Elon Musk Dubs Hillary Clinton’s Russiagate Tweet a ‘Campaign Hoax’
10:09 GMT 21.05.2022 (Updated: 15:19 GMT 28.05.2023)
On Thursday, ex-FBI General Counsel James Baker testified at the trial of Hillary Clinton campaign lawyer Michael Sussmann that the intelligence agency had found no evidence of a covert communications channel between former US President Donald Trump and a Russian bank, as was earlier claimed by Sussmann.
Elon Musk has argued that a 2016 Hillary Clinton's tweet, related to the now-debunked claims of collusion between former US President Donald Trump and Russia, is a "hoax".
The tweet in question was posted by Clinton on 31 October 2016 during her failed presidential campaign at the time, in response to a news report about an alleged secret server at Trump Tower that was purportedly being used to covertly communicate with Russia.
“Computer scientists have apparently uncovered a covert server linking the Trump Organization to a Russian-based bank”, she tweeted.
Musk's statement came as a response to a user nicknamed VeeSPIKE, who tagged the Tesla and SpaceX CEO in a message, writing that they had referred to the tweet as “misleading disinformation” to Twitter, but that it had never been taken down and does not have a warning label attached.
“You are absolutely correct. That tweet is a Clinton campaign hoax for which their campaign lawyer is undergoing a criminal trial, Musk tweeted, also linking a BBC article titled “Michael Sussmann: Clinton lawyer ‘lied to manipulate FBI over Trump’”.
The billionaire tycoon, however, declined to comment on whether he would have taken action to take down the former Secretary of State’s message if he were he in charge of the social media giant.
9 November 2021, 21:19 GMT
Musk’s remarks followed former analyst at a Washington-based firm Laura Seago testifying that she took part in a 2016 sit-down between several members of the strategic intelligence research firm Fusion GPS, which compiled the so-called “Steele dossier, and journalist Franklin Foer to spread false theories about Trump after learning about it from Sussmann.
The 35-page Steele dossier, which was published a week before Trump's inauguration in January 2017 and was then debunked, alleged that Russian intelligence had compromising information on the 45th US president and that the Kremlin and Trump had "extensive" secret back channels.
Seago asserted that the meeting, which took place at Foer’s house, was attended by Fusion GPS co-founder Peter Fritsch and Fusion employee Jake Berkowitz.
She testified that Foer was told that the information related to to Trump had been vetted by “highly credible computer scientists” who “seemed to think these allegations were credible”. The former analyst told jurors that “we certainly hoped he [Foer] would publish an article”. Foer’s piece titled "Was a Trump Server Communicating With Russia?” was published on the Slate website, in what was followed by Hillary Clinton tweeting “It’s time for Trump to answer serious questions about his ties to Russia.”
Seago’s testimony came after former FBI General Counsel James Baker argued during a testimony at the Sussmann trial on Thursday that the intelligence agency concluded there was no substance to Sussmann’s allegations against Donald Trump, which pertained to the existence of alleged covert communications channel between the former US president and Russia’s Alfa Bank. Fox News reported that Baker’s testimony echoes that of FBI Special Agent Scott Hellman, who said on Tuesday during the trial said that the allegations against Trump were found to be untrue.
Sussmann, who pleads not guilty, is accused of lying to the FBI by telling the agency in September 2016 that he wasn’t “acting on behalf of any client” when he had carried out research concerning alleged secret communications between the Trump Organisation and Russia's Alfa Bank.
Special Counsel John Durham, however, insisted that Sussmann "assembled and conveyed the allegations" on behalf of the 2016 Clinton campaign, where Sussmann served at the time as a lawyer. Sussmann is also believed to had been communicating with Fusion GPS at the time in the interest of Clinton.
Durham's probe kicked off in 2019, when then-Attorney General William Barr told the special counsel to lead a review into the "Russiagate" investigation launched by the FBI in July 2016 to determine if the bureau's inquiry into the allegations of Trump's "collusion" with Moscow was legal.
This was preceded by the US Justice Department releasing a redacted version of then-Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report, which summarised the outcome of his probe into allegations of the Trump-Russia collusion and Moscow's alleged interference in the 2016 US election. According to the report, Mueller’s investigation found insufficient evidence of collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign.
Russia has repeatedly rejected allegations of its interference in the US political system, stressing that the claims were made to explain the election loss of Trump's opponent and distract public attention away from actual instances of election fraud and corruption.
Musk’s Twitter takeover, worth $44 billion, was put on hold after he voiced alarm over the prevalence of spam and fake accounts on the social platform.