Senate Report: Trump Solicited, Welcomed & Benefited From Russian Interference in 2016
While there is still no smoking gun evidence that the Trump campaign promised Vladimir Putin anything in return, the bipartisan Senate Intelligence Committee Report on Russian interference in the 2016 election offers a stack of damning evidence that the Trump campaign eagerly sought and received Russia's assistance during the campaign.
The report from the Republican controlled Senate Committee was the result of more than 200 interviews with key witnesses and almost one million documents. The nearly 1000 page report will be one of the primary documents historians use to tell the story of how the Trump campaign embraced a Russian intelligence operation designed to defeat Hillary Clinton, a long-time Putin critic.
Some of the key points from and about the Senate's report:
1. This isn't just old news. Andrew Weissmann, one of the lead prosecutors on special counsel Robert Mueller's team, said yesterday that the report goes much further than the Mueller report in detailing the extensive contacts between the Trump campaign and Russian intelligence agents.
2. According to Weissmann and the Senate investigation, Trump probably lied during the investigation about his discussions with Roger Stone about the WikiLeaks email dumps.
USA Today: "The Senate report found that Trump spoke with Stone about back-channel efforts to communicate with the anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks about the release of emails stolen by Russian hackers that were damaging to Clinton and the Democratic National Committee."
New York Times: "In written answers to Mr. Mueller, Mr. Trump said he could not recall discussing WikiLeaks with Mr. Stone, a response challenged in the Senate report. “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."
3. The Senate report details why the FBI had ample cause to worry about the Trump campaign's Russia contacts. Attorney General William Barr's irresponsible statements to the contrary are just political posturing meant to protect the President. This was no hoax and Barr probably knows that better than anybody.
4. Trump's campaign manager, Paul Manafort had extensive and dangerous ties to Russian intelligence and actively assisted Russia's interference in the election.
USA Today: Trump's former campaign chairman was singled out for some of the harshest criticism by the committee, which cast the high-flying political consultant as "a grave counterintelligence threat."
New York Times: "The report suggested that Mr. Manafort was compromised by his financial ties with Russian and Ukrainian oligarchs, who themselves were connected to Mr. Kilimnik, the Russian intelligence operative."... ...“Manafort conducted influence operations that supported and were a part of Russian active measures campaigns, including those involving political influence and electoral interference,” the report said." "Before, during and after he was forced out as Mr. Trump’s campaign chairman, the report said, Mr. Manafort offered inside information and assistance to these Russian-aligned interests."
5. Donald Trump Jr. attempted to acquire dirt on Hillary Clinton from Russian asset, Natalia Veselnitskaya.
USA Today: "Russia's effort to influence the campaign, the Senate panel concluded, extended to Trump's family and the base of the real estate development enterprise: Trump Tower in New York."
"Senate officials concluded that in a meeting June 9, 2016, (page 332) with Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya at Trump Tower, "it was the intent of the campaign participants in the meeting, particularly Donald Trump Jr., to receive derogatory information that would be of benefit to the campaign from a source known ... to have connections to the Russian government."
New York Times: "Links between the Kremlin and one of the individuals, Natalia V. Veselnitskaya, “were far more extensive and concerning than what had been publicly known,” the report said."
6. The "why" is still a mystery. We may never know all the reasons that Vladimir Putin wanted Donald Trump to win the election. It's possible that he just wanted us to know that he had the ability to influence our elections. But, it's more likely that he sought some advantage from the result.
For a variety of reasons, including Trump's desire to do business in Russia, Putin may have believed that he would be easier to deal with. And, Clinton had been a constant thorn in his side as Secretary of State during the Obama administration.
ABC,AU.News: "Over the years she [Clinton] has said that Mr Putin "doesn't have a soul", she called him a "tough guy with a thin skin", and she compared his annexation of Crimea in 2014 to the actions of Adolf Hitler in the 1930s."
Clinton had also supported the economic sanctions placed on Russia after the annexation, and questioned the legitimacy of his election and his crackdown on dissent in Russia. So, Putin had lots of reasons to undermine Clinton's campaign and he has a long history of seeking revenge against his adversaries.
Conclusion: As the November election approaches, the President and his allies will continue to discredit the various government investigations into Vladimir Putin's interference in the 2016 election as part of a “witch hunt” intended to undermine his presidency. However, the record is now quite clear. Donald Trump's campaign staff sought and received help from Moscow and that assistance was an important element in his victory over Hillary Clinton. There is no way to spin that after the release of the Senate's report.
By: Don Lam & Curated Content