Nothing thrills the press like the stench of a budding scandal involving a prominent public figure. And for thirty years Hillary Clinton has been at the top of the media’s hit list, despite never having confirmed a single episode of wrongdoing. And after being out of government service for six years, she remains a prime target of the press.
The latest hysterical outrage was triggered by reports of testimony by former Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook in a case brought to trial by John Durham, the special counsel appointed by Donald Trump’s Attorney General Bill Barr. Durham’s mandate was to vindicate Trump by fabricating phony charges of misconduct related to his unsavory connections to Russia and Vladimir Putin.
The news reports covering Mook’s testimony were mostly wild distortions of the actual facts. Even CNN played into it with a story headlined “Hillary Clinton personally approved plan to share Trump-Russia allegation with the press in 2016, campaign manager says.” However, that is not what Mook’s testimony said at all. After repeating the falsehood in the headline, a more accurate description was given in the article’s opening paragraphs:
“Robby Mook said he attended a meeting with other senior campaign officials where they learned about strange cyberactivity that suggested a relationship between the Trump Organization and Alfa Bank, which is based in Moscow. The group decided to share the information with a reporter, and Mook subsequently ran that decision by Clinton herself. ‘We discussed it with Hillary,’ Mook said, later adding that ‘she agreed with the decision.'”
So what Mook actually said was that the decision was already made and acted upon, and was brought to Clinton after the fact, where she agreed with what had already been done. The stories that say that she “approved the plan” suggest that she was informed in advance and gave it a greenlight. In reality, Clinton merely expressed her agreement, perhaps after her staff had already executed the plan.
What’s worse is that many stories are circulating through the conservative media asserting that Clinton not only gave the plan a go-ahead, but that she contrived it herself and “knew” that it was false. That could not be farther from the truth. The unexplained cyberactivity connecting Trump to the Russian bank was first observed by independent tech investigators. Reports of those observations were later brought to the attention of the Clinton campaign who had every reason to regard them as credible. Mook testified that the campaign passed the information on to the press with the intention that they would investigate and either confirm or refute it.
All of these deliberate distortions of both the cyberactivity, and the Clinton campaign’s role in publicizing it, are part of the right-wing Durham crusade to distract the public from the documented connections between Trump and Russia. They add to prior distortions by Durham and company that Trump used to falsely claim that his campaign had been spied on.
For the record, there were numerous documented contacts between the Trump camp and Russian operatives during and after the 2016 presidential election. And Trump himself publicly asked Russia to interfere in the election by hacking into Clinton’s emails. Many of these activities were catalogued in the book Russian Roulette: The Inside Story of Putin’s War on America and the Election of Donald Trump, by Michael Isikoff and David Corn.
Trump’s doting affinity for Putin is well known. He has spent the past six years fawning over Putin and advancing the interests of Russia. And that extends to the present as Trump takes Putin’s side in the War in Ukraine. Meanwhile, the press is unfairly hammering Clinton who got Trump’s unpatriotic behaviors right all along.
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