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Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump debate during the third presidential debate at UNLV in Las Vegas, Oct. 19, 2016. (AP) Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump debate during the third presidential debate at UNLV in Las Vegas, Oct. 19, 2016. (AP)

Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump debate during the third presidential debate at UNLV in Las Vegas, Oct. 19, 2016. (AP)

Tom Kertscher
By Tom Kertscher February 28, 2022

Donald Trump’s Save America PAC falsely claims Hillary Clinton spied on Trump

If Your Time is short

  • An ad from a PAC affiliated with Donald Trump mischaracterizes a special counsel’s court filing. 

  • The filing does not allege that Hillary Clinton spied on Trump.

A political action committee affiliated with former president Donald Trump accused Hillary Clinton, Trump’s opponent in the 2016 presidential election, of spying on him during the campaign.

A minute-long video from Save America PAC opens with this message on the screen, as Clinton laughs in the background: "THE SCANDAL BIGGER THAN WATERGATE." 

Then Trump, in a clip from a "60 Minutes" interview, says "the biggest scandal was when they spied on my campaign." 

The next message on the screen contains the claim we’re fact-checking: "HILLARY CLINTON SPIED ON PRESIDENT TRUMP."

Audio that follows is from a news clip that refers to a report from Justice Department Special Counsel John Durham. An unidentified voice in the clip says: "Clinton campaign lawyers paid a tech company to infiltrate Trump servers to fabricate a connection between Trump and Russia."

Former Trump Attorney General William Barr selected Durham to examine the Justice Department’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. The investigation is ongoing.

We’ve found no evidence in Durham’s filings, or elsewhere, to support the spying claim.

No evidence Clinton ‘spied’ on Trump

A recent court filing by Durham spurred a flurry of false claims that Clinton spied on Trump, either during the campaign or his presidency.

The filing referenced a criminal case against lawyer Michael Sussmann, who is charged with making a false statement to the FBI in 2016. 

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During the 2016 campaign, Sussmann was working for a firm hired by Clinton’s campaign, and separately for technology executive Robert Joffe. Joffe worked with a team of cybersecurity researchers who had access to internet traffic data under a pending contract with the federal government to monitor for security threats and breaches. 

The charge against Sussmann stems from a meeting in which he passed along concerns to the FBI from the researchers, not paid by Clinton, over what they believed was potential evidence of a secret channel of communications between the Trump Organization and a Russian bank. 

A February 2022 court filing by Durham also alleges that Sussmann in 2017 shared with the CIA internet traffic data concerning networks associated with Trump.

Sussmann met with the CIA early February 2017, after Trump took office, to relay another set of concerns from the researchers. Their concern was that the data showed Russian-made phones were being used from networks serving Trump Tower and the White House, among other locations. Attorneys for Sussmann and attorneys for one of the researchers have said that the data Sussmann shared with the CIA was gathered before Trump was president.

Durham has not alleged that Sussmann or Clinton’s campaign spied on Trump’s campaign. Sussmann has pleaded not guilty and denied wrongdoing.

We’ve also found no evidence the data was obtained illegally, nor did Durham’s filing suggest that it was. The filing also doesn’t say the Clinton campaign directed the effort. 

The court filing and the indictment of Sussmann do not allege that Clinton paid hackers to spy on Trump before or during his presidency, or to break into his computers and then fraudulently frame him for colluding with Russia.

Our ruling

Trump’s Save America PAC claimed in an ad: "Hillary Clinton spied on President Trump."

Durham has not made this allegation, and we’ve found no evidence to support the claim.

We rate it False.

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Donald Trump’s Save America PAC falsely claims Hillary Clinton spied on Trump

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