Final Senate Report: The 2016 Trump Campaign Was Eager To Take Russian Help

Gage Skidmore / CC BY-SA 2.0 / Flickr (cropped)

JakeThomas

The bipartisan report found that members of the 2016 campaign were a counterintelligence risk to the United States.

According to The Wall Street Journal, a bipartisan Senate Intelligence Committee investigation found that “Members of the 2016 Trump campaign represented a major counterintelligence risk to the U.S. due to their frequent contacts with individuals with close ties to the Russian government.”

  • The committee released the final volume of its Russia investigation on Tuesday, which the Journal noted is nearly 1,000 pages and “largely supports some of the key findings made by former special counsel Robert Mueller.”
  • The report states that “that Russia took advantage of the inexperience in government of members of President Trump’s transition team and its opposition to Obama administration policies, as well as Mr. Trump’s desire to strengthen ties with Russia, ‘to pursue unofficial channels through which Russia could conduct diplomacy,’” according to the Journal.
  • The committee wrote in its report: “The lack of vetting of foreign interactions by Transition officials left the Transition open to influence and manipulation by foreign intelligence services, government leaders, and co-opted business executives.”

A substantial portion of the report focuses on the connections of one-time Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort with Konstantin Kilimnik, whom the report describes as a Russian intelligence officer, and Russia-aligned oligarchs in Ukraine. Mr. Manafort’s high-level campaign access and willingness to share information with Mr. Kilimnik and others “represented a grave counterintelligence threat,” the report concluded.

Among the report’s other findings were that the antisecrecy group WikiLeaks, which published hacked Democratic emails during the 2016 campaign, “likely knew it was assisting a Russian intelligence influence effort.” U.S. intelligence agencies had previously concluded WikiLeaks received the hacked material from Russian spy services but were more circumspect about whether the group or its founder, Julian Assange, were aware they were aiding Moscow.

  • The Journal noted that the report found no evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia but “suggests there is strong evidence that Mr. Trump, via close associate Roger Stone, kept tabs on WikiLeaks’ effort.”
  • While Trump told Mueller via written answers that he recalled no such conversations, the report found otherwise:

“The Committee assesses 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,” the report said.

  • NBC News reported that "the Senate Intelligence Committee said the Trump administration obstructed its investigation with 'novel claims' of executive privilege.," and its report "painted a portrait of a Trump campaign eager to accept help from a foreign power in 2016."
  • The Senate report "also asserted that the allegations that Ukraine interfered in the election — which President Donald Trump perpetuated — originated with Russian intelligence agencies," NBC News wrote.
  • The news outlet also reported,

The committee endorsed the view of special counsel Robert Mueller and the Roger Stone prosecution team that the Trump campaign eagerly embraced Russian help in 2016, and considered the hacked emails its "October surprise" even though campaign officials knew the material was stolen by Russian intelligence.
...
"While the GRU and WikiLeaks were releasing hacked documents, the Trump Campaign sought to maximize the impact of those materials to aid Trump's electoral prospects," the report said. "To do so, the Trump campaign took actions to obtain advance notice about WikiLeaks releases of Clinton emails; took steps to obtain inside information about the content of releases once WikiLeaks began to publish stolen information; created messaging strategies to promote and share the materials in anticipation of and following their release; and encouraged further theft of information and continued leaks."

  • The Journal noted that “Federal investigators, led by Connecticut U.S. Attorney John Durham, continue to examine the initial surfacing of the allegations in 2016 about the Trump campaign’s possible ties to Russia, as well as the 2017 intelligence assessment.”

Last week, Attorney General William Barr said he may reveal before the November election at least some findings from Mr. Durham’s probe—remarks that came as Mr. Trump publicly expressed frustration with the probe’s pace.

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