The report, written in part, details the extensive contacts between the President of the Trump campaign, Paul Manafort, and Konstantin Kilimnik, a Russian national who has worked closely with Manafort for years. The report called Kilimnik a “Russian intelligence officer” and said that Manafort, for reasons the committee could not determine, had repeatedly sought to “secretly share inside information about the campaign with Kilimnik”. He also said the committee had obtained “information” linking Kilimnik to Russian intelligence efforts to hack and leak information in order to harm Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party.Overall, according to the report, Manafort’s proximity to the then-candidate Trump “created opportunities for the Russian intelligence service to exert influence over the Trump campaign and to acquire confidential information about it. -this “. Manafort’s willingness to share information with Kilimnik and other Russian agents, he said, “posed a serious counterintelligence threat.”
Manafort was sentenced last March to seven years in prison on fraud charges arising from the special advocate’s investigation, although he has been released at home over concerns over the coronavirus.
The report also documented, in intricate detail, the interactions between Trump’s associate Roger Stone and WikLeaks – which at the time was still viewed as a “journalistic entity” by the US government rather than a hostile organization. the report noted – as WikiLeaks released a concerted timetable, hacked documents that were believed to harm the Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee.
“WikiLeaks actively researched and played a key role in the Russian influence campaign and most likely knew it was helping a Russian intelligence influence effort,” the report said. “Trump and senior campaign officials have sought advance information on planned WikiLeaks releases through Roger Stone. ”
According to the report, Mr. Trump “ordered” campaign officials to stay in touch with Stone, who also made numerous phone calls to Mr. Trump personally throughout the spring of 2016. Its authors described the Trump campaign. as being “elated” by the news of WikiLeaks’ planned releases, noting that its senior officials appeared largely “indifferent to the importance of acquiring, promoting or disseminating material from a hacking and leaking service campaign Russian intelligence. . ”
Stone was convicted in November on seven counts arising from Mueller’s investigation and sentenced to 40 months in prison. Mr. Trump commuted Stone’s sentence last month. In written responses to special counsel, Mr. Trump denied recalling any WikiLeaks conversations with Stone.
The report also provided new details on a series of other interactions it identified as raising counterintelligence issues. He said Russian agents in attendance at the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting, attended by Manafort, Donald Trump, Jr. and Jared Kushner, had “significant ties” to the Russian government and its intelligence services. He noted that other lower-level campaign assistants like George Papadopoulos – while not determined to have been a Russian intelligence “smart cooperative” – nonetheless presented a “primary intelligence target and a potential vector of intelligence. ‘malicious Russian influence’. And, he said, Russia “has taken advantage” of the relative inexperience of Trump’s transition team and its stated willingness to deepen ties with Moscow in order to establish “unofficial channels.” through which to conduct diplomacy.
“The existence of a cadre of informal advisers to the transition team with varying levels of access to the elected president and varying knowledge of foreign affairs presented attractive targets for foreign influence, creating notable vulnerabilities in counter-espionage, ”the report said.
The committee’s investigation was almost entirely staff-led and involved interviews with hundreds of witnesses, some overseas, and the review of over a million pages of documents. It stood out from other congressional investigations, including one led by the House Intelligence Committee, which resulted in leaks, partisan infighting and politically divided findings.
Unlike the Mueller report, the Senate volume explicitly avoids questions of criminality or the application of a standard of proof required by trials. Investigators said they referred any cases of potential criminal behavior to law enforcement while seeking to provide “a factual record” to the American people on the Russian interference in 2016.
Released in April 2019, the Mueller Report documented extensive interactions between Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign and Russian agents, but did not find a criminal conspiracy between them. Six former Trump campaign associates have been indicted or convicted of crimes – mostly for lying to investigators – and more than two dozen Russian agents have been indicted by the special advocate for meddling in the election. Overall, Mueller’s report resulted in 37 indictments or guilty pleas.
The Senate committee report itself offers no meaningful treatment or explicit conclusion regarding the subject of “collusion,” a legally nebulous and politically charged term that has already been widely used. But the committee’s acting chairman, Republican Senator Marco Rubio, said in an accompanying statement that the panel’s investigators “found absolutely no evidence” that the Trump campaign “colluded” with the Russians. He said the committee found “compelling evidence of Russian interference”.
The Trump campaign, in a statement, also said the report showed “no collusion” while decrying the “collusion with Russia hoax” as “the biggest political scandal in the history of this country.”
Senator Mark Warner, deputy chairman of the committee, avoided references to “collusion” but said the report details “a mind-boggling level of contact between Trump officials and Russian government agents that poses a threat very real counter-espionage for our elections ”.
“It can’t happen again,” said the Virginia Democrat. “As we head into the heat of the 2020 election season, I urge the campaigns, the executive, Congress and the American people to heed the lessons of this report in order to protect our democracy. ”
In additional views appended to the report, other Democrats on the panel said the report “unequivocally shows that members of the Trump campaign cooperated with Russian efforts to get Trump elected” and, specifically noting the interactions of Manafort with Kilimnik said the collusion looks like. ”
Committee Republicans – aside from former chairman Richard Burr, who did not sign – said in their addendum that “the Russian government has inappropriately meddled in our 2016 general election in many ways. , but the candidate of the time Trump was not an accomplice ”. They also harshly criticized the FBI for “its sloppy work and lack of judgment”, primarily for its handling of information in the file compiled by former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele.
Although the Senate committee report covers much of the same territory as Mueller’s investigation, it is nearly five times longer than the comparable part of the special adviser’s report. In a rare and extensive interview in 2019, Burr told CBS News he believes the committee interviewed several witnesses outside of Mueller’s scope of investigation.
“I think it’s safe to say that we’ve interviewed people who I don’t even know if the special advocate knows them,” Burr said at the time. The North Carolina Republican stepped down from the presidency in May amid an investigation into his stock transactions.
On Tuesday, Burr said the threat of Russian interference in the US election was “ongoing.”
“One of the Committee’s most important – and overlooked – conclusions is that most of Russia’s activities were not linked to producing a specific electoral result, but attempted to undermine our faith in the democratic process himself, ”he said in a statement. “Their goal is to sow chaos, discord and mistrust. Their efforts are not limited to elections. ”
The volume’s release follows an unprecedented warning from the US intelligence community that Russia’s electoral interference efforts continued through 2020 and that Moscow is actively seeking to “denigrate” Democratic candidate Joe’s candidacy. Biden. China and Iran, which the intelligence community believes prefer Mr. Trump not to be re-elected, are also considering taking steps towards the election.
In a section containing its recommendations, the committee’s report urged the FBI to provide defensive briefings to “all presidential campaigns,” which it said should “conduct a thorough review of personnel, especially those who have responsibilities that involve interacting with foreign governments. . ”
He also said that campaigns should “notify [the] FBI of all foreign assistance offers, and all staff should be made aware of this expectation. ”
Monday’s post also comes amid a separate investigation led by U.S. Attorney John Durham – which focuses on the FBI’s investigation into the Trump campaign’s links to Russia as well as, controversially, some of the analytical work. of the intelligence community on the actions of Russia – would approach its final stages. A source close to the Durham review confirmed that former CIA Director John Brennan would likely be interviewed on Friday, a detail first reported by The Wall Street Journal.
The Senate Intelligence Committee previously released four volumes of its final product. The first was on electoral security and was released in July 2019. It was followed by a second, published in October 2019, on Russia’s coordinated campaign on social media. The third assessed the Obama administration’s response to Russia’s efforts. And the fourth, released in April, assessed the intelligence community’s 2017 assessment of Russian election interference and found the work to be “cohesive and well-constructed.”