to Baker and, even if he did, his false statement had no impact on how the FBI handled the information he presented.
The Clinton tweet in question was entered into evidence during the Sussmann trial on Friday after Clinton’s 2016 campaign manager, Robby Mook, read the tweet in front of the jury. Mook testified that top staffers in the Clinton campaign, with Clinton’s explicit approval, pushed unsubstantiated claims of a backchannel between the Trump Organization and Russia’s Alfa-Bank to reporters.
“I discussed it with Hillary as well,” Mook testified. “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.”
“She agreed,” he said.
Sussmann eventually took the Alfa-Bank claim to the FBI to, as prosecutors allege, help convince skeptical reporters to run the story. According to prosecutors, Sussmann billed the Clinton campaign for the meeting with Baker.
Musk claims to have only heard about the scandal last month. He “was blown away,” he said.
Musk stated that he supported Clinton during the 2016 election before he knew of the false claims her campaign was alleging against former President Donald Trump. “I donated to & voted for Hillary, so am doubly pissed off about those funds being used for lying,” Musk said.
In another tweet, Musk reacted with apparent surprise when told that the former CFO of the 2016 Clinton campaign, Gary Gensler, now chairs the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, which has investigated Musk multiple times and is currently looking into him again over the disclosure of his Twitter stake.
The SEC fined the 2016 Clinton campaign $8,000 in March for misreporting its funding of the notorious Steele dossier during the campaign as “legal services” and “legal and compliance consulting.”
“Sus man,” Musk said in another post, an apparent play on the name of the former Clinton campaign attorney Sussmann.
“Bet most people still don’t know that a Clinton campaign lawyer, using campaign funds, created an elaborate hoax about Trump and Russia. Makes you wonder what else is fake,” he said in another Twitter post. Responding to another user, Musk confirmed “I am indeed out for blood” after ripping into the Clinton campaign and noting the unraveling of the Russia collusion conspiracy.