Despite the best efforts by the D.C. establishment and its judges, the Sussman trial is moving forward and with that comes closer scrutiny of the Clinton campaign.
The manager of Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential bid, Robby Mook, testified Friday that the campaign did not instruct or authorize a lawyer to go to the FBI with claims of a potential data link between then-candidate Donald Trump and a Russian bank owned by allies of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
That lawyer — former Perkins Coie partner Michael Sussmann — is on trial in federal court in Washington on a felony false-statement charge brought by special counsel John Durham, who claims Sussmann lied to the FBI when he said he was not acting on behalf of any client in relaying indications and internet data stream between a Trump-related server and one for Moscow-based Alfa Bank.
That particular smear, both discredited and explosive, is not the one most people are familiar with, but has shown how far the Clinton campaign was willing to go.
Mook is denying any connection to it. But here’s the buried lede.
Mook said he had no knowledge of Clinton approving Sussmann to go to the FBI with the server information on behalf of the campaign.
“I don’t see why she would,” he said.
Having no knowledge is a different animal.
Mook confirmed that top campaign officials were aware of the Alfa Bank “secret server” allegations in the summer and fall of 2016, but said they favored handing them off to a reporter.
“Going to the FBI does not seem like a very effective way to get that information out to the public. We do that through the media,” he said.
Mook said that after discussions at the highest levels of the campaign, they decided to do just that. He also said that somewhere around that time he informed Clinton personally and she concurred.
“I discussed it with Hillary as well,” Mook said. “She agreed to that. … She thought we made the right decision.”
Seemingly, Hillary signed off on the media end of the smear campaign.
But what Mook’s really saying is that he was not in on the serious opposition research end of things anyway.
However, Mook said he didn’t know during the campaign a private investigation firm called Fusion GPS was doing opposition research for Hillary’s bid through the law firm.
“I was not aware during the campaign of anyone they were engaging to do that work,” Mook said. “I did not know that they had been retained.”
If Mook is telling the truth, then he wasn’t on that part of the loop anyway. But there’s no reason to think that Hillary and her people weren’t. So as a defense witness, Mook just serves the purpose of drawing a line between the campaign and its darker operations. That’s the next step. The shadow campaign that spawned Russiagate.