Robby Mook, Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager, says reports that associates of President Donald Trump were in contact with the Russian government over the campaign now raises a “real question” of whether they coordinated with the country’s attempt to influence the election.
“We’ve got to understand what these communications were between Donald Trump’s aides on the campaign and Russian intelligence officials,” Mook said Wednesday on CNN. “You know, we’ve been saying from the beginning that the Russians were the ones who stole the information from the DNC, put it out to WikiLeaks. There’s a real question now, were members of Donald Trump’s campaign aiding, abetting or encouraging this to take place?”
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Intelligence officials say that Russian hackers were behind cyberattacks last year on the Democratic National Committee and Clinton’s campaign chairman, John Podesta, whose private emails were published on the website WikiLeaks, resulting in Clinton’s embarrassment. Officials say the hacks were meant to help Trump’s standing in the election.
Trump’s campaign has repeatedly denied that it had any contact with Russia or that it had any inside knowledge of the cyberattacks.
Following Monday’s ouster of Trump’s national security adviser, Michael Flynn, in the wake of reports about his contact with Russia’s ambassador, there has been renewed scrutiny into Trump’s friendly posturing toward the country. Reports that Trump’s campaign was in contact with Russia despite its previous claims to the contrary have especially alarmed the president’s critics, as well as some Republicans, like Sen. John McCain.
On CNN on Wednesday, Mook said the new reports warrant a commission made up of people including outside experts to investigate Russia’s role in the election. He described the situation as “extremely strange” and said it has “eerie” parallels to the Watergate scandal.
“It is extremely strange to me that a member of any American presidential campaign would be speaking to Russian intelligence officials,” Mook said. “And it’s particularly bizarre given the fact that we know that Russian intelligence officials broke into the DNC, stole documents, and handed them to WikiLeaks for the purpose of hurting Hillary Clinton and helping Donald Trump. The parallels to Watergate here are eerie, I have to say.”