The Republican-led Senate Intelligence Committee on Tuesday completed its multi-year investigation into Russian efforts to meddle in the 2016 election, issuing a bi-partisan report that found extensive contacts and connections between Russian officials and the Trump campaign. The panel’s findings undercut several of President Donald Trump’s most oft-repeated claims, including that Russia did engage in a comprehensive campaign to interfere in the presidential election and did so with the intention of helping him win.
While the report stopped short of declaring that the Trump campaign coordinated with the Russian government, the panel uncovered a great deal of previously unknown communication between the Kremlin and Trump advisers, many of whom were open to receiving the assistance.
“No hoax about it. They wanted Russia’s help. They got Russia’s help,” wrote former head of the U.S. Office of Government Ethics Walter Shaub.
The panel confirmed that Trump’s campaign chairman Paul Manafort sought to give internal campaign data to Russian intelligence officer Konstantin Kilimnik, saying Manafort posed a “grave counterintelligence threat” to the United States.
“The Committee found that Manafort’s presence on the Campaign and proximity to Trump created opportunities for Russian intelligence services to exert influence over, and acquire confidential information on, the Trump Campaign,” the report stated. “Taken as a whole, Manafort’s high-level access and willingness to share information with individuals closely affiliated with the Russian intelligence services, particularly Kilimnik and associates of Oleg Deripaska, represented a grave counterintelligence threat.”
The report also contradicted Republican politicians’ dubious claims that Ukraine, not Russia, may have been responsible for meddling in the election.
“[D]uring the course of the investigation, the Committee identified no reliable evidence that the Ukrainian government interfered in the 2016 U.S. election,” the report stated. Additionally, Kilimnik was identified as having “almost certainly helped arrange some of the first public messaging that Ukraine had interfered in the U.S. election.”
Referring to the web of contacts between Russia and the Trump campaign, Washington, D.C.-based national security attorney Mark Zaid (who represented the Ukraine whistleblower) wrote, “This is called a shoe dropping. Hard.”
The panel was surprisingly personal in its assessment of President Trump, asserting that he lied to former special counsel Robert Mueller regarding Roger Stone and WikiLeaks. During Mueller’s probe, the president told investigators he had “no recollection” of any conversations between him and Stone about Wikileaks. Despite that, the panel concluded that “Trump did, in fact, speak with Stone about WikiLeaks and with members of his Campaign about Stone’s access to WikiLeaks on multiple occasions.”
National security attorney Bradley P. Moss referred to the finding as “the coup de grace,” writing that “even Senate Republicans believe Trump lied to Mueller.”
Former federal prosecutor Elie Honig, a CNN legal analyst, also highlighted the contradiction.
“So, Senate Republicans: your Intel Committee is telling us that both President Trump and Roger Stone lied to investigators about their efforts to coordinate with Russia through Wikileaks. Noted,” he tweeted.
In a section on Russian “kompromat,” the report also posits that in 1996 “Trump may have begun a brief relationship with a Russian woman” whose name was redacted. In a 2007 interview with the woman, she told investigators she could not call Trump a “friend,” but added, “Let’s just say we are on a friendly footing.”
The report ends on an ominous note, warning that “what happened to the United States in 2016 should be an alarm bell” and “Russia is actively interfering again in the 2020 U.S. election to assist Donald Trump, and some of the President’s associates are amplifying those efforts.”
Anti-Trump Harvard law professor Laurence Tribe called the final report a “gold mine” of evidence against the president’s campaign.
As an added bonus, the report unearthed a sort of billet-doux from Trump to Russian President Vladimir Putin dating all the way back to 2007.
“Congratulations on being named Time magazine’s ‘Man of the Year’—you definitely deserve it. As you probably have heard, I am a big fan of yours!” the letter said, with the big fan part underlined by a Sharpie. “Take care of yourself.”
Read below for the full report:
[Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images]
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