GOP lawmakers hammered former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton after her former campaign manager revealed her central role in disseminating false claims about former President Donald Trump and Russia’s Alfa-Bank during the 2016 presidential election.
Court testimony in the trial of cybersecurity attorney Michael Sussmann revealed that Clinton personally approved the dissemination of later-debunked claims of a secret backchannel between the Trump Organization and Russia’s Alfa-Bank to the press. Clinton’s 2016 campaign manager, Robby Mook, said that the Clinton campaign’s evidence of the backchannel was dubious, but Clinton approved sending it to reporters anyway.
“Hillary Clinton and Jake Sullivan knew the Trump-Russia collusion dossier was false but pretended to play dumb with the American people,” Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) said. Sullivan, currently the White House national security adviser, worked on Clinton’s 2016 campaign as a senior policy adviser.
“Everyone involved in cooking up the false Trump-Russian collusion narrative should be held fully accountable — including Hillary Clinton,” she added.
Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) said in a radio interview over the weekend that Mook’s testimony is a “major scandal” and has shown that Clinton’s involvement in the origins of the Trump-Russia collusion conspiracy theory is greater than previously known, according to The New York Post.
“They used individuals who had contracts with our Defense Department to mine this data and develop some kind of inference that Trump was colluding with Russia so that they could report that to the FBI [which could then] … report that to the American public as an October surprise,” Johnson said.
Special counsel John Durham has argued that Sussmann went to the FBI on behalf of the Clinton campaign to generate a federal investigation into Trump’s alleged connections to Alfa-Bank, and in the process, make the Alfa-Bank story more palatable to reporters. Sussmann, charged with lying to the FBI about representing the Clinton campaign during a 2016 meeting pitching the Alfa-Bank material, has claimed he did not attempt to hide his client despite texting then-FBI general counsel James Baker the day before the meeting requesting that he was not acting on behalf of anyone, according to Baker.
The Clinton campaign used server data gathered by tech executive Rodney Joffe, who had contracted with the federal government to advise it on cybersecurity, to evidence its claim of a backchannel. Both the FBI and CIA looked into the server data and dismissed it as any evidence of a secret backchannel.
“The fact that the Hillary Clinton campaign manufactured this entire Russian collusion hoax and the FBI … concluded that this is preposterous — it’s BS … And yet they set up the Mueller probe,” Johnson said. “Hillary Clinton on the issue of Alfa Bank said, ‘I just heard about this on the news.’ No! Their campaign planted it in the news, and, of course, those news outlets that had the story.”
Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), the ranking member on the House Judiciary Committee, hammered Clinton in a radio interview last week.
“You get [Fusion GPS co-founder] Glenn Simpson to peddle it to the press. You get Michael Sussmann, who’s working for you as your campaign lawyer, to take it to the FBI. And then you act like, oh, we don’t know where this came from,” Jordan said. “We were the ones supposedly peddling disinformation and making things up when in fact, it was them who did it all along. And frankly, the only thing we were kind of wrong about was it was a little bit worse than we even thought. Everyone was in on this.”