Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Report from Senate Intelligence Committee provides devastating new details about Trump campaign's associations with Russia and Vladimir Putin in 2016

Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin

Donald Trump sought a meeting with Vladimir Putin in 2013. Three years later, Putin personally orchestrated the theft of emails from the Democratic Party and the campaign of Trump's opponent, Hillary Clinton. Along the way, Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort put national security at risk because of his interactions with individuals tied to the Kremlin.

Those are among the highlights from a U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee report that was released yesterday and prompted some Democrats to declare the Trump campaign had, in fact, colluded with Russia in 2016. From a report at The Washington Post:

Five Democrat senators ­— including Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.), the party’s 2020 vice-presidential nominee — asserted the report “unambiguously shows that members of the Trump Campaign cooperated with Russian efforts to get Trump elected.” Referring specifically to their findings on Manafort, the Democrats wrote, “This is what collusion looks like.”
How reckless were Manafort's actions? From The Post:

In its nearly 1,000-page report, the Republican-led Senate Intelligence Committee found that Trump’s then-campaign chair Paul Manafort worked with a Russian intelligence officer “on narratives that sought to undermine evidence that Russia interfered in the 2016 U.S. election,” including the idea that purported election interference emanating from Ukraine was of greater concern.

The investigation determined that a Russian attorney who met with Manafort — along with the president’s son, Donald Trump Jr., and son-in-law Jared Kushner — at Trump Tower ahead of the 2016 election had “significant connections” to the Kremlin. The information she offered them was also “part of a broader influence operation targeting the United States that was coordinated, at least in part with elements of the Russian government,” the report stated. . . .

The report lays out in detail how Manafort — who actively sought a job working for Trump in 2016 — shared information about the campaign with his former Ukrainian business contacts, including Russian intelligence officer Konstantin Kilimnik.

The committee wrote that Manafort and Kilimnik went to significant lengths to keep their contacts hidden and secret, using encrypted apps and even sharing an email account, so they could leave each other messages in the draft folder. Among their initiatives was an effort to promote a theory that it was Ukraine, not Russia, that interfered in the U.S. election — a theory Trump has bought into as president.

The revelations about Putin might be the biggest stunner in a stunning report. Even our old "friend" Roger Stone makes an appearance:

The committee did find, however, that Putin personally directed the 2016 hack-and-leak campaign targeting the Democratic Party, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and the campaign of Trump’s opponent Hillary Clinton. The anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks “actively sought and played a key role in the Russian campaign and very likely knew it was assisting a Russian intelligence influence effort,” the report stated, surmising that a Russian military spy agency, known as the GRU, transferred hacked emails to WikiLeaks likely because it offered a more effective platform for publicity than the GRU’s own methods.

Yet investigators could not “reliably determine the extent of authentic, nonpublic knowledge” Trump’s friend Roger Stone had about WikiLeaks’s plans.

The panel noted that its investigation was hampered by several witnesses refusing interviews and requests to produce documents, citing Fifth Amendment rights that protect against self incrimination. These included Stone, Manafort and Gates. The panel requested but did not obtain an interview with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.

An LS lawyer source says the report could set up Trump and Manafort to be prosecuted for treason:

Think about it: A candidate for U.S. president seeks, through surrogates, help from Russia and Putin to win a U.S. election. If that's not treason, I don't know what is.

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