Trump responds to claim Clinton approved leak of Russia allegations: ‘Where do I get my reputation back?’

‘One of the greatest scandals in political history’, former president says

John Bowden
Sunday 22 May 2022 17:05 BST
Donald Trump at a rally in Texas
Donald Trump at a rally in Texas (Getty Images)

Donald Trump was furious on Saturday after Hillary Clinton’s former campaign manager admitted in federal court on Friday that the Clinton campaign, authorised by the candidate herself, was responsible for leaking a story to journalists about the possibility of connections between him and a Russian bank.

Ms Clinton’s ex-top deputy, Robby Mook, was testifying in the trial of Michael Sussman, a former lawyer for the Clinton campaign now indicted for lying to the FBI as part of special counsel John Durham’s probe into the origins of the Trump-Russia investigation.

Mr Mook’s testimony on Friday concerned the publication of an article in Slate on 31 October 2016, just days before voters headed to the polls and elected Donald Trump. The article reported on pings, or electronic communications, between a server in the Trump Organisation and campagn’s headquarters on Fifth Avenue in New York and two servers registered to Alfa Bank, a Russian financial institution owned by Mikhail Friedman, an oligarch sanctioned by the US amid the 2022 invasion of Ukraine.

According to Mr Mook, Hillary Clinton herself authorised information about the server communications to Slate’s Franklin Foer, who wrote up the story and published it just over a week before the election. The story was promoted on Twitter by Ms Clinton as potentially “the key to unlocking the mystery of Trump’s ties to Russia”.

On Saturday, Mr Trump himself responded to Mr Mook’s testimony.

"This is one of the greatest political scandals in history," he said in an interview with Fox News digital. "For three years, I had to fight her off, and fight those crooked people off, and you’ll never get your reputation fully back."

“Where do I get my reputation back?” he questioned, complaining: “[I]f we had real leadership, instead of people like Mitch McConnell, they would do something about it. And guys like Bill Barr. They would have done something about it."

Mr Trump’s words echoed not only his continued outrage at the long-unsubstantiated claims of his supposed ties to Vladimir Putin and Russian oligarchs but his fury as well towards Republicans including Mr McConnell and former Attorney General Bill Barr who opposed his efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 election based on unproven and baseless claims of widespread fraud.

Mr Barr has said that he told the president his claims about the election were meritless in the weeks following Election Day 2020, while Mr McConnell was reported to have whipped votes in the Senate against efforts to impede the certification of the election.

The former president continues to spread false claims about the 2020 election even in the wake of the deadly attack on the US Capitol on 6 January 2020 and as he publicly mulls a third bid for the White House.

His statements have alarmed Democrats and many experts who worry that Mr Trump is working to remove state-level and national Republican officials and politicians who stood in his way in 2020, paving the way for another possibly disputed election in 2024.

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