- Joe Biden has reportedly picked Jake Sullivan to serve as his national security adviser.
- Sullivan was a central figure in the Hillary Clinton email saga, having sent and received hundreds of emails housed on the server that contained classified information.
- As an adviser to Clinton’s presidential campaign, Sullivan hyped a since-debunked story accusing the Trump Organization of having a covert line of communication with Alfa Bank.
Joe Biden’s likely choice for national security adviser sent more than 200 classified emails found on Hillary Clinton’s private email network, and touted a now-debunked allegation before the 2016 election which fueled the conspiracy theory that Donald Trump was in cahoots with Russian leaders.
Sullivan, 43, was one of Clinton’s top policy advisers when she served as secretary of state from 2009 through 2013. After Clinton left Foggy Bottom, Sullivan served as national security adviser to then-Vice President Joe Biden. He was a senior foreign policy adviser to both the Clinton and Biden campaigns.
Sullivan was a key figure in the saga surrounding Clinton’s use of a private email network for government business. Clinton exclusively used the private server, eschewing guidance from the State Department to use government networks.
Clinton and her group of top aides, including Sullivan, Huma Abedin and Cheryl Mills, exchanged thousands of emails that the FBI and other agencies found to have contained classified information.
As of March 2016, the State Department and FBI had determined that Sullivan sent 215 emails that were deemed to contain classified material. Politico reported in February 2016 that Sullivan sent emails to Clinton that contained information classified at the “top secret” level, the highest classification category.
The FBI investigated whether Clinton mishandled classified information, but declined to recommend charges to the Justice Department.
Sullivan was never accused of any criminal wrongdoing related to his email exchanges with Clinton and other State Department officials.
James Comey admonished Clinton and her aides during a press conference on July 5, 2016, saying that she was “extremely careless” to send and exchange sensitive government documents on a private email network.
Sullivan was involved in another saga related to email servers in the 2016 presidential campaign.
As an advisor to Clinton’s campaign, Sullivan hyped a since-debunked story that alleged the existence of a covert email server that connected Trump’s real estate company, the Trump Organization, to Alfa Bank, one of Russia’s top private banks.
Computer scientists have apparently uncovered a covert server linking the Trump Organization to a Russian-based bank. pic.twitter.com/8f8n9xMzUU
— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) November 1, 2016
“This could be the most direct link yet between Donald Trump and Moscow,” Sullivan said in a statement responding to a story published by Slate on Oct. 31, 2016.
“This secret hotline could be the key to unlocking the mystery of Trump’s ties to Moscow.”
The Alfa Bank allegation has since been debunked.
A Justice Department inspector general’s report released in December 2019 said that the FBI investigated the allegation but found no evidence of a covert server arrangement between Alfa Bank and the Trump Organization.
Robert Mueller, who investigated Trump’s possible links to Russia as special counsel, testified to Congress on July 25, 2019 that the Alfa Bank allegation was “not true.”
Undisclosed in the Slate story was that a key source for the article was Michael Sussmann, a lawyer who represented the Clinton campaign and DNC at the law firm Perkins Coie.
Perkins Coie hired the opposition research firm Fusion GPS in April 2016 to investigate Donald Trump’s possible links to Russia. Fusion in turn hired former British spy Christopher Steele, who produced a largely discredited dossier that the FBI later used to obtain warrants to surveil Trump campaign aide Carter Page.
Sussmann shared allegations about Alfa Bank with reporters at The New York Times, then-FBI general counsel James Baker, and Christopher Steele, the author of the infamous dossier alleging collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian government to influence the 2016 election.
John Durham, a U.S. attorney in Connecticut, has reportedly presented evidence to a federal grand jury as part of an investigation into the origins of the inaccurate Alfa Bank allegation.
Attorney General William Barr tapped Durham in 2019 to investigate the origins of the Trump-Russia investigation.
President-elect Joe Biden has not said whether he will allow the Durham probe to continue once he takes office.
The Biden transition team did not respond to request for comment.
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